For the second straight year, River Hill made a clean sweep at the Howard County Cross Country Championships.
The boys team and individual titles were never in doubt yesterday as the Hawks set a county record with 20 points, far ahead of runner-up Atholton at 99 points.
And senior Mike Styczynski led a 1-2-3 River Hill finish that included sophomore runner-up Shane Stroup and senior third-place finisher Steven Chu.
The girls race was as exciting as they get, with River Hill winning by just six points over runner-up Mount Hebron, 50-56.
Lee McDuff, River Hill's defending county champion, held off fast-closing Kate Frande of Mount Hebron to win by six inches. McDuff's time was 19 minutes, 51.51 seconds, and Frande was clocked at 19: 51.83.
Frande made up about 30 yards in the final 100 yards.
"At the 1.5-mile mark, Kate put on a big surge, and it took a lot out of people. I was totally tired," McDuff said. "Coming down the stretch, I felt really heavy. I tried to sprint but couldn't."
Despite her strong effort, Frande had regrets about not running harder sooner. "I felt I had a lot left at the end," she said.
Hawks coach Earl Lauer said the girls race was closer than he wanted.
"Mount Hebron ran well after the first mile, and their girls worked off each other well. I was concerned our top three weren't up as far as they should be. Anna Lucas did well. She was sick this morning and ran a gutsy race by passing [Faye] Goddard at the end. That was as big a key as anything."
Lucas finished ninth, and Goddard, Mount Hebron's second finisher, was 10th. River Hill's second finisher was Susan Wilson in sixth place. The Hawks also had Kristina Giovanis at 13th and Peggy Chu at 21st. Laura Hostetler was 22nd and Jennifer Green 25th.
Wilson, Hostetler and Green are all first-year runners.
"We may have been a little overconfident," said Lucas. "But it's great that Lee pulled it off, because Kate is a terrific runner and has been wanting to beat her all year. Winning my senior year is wonderful."
Howard's Bridget Baker ran third, staying with the top two for more than half the race.
Styczynski established a fast early pace with a 5: 02 first mile, pulled away at that point and was not seriously challenged thereafter. His 16: 55.36 was more than 12 seconds ahead of Stroup.
"We wanted to give coach Lauer another championship, even though he's already got about 40 of them," Styczynski said. "And we wanted to break the county record for team points."
Atholton's top five runners finished in a pack between 12th and 28th place to come out on top of a highly competitive battle for second place. The top Raiders included Matt Barresi (12th), Andrew Breen (18th), Wesley Lipple (20th), Steven Miller (21st) and Justin Cherot (28th).
Runner-up Mount Hebron's top five on the girls side included Sierra Charon (12th), Jenny Hodges (14th) and Lindsay Evens (18th).