Howard County had a day to remember at Saturday's cold and chilly state cross country meet at Hereford.
River Hill swept the Class 2A state crowns; Glenelg took the Class 1A boys; and Howard captured the Class 3A girls title. Wilde Lake finished second - just one point behind Bethesda-Chevy Chase - in the Class 3A boys, and Joey Thompson (Howard) and Kyle Andrews (Oakland Mills) won individual titles on the hilly course.
"It's kind of a special thing to be able to do this," said River Hill coach Earl Lauer.
Lauer said his runners began pointing at a state sweep since starting unofficial summer training in June.
The River Hill boys won the title with 57 points, easily defeating defending champion Francis Scott Key (77). Craig Morgan (second) and Sean Kirby (sixth) were the team's top-10 finishers. Andrews won the race for Oakland Mills in 16 minutes, 33 seconds, beating Morgan by 12 seconds for the third-place Scorpions (98).
The girls did even better, finishing with 40 points to outdistance Century (66) and Mount Hebron (94). Katie Harman led River Hill by winning the race in 19:54, using a late spring to pull away from Maure Linde of Century (19:59). Mount Hebron's Becky Yep took third. For the Hawks, Payton Lawrence (fourth) was the other top-10 finisher.
The Howard girls, who won the Class 2A state crown last year, scored 69 points to edge Hereford by four points in Class 3A. Elyse Borisko finished second, as Hereford's Kristen Malloy outsprinted her in the final 10th of a mile to win in 19:36. Borisko was four seconds behind, but she was happy that her Lions got another title, especially when Hereford had beaten them badly twice before. Meredith Mill (10th) and Caitlyn Fuller (11th) also helped the Lions.
"We came a long, long way this season," Borisko said.
Thompson gave Howard an individual crown with a solid championship run. The junior had battled with Atholton's Graham Bazell throughout the year. Thompson beat him in the county meet before Bazell won in the regionals.
But this day belonged to Thompson, who won in 16:16. Bazell dropped to third, 38 seconds behind.
The Glenelg boys turned in one of the most unusual and impressive performances in winning their Class 1A title. Not one Gladiator finished better than 17th, but Glenelg had little trouble capturing the team crown with 77 points, beating South Carroll by 16.
Scott Menner (17th), William Mettle (18th) and Matthew Ellis (19th), Brian Chew (24th) and Justin Deltrick (26th) turned in a model of pack running, finishing just 15 seconds apart en route to the title.
State soccer on tap
The rich soccer tradition in the county will thrive this week, with four teams vying for state championships.
The Wilde Lake girls, the county's surprise team, will get things started tomorrow when they take on Urbana from Frederick County in the Class 3A title game at 5 p.m. at Broadneck.
On Saturday, the River Hill boys will take on Loch Raven at noon in the Class 2A final at South River; the Glenelg girls will take on Sparrows Point in the Class 1A game at 5 p.m. at Broadneck; and the River Hill girls will meet Eastern Tech at 7:30 p.m. at Broadneck. Those three Howard County teams have combined to win 16 state crowns.
Wilde Lake would like to be added to the list of state title winners from the county and also give coach Dave Procida a memorable sendoff as he steps down as coach.
It is the second trip to the championship game for the Wildecats, whose first appearance came in 1995.
"We just have to keep our focus, realize it's the final game and come out ready to play. We've overcome a lot of stuff and have just grown closer and closer each day, so it's been a special year," said Wilde Lake senior forward Faryn Watts, who scored the game-winning goal against Catonsville.
The River Hill boys team, which has won seven state titles, has rattled off 14 straight wins to overcome a 1-4 start. The girls team, which won the program's fifth state crown at the 3A level last year, takes a 17-1-1 mark into Saturday night's championship game.
The Glenelg girls also will try to make it two straight championships after winning the Class 2A crown last year.
Glenn Graham is a Sun reporter.