The Hereford cross country course has been rated as one of the toughest in the United States, but Atholton's Graham Bazell easily answered its challenges yesterday.
Bazell set a new record for the hilly 3.1-mile course, posting a time of 15 minutes, 51 seconds to easily win the Elite Division race at the Bull Run Invitational. The senior prevailed amid strong individual and team efforts.
Bazell ran by himself throughout en route to a 43-second victory over DeMatha's Corey Puffett. He didn't realize how close he was to the record - which topped the previous mark by eight seconds - until he saw the clock at the finish line.
"It feels awesome," Bazell said. "The best guys in the state have run here for years."
No. 2 Mount Hebron won the Elite Division - its third invitational victory in a week - with 48 points, beating out Bel Air (59). Zach Weinstein (eighth) and Ryan Steinbach (10th) paced the Vikings.
The No. 6 Hereford girls (72 points) edged No. 2 Towson by four to win their Elite Division title. Marta Randall (fifth) and Emily Vandewater (eighth) gave the Bulls top-10 efforts. Mount Hebron's Becky Yep won in 19:54, taking charge when Century's Maura Linde dropped out with leg problems.
The No. 3 C. Milton Wright girls and the No. 5 Severna Park boys also turned in dominant efforts in winning the Large Schools Division.
C.M. Wright is the defending Class 4A state champion, and Shannon Rafferty won the race for the Mustangs in 20:37, beating teammate Erica Scripa by four seconds. Hannah McKenzie (seventh), Whitney Hora (eighth) and Alanna Sweetser (14th) helped.
"We're right on track to where we want to be," C.M. Wright coach Donnie Mickey said. "We wanted to have good starts today, and we just wanted to run well."
The Severna Park boys scored 34 points in their easy win. Andrew Finlayson took first for the Falcons in 16:57, beating teammate T.J. Cowing (17:32). Severna Park's Brendon Cooley (sixth), Ben Pershall (eighth) and Kyle Frunk (17th) finished in the top 20.
Jonathan Sham of Wilde Lake won the Medium Schools race in 17:23, leading the Wildecats to victory with 52 points. Archbishop Spalding's girls took the Small Schools title with 92 points, led by Elisa Heacock (10th place). No. 7 Winters Mill placed four in the top 20 to roll to the Small Schools boys title.