At a practice leading up to the Howard County cross country championship meet, all the athletes in the Howard High program unveiled a present for coach Zack Dickerson.
It was a T-shirt with a picture of Dickerson with his thumbs up on the front and a collage of photos of Dickerson on the back.
The slogan on the front read: What Would Dickerson Do?
All Dickerson did was guide his Howard girls to their fourth consecutive Howard County crown in the meet held at Centennial High on Wednesday.
Howard finished with 17 points, well ahead of second-place Reservoir, who had 91.
All of Howard’s top five runners finished in the top six, led by Lions senior Nimrit Ahuja, who set a course record in a time of 18:21.80. The previous record was 18:36.
Howard’s other scorers included Elizabeth Holcombe (second, 18:26.30), Kelly Mann (third, 18:47.30), Hannah Schwab (fifth, 19:00.50) and Jasmine Wilson (sixth, 19:10.30).
River Hill’s Chloe McGeehan (fourth, 18:57.90) was the only runner to prevent the Lions from taking the first five spots.
“Their ability to run as a team and to feed off of each other I think is one of the things that sets them apart from the rest,” Dickerson said. “We had a game plan, they are so coachable and they executed to perfection and they have all this year, so when one girl does falter they pick each other up and stay on their shoulder and that kind of stuff.”
Ahuja admitted she hit a bump in the road later in the race.
“It’s always around the double hills right around the 2-mile mark where it feels really difficult, but I had my teammate Elizabeth with me and I knew about my other teammates,” Ahuja said.
It was Ahuja’s first Howard County championship meet victory.
“Our pack is very strong and coach Dickerson always says we don’t have to change anything that we’ve been doing all season and we’ve been winning all season,” she said. “We just had to go out there and do what we’ve been doing every race and I think we did a really good job of executing that today.”
Ahuja followed the tradition of Howard girls winning the individual race. Howard’s Amanda Eliker won it in 2018 and 2019.
“It’s really great to keep that legacy going,” Ahuja said.
Dickerson admitted Ahuja is not fond of the Centennial course, where the regionals will be held Nov. 4.
“She can’t stand this course,” Dickerson said. “To get that monkey off her back today I think was a big moment for her and I’m so proud of her.”
Having her teammates close behind doesn’t hurt either.
“They are fun to watch,” Dickerson said. “Some times on a team you will see it get a little competitive, but it’s all support and that’s what I think really helps in races like this.”
Centennial’s Antonio Camacho-Bucks wins boys individual crown; River Hill wins team title
Antonio Camacho-Bucks won the individual championship at the Howard County championships in a time of 15:26.30, but River Hill edged his Eagles, 80-82, in the team standings.
Camacho-Bucks took a slight lead early and maintained it the entire race.
“I just kind of attacked from the start and just kept grinding the whole way through,” he said. “I thought that they were behind me the whole time, so I was just running like somebody was right about to catch me and stuff and I kept that mentality throughout the whole race and just kept pushing and pushing.”
Camacho-Bucks, a junior, held off second-place Joseph Raudabaugh (15:43.10) of River Hill for the victory.
“It was a tough race, a lot of good competition and it was finally a win,” he said.
River Hill got the narrow victory because its fifth runner was just over 47 seconds behind the top Hawk, Bryce Handa (seventh, 16:11.60).
“Bryce has taken the lead as a senior the last couple of meets after being injured at the beginning of the season,” River Hill coach Paul Hugus said.
Rounding out the top five for the Hawks were Robert King (15th, 16:48.80), Kevin McAllister (18th, 16:51.70), Quinlan Ballou (19th, 15:56.40) and Yash Ponwal (21st, 16:59.40).
Garrett Fulton (28th, 17:14.00) was the sixth River Hill runner and Daniel Wang (43rd, 17:36.00) was seventh.
“Everybody finished roughly where we should be,” said Hugus, who is retiring from coaching after this season. “We ran to our strengths today which is pack running.” said Hugus, whose squad won the 2019 Howard County and state championships and used the team’s subpar performance in the shortened spring 2021 Howard County championship race as motivation.
“We talked about the feeling that we had last April about standing here and saying we are really disappointed today and we talked about taking that feeling to good use and letting it fuel us.”
River Hill 80, Centennial 82, Mount Hebron 98, Howard 110, Reservoir 112, Atholton 154, Glenelg 194, Long Reach 229, Marriotts Ridge 239, Oakland Mills 242, Hammond 244, Wilde Lake 313.
Howard 17, Reservoir 91, Atholton 103, Centennial 120, Glenelg 123, Mount Hebron 137, Marriotts Ridge 163, River Hill 183, Oakland Mills 213, Hammond 308.
Individual finishers (top 20)
1-Antonio Camacho-Bucks (Cent) 15:26.30
2-Joseph Raudabaugh (How) 15:43.10
3-Luke LasCasas (Cent) 15:49.80
4-Alexander Barton (MH) 15:57.90
5-Jacob Hauf (MH) 16:01.00
6-Ethan Aidam (OM) 16:06.20
7-Bryce Handa (RH) 16:11.60
8-Christian Brower (LR) 16:19.40
8 (tie)-Kidus Zeleke (Res) 16:19.40
10-Alexander White (Cent) 16:23.30
11-Ethan Mulcahy (Ath) 16:25.10
12-William Chapman (Res) 16:29.70
13-Timothy Cherry (Glen) 16:34.80
14-Zachary Shord (Ath) 16:42.00
15-Robert King (RH) 16:48.80
16-Alejandro Cabrera (LR) 16:49.30
17-Braedon Moyer (MH) 16:50.90
18-Kevin McAllister (RH) 16:51.70
19-Quinlan Ballou (RH) 16:56.40
20-Kyle Reardon (How) 16:58.60
1-Nimrit Ahuja (How) 18:21.80
2- Elizabeth Holcombe (How) 18:26.30
3-Kelly Mann (How) 18:47.30
4-Chloe McGeehan (RH) 18:57.90
5-Hannah Schwab (How) 19:00.50
6-Jasmine Wilson (How) 19:10.30
7-Franki Moore (OM) 19:36.50
8-Kalia Spence (Glen) 19:42.80
9-Lailah Clark (Res) 19:44.00
10-Gabby Teachey (MH) 20:11.50
11-Rachel Roberts (MR) 20:18.90
12-Chiara Sforza (Ath) 20:22.00
13-Caroline Rosenberry (Res) 20:22.90
14-Amaya Cunningham (Cent) 20:35.30
15-Milana Gurvich (Glen) 20:38.80
16-Lily Decker (OM) 20:47.30
17-Sophia Urdinola (Ath) 20:52.90
18-Varsha Makkapati (Cent) 21:08.10
19-Grace Rua (Res) 21:09.30
20-Hallie Robitaille (Res) 21:10.30