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Severna Park boys wins third straight state cross country title

The future appeared somewhat cloudy for the Severna Park boys when the cross country season began this fall. After winning consecutive Class 4A state titles, the Falcons lost five of their top seven runners from last year, and even coach Josh Alcombright wasn't exactly sure the hand he'd been dealt this year.

It turns out that top-ranked Severna Park had plenty of aces. The Falcons improved throughout the season, turned in dominant performances when winning the Anne Arundel County and region titles and capped it with a third straight title in Saturday's state championship meet at Hereford.

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Severna Park placed five runners in the top 11 — they were just 23.3 seconds apart — to finish with 37 points, easily beating out No. 2 Dulaney (79). Kevin Hines (fourth, 16 minutes, 14.3 seconds), Clay Whitney (sixth, 16:31.3), Joshua Tucker (seventh, 16:33.2), Andrew Forsyth (ninth, 16:35.0) and Jacob Delink (11th, 16:37.6) all ran well.

"They stepped up big time," Alcombright said. "They were intent on working hard. It's satisfying that we lost five out of seven and regrouped and here we are again."

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Eric Walz paced Dulaney with his second-place performance, but the Lions didn't have Severna Park's depth, even though they put five in the top 27. Also in Class 4A, Maria Coffin of Annapolis took second in the girls' race.

Class 3A belonged to River Hill as the girls and boys — both ranked third — crushed the rest of the field on a cool and windy morning. The boys won by 60 points while the girls scored a 41-point victory.

North Harford's Nick Fransham won in 15:41.3, edging out David Eisenhauer of Wilde Lake (15:42.1) at the end. River Hill's Chris Heydrick took third (16:08.3) with Mark Moody (eighth), Trent Rose (16th), Rahul Reddy (21st) and Liam Pedersen (26th) helped the Hawks finish with 65 points, easily topping No. 6 Atholton (125).

"We peaked at the right time," River Hill coach Paul Hugus said. "We kind of told the kids about a month ago that it was theirs to take, and they went out and did it."

The River Hill girls finished with 64 points to defeat Albert Einstein (105). Allison Krein (eighth) led the Hawks with Elizabeth Oldhouser (10th) the other top-10 finisher.

Jasmine Tiamfook (11th), Anna Latzko (15th) and Owen Dannelly (24th) rounded out the River Hill top five. The Hawks were helped by the return to form of Krein, last year's top runner, who battled a torn left leg muscle that slowed her until a few weeks ago.

"We all surprised ourselves a little bit," she said. "We just ran as a team."

Shreya Nalubola of No. 6 Centennial (third) was the top local finisher in that race.

In Class 2A, the No. 9 Liberty girls won their first state title with 77 points, beating Hereford (97). Sarah Rinehart led the Lions with her second-place finish, just 1.4 seconds behind winner Hayley Jackson of Patuxent (18:48.5).

Maeve Lyons (11th), Heidi Rinehart (14th), Caitlin Smith (21st) and Natalie Lansinger (50th) were the other top Lions. The No. 7 Liberty boys also ran well, but Catoctin (48) beat the Lions (70) for the team championship. Nick Tilson (second) paced Liberty in that race.

Katie Leisher of Manchester Valley was the other local runner to win an individual state title. She cruised to victory in Class 1A in 19:41.6, far ahead of runner-up Malloy Moholt from Smithsburg (21:19.8).

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