After his race Friday, Annapolis senior Will Eden headed to the top of a grassy hill at Arundel High, not far from the finish line of the Anne Arundel County cross-country championships. A few minutes earlier, at the same spot, his reign as the county's top runner had ended and Broadneck sophomore Matt Centrowitz's had begun.
"That's where it happened," Eden said. "Right there, about 600 meters from the finish line. I had the lead and I was so close to becoming the first [boy] to win three straight county titles."
Instead, it was Centrowitz who charged up the slope and never looked back, winning the county title by covering the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes 23.7 seconds, ahead of Eden's 16:26.8.
"I knew Will had the chance to make history, so that really motivated me," Centrowitz said. "I wanted to be the one that made history."
Centrowitz did just that, becoming the school's first underclassman and just the third Bruin overall to win the boys' county title.
The Bruins swept the individual titles when sophomore Tait Woodward won the girls' race.
Centrowitz joined his sister Lauren, an All-Met last year who had won the past three county titles before graduating last spring, as the only brother-sister duo to hold county cross-country championships.
"That's the nature of athletics. There's always a changing of the guard, and that's what happened with Matthew and Will," Broadneck Coach Dana Dobbs said. "For as good as Will is -- and he has my utmost respect -- I told Matthew my money was on him because Matthew had prepared for this all season."
Centrowitz's performance, as well as a third-place showing by junior Matt Llano (16:51.4) and a fifth-place finish by senior Kellen Hamill (17:18.3), propelled Broadneck to its second consecutive county title with 31 points, ahead of Chesapeake (108), Northeast (114), South River (126) and Meade (130).
Though Centrowitz and Eden are two grades apart, they know each other well. They became friends a few years ago when Eden would hang out with Lauren Centrowitz, who is now competing for Stanford.
"I really wanted to win the county championship, but if I had to get beat, I would have wanted it to be by him," Eden said. "I hope he enjoys it, because he's not the underdog anymore. Now he's the one everyone is going to try to beat."
Though Centrowitz and Eden are the county's top two runners, they had never met on the race course before Friday. Centrowitz, along with Llano, spent last fall chasing soccer balls -- not Eden -- as members of the junior varsity soccer team.
"When it came down to it, I was just better at running than I was at soccer," Centrowitz said.
This fall, Eden saw limited action because he was hampered by nagging injuries to his Achilles tendons. But said that his health was not an issue at the championship and that he simply could not catch Centrowitz during the final sprint.
"I think Matthew discovered that he just loves running, and when kids choose sports, a lot of kids don't see running as fun," Dobbs said. "It's like what we do in our sport is punishment for another sport because the coach makes you run. I think Matthew learned running could be fun, and that he can be really, really good."
Anne Arundel County 4A schools, along with Patuxent, Thomas Stone and Great Mills of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, will compete in the 4A East Region meet today at Baybrook Park in Baltimore. The county's 3A schools -- Northeast, Severna Park and Annapolis -- along with the eight 3A schools from the SMAC will compete in the 3A South Region meet today at Oak Ridge Park in Hughesville. Southern will compete against other 2A schools from Howard and Prince George's County in the 2A South Region meet today at Patuxent Park.
At regionals, individuals who finish in the top 25 percent, as well as the top five to seven squads -- depending on how many schools field complete teams -- advance to each classification's state meet at Hereford High in Parkton on Nov. 13.
"There are a lot of great runners in the state of Maryland," Dobbs said. "Now, Matthew has a reputation to live up to."
So does Broadneck's Tait Woodward. The sophomore who had never before won a cross-country race will compete in today's 4A East Region after winning the county title in 19:39.5, defeating last year's runner-up, Arundel's Marissa McPhail (19:56.4) and Severna Park's Liya Kasimova (20.17).
Woodward's victory marked the fifth time in six years that a Broadneck girl claimed the county's biggest prize, as Lauren Risett won in 1999 and Lauren Centrowitz finished first from 2001 to 2003.
"I don't look at it as taking [Lauren's] place," Woodward said. "I'm picking up where she left off."
The Severna Park girls' team also resumed where it left off last year. The Falcons placed five runners in the top 15 to win their second consecutive team title and seventh in eight seasons with 33 points, ahead of Broadneck (39), Chesapeake (110), Arundel (118) and Old Mill (139).
"I thought today was going to be a coronation," said Severna Park Coach Ed Purpura, whose team won its county-high 21st team title. "But my hat goes off to Broadneck. They made it a competition. They made me sweat."