Atholton's Alison Smith and Andrew Revelle had the same strategy at the Maryland State Cross-Country Championships on Saturday: take advantage of the flat terrain to establish their lead and use the slopping hills to maintain it.
"I knew the race wouldn't be won on the hills, which are the hardest part of the course, and I guess so did Alison," Revelle said. "It was like we both knew whoever ran the fastest on the rest of the course was going to win. It was like we both ran the same race."
And both had the same result -- a first-place finish. Smith won the 2A girls' title by completing the three-mile course at Hereford High in Parkton in 19 minutes 37 seconds. Revelle won the 2A boys' title in 17:25 to mark the first time two Atholton runners won state titles in the same year.
"It's pretty cool," said Smith, who posted the fastest time of any girl in four classifications. "My goal was to get the lead right away and keep it, but I didn't know if it would work out that way, but it did."
River Hill's boys team won the 3A title with 71 points, finishing ahead of Northwest (98), Centennial (107), Wilde Lake (124) and Urbana (143).
River Hill was led by junior Sergiy Zubko, who despite falling in the mud placed fourth in 17:23, and senior Nick Keane, who took fifth in 17:31. Centennial's Brian Harvey placed third in 17:22 behind Annapolis's Will Eden (16:41) and Northwest's Matt Logie (17:01). Mount Hebron's James Ullrich took ninth in 17:40 to lead his team to an eighth-place finish with 252 points.
"I think winning the state title this year really adds to all we have accomplished in the past few years," said River Hill Coach Earl Lauer, whose team finished second last year and won state titles in 1998 and 1999. "I also think if you look at all the teams, winning the 3A title was the toughest state title to win because I think with us, Northwest, Wilde Lake and Centennial, you have four of the best teams in the state, regardless of classification."
In the 2A boys' race, Revelle led Atholton to a second-place finish in the team competition with 103 points, as Liberty won the state title with 67. Francis Scott Key took third with 125, followed by Stephen Decatur (128), North Hagerstown (183) and Glenelg (188), which was led by Tim Burt's 16th-palce finish in 18:22. Howard's Zach Dickerson placed third in 17:54, but his team finished 15th.
"As soon as we came in second place, I already started thinking about next year because I think we have a good chance to win it all," Revelle said.
In the 2A girls' race, Smith's finish propelled the Raiders to a fifth-place showing with 133 points, finishing behind champion Hereford (61), Winters Mill (77), Liberty (112) and Glenelg (124), which was led by Jessica Hibbert's eighth-place finish in 21:42.
Centennial's Sarah Lancos was the county's top finisher in the 3A girls' race, as she took sixth in 21:00, which was 45 seconds behind the winning time of 20:15 posted by Amy Watson of North Carroll. Lancos's performance, coupled with Angeli Sivaraman's 16th-place finish in 21:40, led the Eagles to a fourth-place finish with 130 points, behind C. Milton Wright (95), Northwest (113) and Severna Park (117).
Mount Hebron's Becca Collins placed 20th in 21:50 to lead her team to an eighth-place finish.
In 1A, Oakland Mills' Mahmoud Abouelrous and John Thornton took fifth and sixth, respectively, in 18:14 and 18:20 to lead their team to a second-place finish with 66 points behind Beall (25). Oakland Mills' Grace Concannon placed 16th in 23:11 as her team finished fourth with 125 points, well behind champion Loch Raven (25).
"What Howard County did at the state meet was just awesome because we had a lot of runners do very well in all of our races," Atholton Coach Beth DeFrances said. "But when I look at what Andrew and Ali did, it was just fantastic. I couldn't have asked for anything more."