Atholton juniors Andrew Revelle and Alison Smith sat next to each other during lunch the day of the Howard County Cross-Country Championships and didn't say a word; Smith read a magazine, and Revelle visualized race strategy.
"I think we were just too focused to talk to each other," Smith said. "We knew how big a race this was."
Revelle and Smith have plenty to discuss now after each won a county title last week on the Centennial High School course. Smith claimed her third consecutive county title, one of four girls to accomplish the feat in the girls' event's 28-year history.
Revelle was mobbed by his teammates after becoming just the fifth Raider to win since the boys' event began in 1970.
"I've thought about this all day," Revelle said. "I thought about running up the hill and by the trees and what it would be like sprinting to the finish line. This was definitely a race I wanted to win."
Smith finished the 3.1-mile course in 19 minutes 29 seconds, and Revelle won in 17:02.
Wilde Lake's boys surprised themselves with a team title, and River Hill's girls won as expected.
The Wildecats returned just one starter from last year's team -- junior J.P. Allera -- but senior Travis Boccher, sophomore Derek Lange, junior Michael Kappert and freshman Jonathan Sham all finished in the top 26. Wilde Lake finished with 58 points, ahead of Atholton (64) and defending champion River Hill (67).
"When the season started, we didn't think we had a chance to win the county title," said Allera, who placed third in 17:22, just behind second-place Boccher (17:21). "I figured it was going to be a rebuilding year."
The River Hill girls' team expected to win -- and so did its coach, Earl Lauer, who joked during the week he'd bet his paycheck on it. The team placed five runners in the top 16, highlighted by freshman Katie Harman, who placed second in 19:47, senior Bess Seelaus (sixth in 21:06) and sophomore Megan Yi (seventh in 21:10). The Hawks finished with 42 points, well ahead of Centennial (96) and Mount Hebron (99).
"We had all the oars in the water pulling at the same time," Lauer said of his team's fifth title in eight years. "Our girls ran together and every one of them did what they needed to do."
The postseason continues today with region meets and Nov. 12 at the state championship meet at Hereford High in Parkton. Last year, Smith and Revelle won 2A individual titles, and the River Hill boys' team won the 3A team championship.
"Everything we do since the start of summer is so we can do well in the final three races of the year," Smith said. "Counties are over, now we have to move on to our next big meet."
"Now we have pressure because we beat River Hill and everybody is going to be chasing us, so that's something new we have to deal with," Boccher said. "It's going to get a lot harder now."
Centennial, River Hill, Wilde Lake, Long Reach and Mount Hebron will return to Centennial this afternoon to compete in the 14-team 3A East Region meet against teams from Anne Arundel, Harford and Wicomico counties. Atholton, Glenelg, Hammond, Howard, Oakland Mills and Reservoir will compete in the 13-team, 2A South Region meet at Patuxent High in Lusby against schools from Prince George's, Calvert and Charles counties. In each region, the top seven teams as well as all runners who finish in the top 25 percent advance to the state meet.
"It felt great to win counties," Seelaus said. "But our season is still far from over."