There are sprint relays, shuttle relays and assorted mile relays. But cross-country relays have yet to catch on in the running world.

Still, there is no question the race is popular at Woodward, one of the few high schools in the nation to sponsor a cross-country relay meet. Churchill ran off with its meet's boys title yesterday. For the third time in four years, with Georgetown Prep second and Woodward third.

Northwood took the girls crown for the second straight year. Woodward was runner-up, followed by Churchill.

Seventeen Montgomery County schools, along with Georgetown Prep and Good Counsel competed. All the teams were divided into six two-men squads. Each squad then alternated mile runs on a six-mile course for the boys and a four-mile course for the girls.

This may be the best team I've coached yet," said Churchill's Andy White. "This type of meet is a good indication of overall team depth and that's why I'm pleased. I was hoping my guys would stay in a cluster. Second, fourth and seventh place was just fine."

White credits Churchill's long dominance in cross country to the team's strong sense of unity. "We always have very large squads and that definitely is a plus," he said. "But only if everyone is working together. I want the 60th person on this team to feel as needed and valuable as the first guy."

White's team attended a week-long cross country camp in the Catoctin Mountains in August. But providing social activities seems to be just as important to White training. Last week his team went to dinner after finishing a 24 hour relay to raise money for charity.

Though Churchill won the overral title, the biggest surprise came when Einstein's Gary Hopkins surged into first on the anchor lap to give the Titans the squad title. The Einstein junior had beat top runners Rich Coffin of Churchill and Springbrooks's Bill Kovach.

"I really didn't expect to get first," said Hopkins, who teamed with Richard Reed for the victory. "I played varsity football last season because I just had to give it a shot. I think I got that out of my system quickly and I can't wait for the cross-country season to get going."

Northwood's girls team easily defeated Woodward and Churchill on the strength of superb runs by Ruth Drengwitz and Mary Kinnecomn.