Northwood senior teammates Eldad Mulugeta (left) and Obsaa Feda finished in the top two of Maryland's boys' 4A state championship. (Michael Errigo/For The Washington Post)

Right around the two-mile mark of the Maryland 4A boys’ cross-country championship race, Northwood senior Eldad Mulugeta snuck a quick look around.

“I looked at the shadows, and it was just [teammate Obsaa Feda],” he said. “So I figured everyone was right there behind us and I looked back and they weren’t there.”

The two Gladiators tore through the course Saturday, finishing first and second. Feda (15:44.05) finished ahead of Mulugeta (15:44.29) by 0.24 seconds, with the rest of the pack at least 18 seconds behind. 

“It feels like a dream come true,” Feda said. “It doesn’t matter who goes first or second, as long as it’s one and two.”

 Mulugeta’s second-place time is all the more impressive considering he did it largely with one shoe. The senior said he had one of his shoes stepped on 800 meters in, and it started to slip off. Once he spotted one of his coaches standing alongside the course, he kicked it off and ran the rest of the way with one shoe on.

South River sophomore Bronwyn Patterson won the 4A girls’ race with a time of 19:06:19. Richard Montgomery’s Charlotte Turesson (19:18.84) and Annapolis’s Anna Coffin (19:19.71) followed.

 Patterson finished 11th last year and said she was hoping for a top-five finish Saturday. But when she hit the two-mile mark and saw she was one of the top few runners, she got a lift from the possibility of a title.

“Knowing I was close enough to be there gave me the boost that I needed,” she said. 

 Asked about the task of defending her championship for the next two years, the sophomore laughed.

“That’s a future-me problem,” she said. 

Severna Park won the boys’ and girls’ 4A team titles for the first sweep in school history. The girls finished with 102 points, with Howard (125) in second and Broadneck (128) third.

 “The dynamic of the team really helps when you’re competing,” said Severna Park senior Allysa Combs, who finished fourth in the girls’ race. “If you see a teammate, they’re like: ‘No, stay with me. You’ve got this.’”

 The Severna Park boys had 48 points on the day to defend their state title, with all seven runners finishing in the top 30. Northwood (105) and Dulaney (157) rounded out the top three.

At the 3A level, Huntingtown’s Oakley Olson (18:59.60) won the girls’ individual title. Northern (56 points) won the girls’ team title, led by Claudia Dolan (19:12.14) and Hannah Mack (19:19.24), who finished second and third, respectively. Bel Air (68) and Centennial (144) followed the Patriots.

Centennial won the boys’ 3A team title with 87 points. The Eagles finished second last year and used that as motivation this fall. 

“It sort of gave us the drive to really push for first this time,” senior Justin Ziegler said.

The Eagles had five runners finish in the top 25, led by Ziegler in 12th place. 

River Hill’s Anish Nanjappa won the 2A boys’ race with a time of 15:58.08 and the Hawks finished second overall, behind only Liberty.  

“All throughout the race I was feeling good,” Nanjappa said. “If I could just keep doing what I was doing I knew I could get it.”

Poolesville’s Nandini Satsangi (19:50.83) came in second in the 2A girls’ race. The Falcons finished third in the team standings, 64 points behind champion Hereford.