It began with a great flood, and ended with an upset of epic proportions.
Saturday's state cross country championships at Hereford will be remembered for the worst conditions in anyone's memory and the unceremonious toppling of the Oakland Mills boys, heavy favorites for their seventh straight title. They lost the Class 3A race by a 72-75 score to Richard Montgomery, a team they beat by 142 points at the Hereford Invitational.
Back on Oct. 6, the first aid room was treating kids for heat exhaustion. On Saturday, hypothermia was the prevalent ailment because of morning rains and afternoon winds. Hundreds of runners took spills, and Ken Plasse, one of Oakland Mills' best, finished 43rd after losing a shoe.
There were plenty of what-ifs for the Scorpions, seven seniors who were in tears after they very nearly lost the second-place award to up-and-coming C. Milton Wright.
"It's a hard way for those guys to go out," coach Steve Carnahan said. "Six of them were four-year runners, and they've done so much for cross country, our school and Howard County. This doesn't change any of that. We're healthier than we've ever been and in great shape, but we couldn't overcome Mother Nature."
Howard County still had one invincible team: The Glenelg girls shrugged off the torrential rain at 10 a.m. and staked an indisputable claim to the No. 1 spot in The Evening Sun rankings.
The stopwatch might have been irrelevant on a day when survival came first, but Glenelg still produced three of the seven fastest times turned in by area girls in dominating the 2A race. Senior captain Kate Terry told her teammates to forget about the conditions, and they listened.
Fallston's Jenny Howard took that section and became the first area girl to win three state titles, but she was upstaged by Dulaney sophomore Amanda White.
On a day when lead runners ran anywhere from 75 seconds to two minutes slower than normal, White still managed to threaten the course record, as she commandeered the 4A race in 18:43 -- 57 seconds faster than Howard. White is a national-class swimmer, and she appeared right at home gliding through the puddles.
For the second straight year, Centennial had both 3A champs.
Junior Amanda Cox led the Eagle girls to a team title by outkicking C. Milton Wright's Stacey Servia, and Pat Rodrigues made it three in a row on the boys side. He's the first boy from outside Baltimore County to achieve that feat, and another from that jurisdiction is in line, as Milford Mill sophomore Mike Mamo had a 64-second margin in 1A.
Brian Horn and the rest of the Loch Raven boys made it a clean sweep in 2A, while the Broadneck boys and Frederick girls did a nice job of peaking in 4A, where they were runners-up. Walt Whitman swept the 4A team championships.