The sight of Greg Curtis and Steve Petro tackling each other to the ground in delight yesterday after they learned that Oakland Mills had won the team title in the state 2A boys championship race showed why they still keep team scores in cross country.
Curtis and Petro were rather subdued until they heard the first-place news even though they had already proven themselves to be the class of the 2A field by finishing 1-2 over the strenuous 11-hill, 3.1-mile course at Hereford High.
Curtis cruised to a first-place finish in 17 minutes, 41 seconds, and Petro (17:51) was 10 seconds behind him in second place.
Petro was 16 seconds ahead of the third-place runner, Aaron Horevay of Allegany.
So it was a clear-cut Oakland Mills domination at the top of the pack. But Curtis and Petro were worried and thought they might have to settle for second place.
"Getting first as a team meant a lot to us," said Curtis. "It gave us our eighth state title in the the last 11 years, and now we'll have another banner to hang across the gymnasium wall."
Oakland Mills coach Steve Carnahan loves the consistency his boys program has shown over 11 years.
"We've been first or second in the state 11 straight years," he said. "And we at least wanted to keep that streak going. But our kids turned it up a notch today, with everyone running stronger than they had before to give us first place."
The Scorpions took first with 100 points, just ahead of Liberty (105) and Fort Hill (115).
Bryan Drake helped Oakland Mills gain the top spot with a 15th-place finish in 19:13.
There were a lot of other exciting moments for Howard County runners yesterday.
Atholton's Dana Strickland ran off to a first-place finish in the 2A girls race, Centennial's Mike French came through with a second-place effort in the 3A boys competition, and Oakland Mills sophomore Lauren Drake turned in a surprising third-place finish in the 2A girls run.
Strickland (21:49) said she was able to fend off a challenge from Catonsville's Brigid O'Connell (22:05) over the hills by changing strategy midway through the race.
"I was falling behind [O'Connell] on the hills and then passing her going downhill," said Strickland. "But then I started using my arms on the hills and stopped falling behind. Everybody kept yelling Brigid all the time. That was really the only thing I knew about the runners I was going against."
Strickland entered the states off county and regional championships and was third in last season's states.
For French, a junior, it was an outstanding run from behind to finish 14 seconds in back (18:19) of Linganore's Jonathan Hayes (18:05).
Centennial coach Al Dodds said: "Mike was looking at eighth place, then fourth, then third and then he got second. He knows how to run and is a good student of the sport. He is always reading about it or watching videos or something. A lot of guys don't do that."