A year ago, disqualifications cost the Oakland Mills boys team the chance for a title at the National Guard Scholastic Games.
That team -- believed to be the best in school history -- finished third at the meet before going on to win the 1A-2A state indoor track title.
But yesterday, at the 33rd edition of the annual event at the Fifth Regiment Armory, Oakland Mills finally went the distance.
Led by Greg Curtis -- who won the 800 and 1,500 -- the Scorpions finished in the top three in five events en route to a six-point win over Perry Hall.
For coach Sam Singleton, beating out the 61-team field -- which included top teams from all four state classifications -- meant just as much, if not more, than winning a state title.
"This is like the true Maryland state championship," said Singleton, who said his team sent a message to those who picked county-rival Atholton to finish ahead of the Scorpions.
"Everybody's been picking them to win it all and throwing dust on us. But we proved today that we're not dead yet."
Oakland Mills finished with 42 points, followed by Perry Hall (36) and Atholton (33). Wilde Lake was the next-best county finisher in a tie for 12th.
Perry Hall won the girls meet with 37, Linganore was second (34), Old Mill was third (29.5) and Howard was the highest local finisher in seventh (20).
L For the Oakland Mills boys, nothing could have been sweeter.
"It's really nice because we've never won the meet," said Curtis, who won the 800 in 2 minutes, 6.5 seconds and the 1,500 in 4:16.7. "We were so good last year and didn't win it, so to win it this year is especially sweet."
Other top finishers for the Scorpions included Kyle Walker (second in high hurdles), Steve Petro (second in the 3,000) and shot putter Kevin Rondon, who added two feet to his personal best in finishing third.
Petro led for most of the way in his race before fading down the stretch and losing to Atholton's Andrew Tropf by eight-tenths of a second.
Tropf, who had lost to Petro in their only other head-to-head match-up this season, finished in 9:20.3 -- his best time of the year.
"I just tried to run my race," said Tropf. "I followed him as long as I could, then I made my move. I really didn't do anything differently than last time."
Wilde Lake's Faisal Hasan was third to give Howard County a sweep in the event.
But they weren't the only Howard County athletes to take the spotlight.
On the boys side, Edward Chang of Atholton took third in the 500, Jason Stephens of Howard took sixth in the 55 and the Atholton relay team took first in the 1,600 relay, third in the 800 relay and sixth -- behind fourth-place Wilde Lake -- in the 3,200 relay.
The list of top finishers was even longer for girls. Howard's Melissa Williamson took third in the high jump, Hammond's Becky Bays took fourth in the shot put, Kari Meyer of Centennial took fifth in the 1,500, Adelle Chenier of Wilde Lake took sixth in the 55 and Hammond's Monica Stevens and Centennial's Kare Fisher took fourth and sixth, respectively, in the high hurdles.
In the relays, Wilde Lake, Howard and Oakland Mills finished second through fourth in the 800; Howard was second in the 1,600.
Other meet highlights included two record-setting performances by Perry Hall's Krissy Jost. The senior set meet marks in the 800 (2:19.2) and 1,500 (4:42.3).