River Hill teams and runners sweep county championships Heidepriem takes close race

McDuff is girls champ

Cross country

October 30, 1998|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

River Hill ruled the 31st Howard County Cross Country Championships yesterday at Howard Community College. The Hawks swept the boys and girls team titles and both individual titles. All four were firsts for the third-year school.

Senior Zach Heidepriem won the tight boys race by a lean, and sophomore sensation Lee McDuff easily won the girls race.

Hawks' coach Earl Lauer's boys scored 24 points, tying the 1977 Howard and 1986 Oakland Mills teams for the lowest totals in the meet's history.

The boys' finish on the 3-mile course a gorgeous fall day was a thriller. Three runners held the lead during the final 75 yards.

Heidepriem's strong finishing kick enabled him to claim his first county title after a fourth-place finish last season. Third by 12 yards entering the final 75 yards, he passed Glenelg's Jonathan Goldsmith with 10 yards to go and won by the slimmest of margins. Both were given times of 16: 14.

River Hill's Mike Prada, a senior who had finished third at the county championships twice before, held a 6-yard lead over Goldsmith entering that final 75-yard stretch run.

But Goldsmith, a sophomore who finished 40th in the county last season, quickly surged past Prada. Those two had exchanged the lead twice previously in the final mile. This time, Goldsmith appeared to take the lead for good.

Then Heidepriem surged.

"I probably caught [Goldsmith] by surprise," Heidepriem said. "I relied on my kick. In the final 75 yards, I thought that maybe I could catch these guys."

Heidepriem had won twice this season, in a quad-meet and a tri-meet.

"I haven't won many races during my high school career. I knew there were lots of guys who could win today, but I thought I was capable."

Prada, who placed third place at 16: 18, almost didn't get to run. River Hill's No. 1 runner this season sprained his right ankle Monday playing football before practice -- the same ankle he broke two years ago playing basketball. On Tuesday, he was on crutches.

"I thought the Glenelg guy had it, but Zach has a nasty kick," Prada said. "I'm just thankful I was able to run. I didn't think about not running."

River Hill's Mike Styczyski led for the first 1 1/2 miles but finished fourth at 16: 23. Teammates Steve Chu finished seventh and Shane Stroup ninth. Atholton's Eddie Lopez was fifth at 16: 28.

Defending county champion Wilde Lake's boys team was runner-up yesterday with 73 points.

River Hill's girls team scored a 49-58 upset of defending county champion Mount Hebron, which competed without its No. 3 runner, Sheri Hyson, who sat out with a sprained ankle. She was 11th in the county last fall.

"She wanted to run, but I made the decision to hold her out for region and states," said Mount Hebron coach Mark Agnew. "You always second-guess yourself."

McDuff, who had won four of five invitationals, soared to the girls championship in 18: 49 -- 26 seconds faster than runner-up Neha Amin, of Centennial.

"My goal was to break 19 minutes," McDuff said.

Pub Date: 10/30/98

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