Mount Hebron girls coach Mark Reedy felt elated. Severna Park coach Ed Purpura felt vindicated.
Both their teams earned upset victories in the Howard County Striders Invitational 5K Cross Country Championships yesterday at Centennial High in Ellicott City.
Favorites Matt Sanders of Mount Hebron (16 minutes 55.34 seconds) and Ashley St. Denis of Walter Johnson (20:37.34) shrugged off the heat to win the individual titles over the challenging course.
Reedy felt that Walter Johnson, Severna Park and Glenelg would beat his team, especially without top Vikings runner Darya Fakory.
"This was the biggest upset I've ever been associated with," Reedy said. "Walter Johnson is a powerhouse. We beat a legendary team in one of the better girls races you'll see all year. I'm astounded."
The Vikings defeated the Montgomery County runner-up, 76-95, with superb efforts from Elise Lindenmeyer (fourth) and Britt Faulkner (10th). Jessica Loehe (20th), Becca Collins (24th) and Katie Mason (25th) rounded out the top five Vikings.
No. 2 Mount Hebron, No. 5 River Hill and No. 6 Glenelg were the favorites in the boys race. But the Vikings finished fourth, River Hill was fifth and Glenelg sixth.
Second-place Wilde Lake, a long shot, could have won, but the top Wildecats runner, Medhi Bensarghin, went out too fast, collapsed at the 1 1/2 -mile mark and did not finish his first cross country race.
Bensarghin defeated Sanders in the two-mile Howard County track championship race last year.
Wilde Lake coach Charles Shoemaker said his runner looked fine at the three-quarter-mile mark, and that he didn't want to panic him by telling him to slow down. "He's untested. Experience is the best teacher. If you have a bird dog that won't chase birds, then you might as well shoot him."
Wilde Lake, beaten by Severna Park, 93-100, got points from David Schnorf (third), Scott Gayer (12th), David Daddio (19th), Josh Adams (31st) and John Song (35th).
Purpura quoted Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu from The Art of War in describing how his unranked team beat three ranked teams.
"All battles are won or lost before they are fought," Purpura said.
"And this race was won in the summer," he added. "They worked really hard this summer. They ran as a pack today, and there was a lot of suffering in that race. But they didn't quit. They wanted to be ranked."
The Falcons' scorers were Daniel Abed (13th), Chris Magette (15th), Zach Ludington (17th), Alex Ludington (23rd) and Eric Hakos (25th).
St. Denis is the defending Class 3A state cross country champion, but was challenged by Chapelgate's Laura Holtrop, who finished second despite running on a sprained ankle that was taped.