No phrase was more bandied about at the state cross country championships yesterday than "perfect season."
That's essentially how the No. 1 C. Milton Wright, Glenelg, and Loch Raven boys teams labeled their fall campaigns after each school collected a state title over the 3-mile course at Hereford High in Parkton.
That the top-ranked Mustangs won their second straight crown wasn't much of a surprise. C. Milton Wright hasn't lost a meet since the 2000 state event, when Gaithersburg claimed the championship.
"I heard other coaches telling their kids to focus on the blue," Mustangs coach Eric Clark said in reference to the powder blue uniforms worn by C. Milton Wright. "The guys performed like they should have."
The Mustangs' 52-116 Class 4A victory over runner-up and No. 9 Broadneck was paced by senior Pat Bailey (first in 16 minutes, 11.18 seconds), senior Jesse Slowikowski (third, 16:37.09), senior Brian Eagan (fifth, 17:05.90), junior Sean McCormack (14th, 17:36.63) and sophomore Brandon Hepner (32nd, 18:06.77).
For Bailey, the individual title was his second consecutive state victory, and he became the first runner in the metropolitan area to sweep the Harford County, Class 4A East regional and state crowns in two straight years since Jason Santucci of Westminster in 1997 and 1998.
"I felt a little bit of pressure to repeat what I did last year," Bailey said. "But all my times were faster than last year's. I couldn't ask for anything more."
Glenelg grabbed its second consecutive 2A state championship by slipping past Centennial, 82-91.
Senior Ben Adams (third, 17:32.76), senior Scott Shores (12th, 18:04.80), junior Philip Crehan (18th, 18:14.26), senior Robert Pencek (21st, 18:19.78) and sophomore Lee Cumberland (29th, 18:28.95) helped the Gladiators overcome a two-point loss to Middletown in the 2A West regional meet last week.
"That was extra motivation," Adams said. "We know we didn't run well at regionals. We said we had to step it up today, and we did."
Coach Steve Ruckert said the team succeeded by buying into the strategy of running as a pack.
"We've been emphasizing teamwork all along," said Ruckert, whose squad was fourth in the Howard County championships two weeks ago. "We knew it was the only way we were going to win."
Perhaps the result that shocked some observers was Loch Raven's first 1A state title since 1990.
Top-20 finishes from senior Robbie Dauses (second, 17:10.89), junior Chris Mantz (fifth, 17:31.13), senior Tyler Miles (ninth, 17:55.78), junior Matt Mora (11th, 18:08.21) and junior Dan Boyle (19th, 18:39.34) led the Raiders to a convincing 41-73 victory over runner-up Beall.
"I thought that if we ran our race today, we would win," said coach David Kreller, who took over the program four seasons ago. "I didn't think there was anybody that could beat us."
Dauses said the win would help soothe any residue of bitterness remaining from his team's loss of last year's state crown to Oakland Mills, 46-47.
"Losing to Oakland Mills by one point was a heartbreaker," he said. "It's fantastic to see all of our hard work pay off. It's vindication."
The 3A race figured to be a fight between defending state champion Northwest and a group of contenders that included No. 3 Dulaney, No. 4 Wilde Lake, No. 5 River Hill, No. 6 Mount Hebron and No. 8 Bel Air.
But the Jaguars from Montgomery County proved to be too tough as they accumulated 71 points against runner-up Urbana's 129 points.
Mount Hebron was third with 170, Bel Air fifth with 198 and River Hill sixth with 200. Dulaney (202) and Severna Park (220) were seventh and eighth, respectively.