The Hereford boys and girls each made history while leading the Bulls to a sweep of the Baltimore County championships Saturday at Dulaney.
The boys wanted there to be no doubts this time after losing last year's title due to a uniform controversy that drew national attention. No. 2 Hereford became what's believed to be the first team to post a perfect score at the county championships, as Mason Rivera won, and the Bulls took each of the top five spots to finish with 15 points, far ahead of No. 7 Towson (61).
Freshman Erin Causey won the girls race for No. 2 Hereford, as the Bulls grabbed four of the top seven spots and finished with 30 points for their first team title in 26 years. The Bulls also ended a frustrating streak of eight straight second-place finishes, as they easily beat No. 10 Dulaney (51) and No. 7 Catonsville (70).
At last year's championships, the Hereford boys appeared to have won a second straight title before a uniform violation disqualified a runner, which dropped the Bulls to third.
The Hereford runners left the course that day determined to capture the title this year.
"They were laser-focused; they wanted this badly," said Jason Bowman, Hereford's co-coach with Russ Drylie. "Last year really demoralized some of the kids. We wanted to make a statement. We wanted our victory to not be up for debate."
It wasn't. Rivera won for the second straight year, taking the title in 16 minutes, 29.7 seconds on a blustery day. The senior beat teammate Ben Bemis by 19.1 seconds. Kevin Payne, Julian Rivera and Jon Luckin followed. Towson's Will Fesperman and Drew Landerman took sixth and seventh, respectively, but Hereford's 15 points beat the old team mark of 24.
In fact, the Bulls put seven runners in the top 12, but just the top five can score points.
"Last year was just a shock," Rivera said. "This was definitely a kind of redemption after last year."
Causey won in 19:38.3, beating Loch Raven's Emily Ruppel (19:50.7). The Bulls also got top-10 finishes from Emily VandeWater (third), Rachel Barkley (fifth) and Lauren Kennedy (seventh).
Brittany Bertzon (14th) rounded out the Hereford top five. The Bulls now have three county champions in their lineup: VandeWater (2008), Kennedy (2009) and now Causey.
Causey said she didn't make her move until after the first mile, using some of the other runners as a kind of shield against the gusting winds the runners had to face early in the race. But Causey took the lead just past the one-mile mark and never looked back.
"It means a lot to me because our team hasn't won for awhile," Causey said. "It's really exciting."