The Severna Park High School cross country program dominated in the state championship at Hereford High School on November 9.
The boys team claimed their third consecutive state championship with a score of 43 points, and the girls took second with 110 points.
Though the course at Hereford High School, commonly known as Bull Run, is one of the toughest in the nation, Severna Park was not intimidated. The Falcons were a force to be reckoned with.
Apart from being the defending state champions, the stakes were high after winning the county championship. The boys team also won regionals, and the girls team placed second.
“They’re just doing it for each other and to carry on tradition,” said head coach Josh Alcombright before the race. “I just want them to have a good race and defend our state title.”
In the boys race Sam Keeny of South River High School claimed first place with a time of 15:34.98, followed by Tanner Piotrowski of Arundel High School with 15:42.44.
Severna Park juniors Jake Gelfand and Carson Sloat took third and fourth, respectively. Senior Nick Engleman finished seventh, followed by Nick Benedict (14th), James Dennison (15th), James Glebocki (20th) and Philip Bansemer (72nd).
The team’s average time of 16:11 set a program record at Hereford.
The success of the boy’s team came down to a culture of selflessness.
“We have a lot of chemistry,” said Sloat. “We run for each other. No one is trying to stand out. We want to succeed together.”
Alcombright challenges the runners to “do it for the other six,” because “it is easier to give up on yourself than your team.”
The team extended its decade reign as the top cross country program in Maryland. The Falcon boys have finished first or second in every 4A state championship since 2011, winning three consecutive titles twice, from 2013 to 2015 and 2017 to this year.
“You just think of your friends as you run and you’re doing it for them and not yourself. I think that’s what makes this team so successful,” said Engleman.
In the girls race, Severna Park’s Alyssa Combs took fifth, followed by teammates Grace Combon (20th), Cara Vandemeulebroecke (22nd), Caroline Gage (25), Neela Baker (50), Kelsie O’Neill (51) and Sohpia Zell (142).
“They did what we asked them to do and fought for each other the whole way,” said Alcombright of the girls team.”
O’Neill, a junior, credits Alcombright and the coaching staff for creating an environment that allows the runners to succeed.
“The program is amazing and none of us would be the team or the runners that we are without the coaching staff or teammates,” said O’Neill. “It’s such an amazing thing to be a part of and I’m so grateful.”
The girls’ team was second only to Howard High School with 69 points.
Meanwhile, Broadneck High School’s boys team came in eight, and the girls came in fourth.
For the Bruin girls, Grace Denius (11th), Anna Janke (14th) and Madison Palmer (23rd) placed in the top 25 to medal. For the boys Aidan Rand medaled in 24th place.
“I’m very proud,” said head coach Brianna Kelly. “They’ve really put in the work and changed the attitude of the team. I owe most of that to the captain and seniors.”