BALTIMORE — Underneath a gray floppy hat and dark sunglasses, looking as if he just stepped off the set of “Duck Dynasty,” Dave Lillard grabbed his bushy beard and what has now become the enduring symbol of success for the Oakdale High boys track-and-field program.
“I told them in November that I will not shave until they win outdoor states,” Lillard, the team’s longtime coach, said Saturday evening while tugging, ever so slightly, on six months of growth on his face.
Unsure if he could even grow a beard, it is now full and scraggly, sandy blond mixed with gray, and has taken on a virtual life of its own.
“I have never had a beard like this,” Lillard said with a smile, still clutching his now prized possession, a frequent talking point with just about everyone.
Elsewhere inside of Hughes Stadium at Morgan State University at Saturday’s state track and field meet, CJ Ecalono, the coach of the Urbana girls team, had already made sure his standard order at Subway (Italian BMT with oil and vinegar, green peppers and pickles) was squared away.
Decked out in his trademark meet attire (khaki shorts, a navy blue, long-sleeve Urbana shirt and a ball cap worn slightly askew), Ecalono had to redirect his wife, Durann, when she offered to pick up lunch at Giant.
“No. It’s got to be Subway,” he said.
With the Oakdale boys and the Urbana girls, no detail is overlooked and no superstition is taken lightly, from the first minute of the season until the very end. That’s why their greatness continues to shine through.
On Saturday, continuing multiple seasons worth of total domination, the Oakdale boys and Urbana girls claimed outdoor team state titles in resounding fashion.
Both teams had already won indoor state titles in February, and neither finished behind an in-state team for the entire outdoor season.
“We’re a brotherhood,” Lillard said of his bunch. “They had each other’s back. Not everyone can have a great meet every single meet. But, if you have each other’s backs, it doesn’t matter.”
Riding the brilliance of junior Kyle Lund, the Oakdale boys scored 85 points to win their second consecutive Class 2A outdoor championship. Century finished second with 68.
The Bears have now won state team titles in three consecutive seasons when you include their indoor team title in February. They have four overall, counting their indoor team title in 2015.
Lund, one of the top middle-distance runners in the country, accounted for nearly half of their points in this most recent victory.
On Thursday, he ran the anchor leg of the winning 4x800 relay (9:28.36) and placed second in the 3,200-meter run before adding victories in the 1,600 (4:18.72) and his best event, the 800 (1:54.30), Saturday.
“It’s nice having a team that matches your ability level so we can do great things, like win states three [seasons in a row],” said Lund, who accounted for 38 points by himself.
The Urbana girls, meanwhile, relied on the abundant talent and determination of sophomore Ella Auderset to claim their second outdoor team title and third team title overall. This one was in 4A. They previously won the 3A outdoor team title in 2016 and the 4A indoor team title earlier this year.
“The seniors on this team won their first and their final state meet for outdoor,” Ecalono said.
Auderset outleaned Jordan Mozie of Henry A. Wise at the finish line of the 800 run to win by one-hundredth of a second in 2:18.17, which was not close to her best time.
Later, in the 4x400 relay, Auderset cruised to the finish line uncontested to deliver a win in 3:55.02. Junior Piper Jons ran the first leg. Freshman Karly McDonnell ran the second leg, then senior Susannah Auderset ran the third leg before handing the baton to her younger sister for a fitting bit of symbolism.
The relay victory should have been the third victory of the day for Auderset almost 24 hours after she helped the Hawks place seventh in the 4x200 relay on Friday. Except, sometimes, her legs don’t move as fast as the rest of her wants to, as evidenced by a jolting scene at the conclusion of the 4A girls 400 dash.
Auderset was cruising down the home stretch with a big lead. She was about to set a personal-best time and, perhaps, challenge the state record for all classifications (53.14 seconds) when her legs gave out and she tumbled to the track.
“I mean, you saw it. You could literally hear a pin drop [in the stadium],” Ecalono said.
Auderset said that had never happened to her before. She explained her legs suddenly felt fatigued as she came around the final turn, and they simply shut down on her. The result was a 14th-place finish instead of a victory.
Rather than feel embarrassed, though, Auderset said the incident made her angry. “I used that to motivate me more [for the 800 and the relay],” she said.
Roughly an hour later, Auderset was making jokes about the fall on her Twitter account. Then, she won the 800 and the 4x400 to get the momentum rolling for her team.
Over the final hour of the meet, the Hawks scored 41 of their 68.5 points to surge past Northwest (56.5) for the 4A team championship.
“I was talking to [Auderset’s parents],” Ecalono said. “They said, ‘Whenever Ella gets mad, that’s usually a good thing.’”
The other champions from Frederick County on the third and final day of the state meet were Frederick’s Jada Sobratti (3A girls 100 dash, 12.25) and Gerald Norgbe (3A boys triple jump, 47 feet); Tuscarora’s Dardlie Lefevre (3A long jump, 18 feet, 3 inches) — who also ran on the Titans’ winning 4x100 relay (48.86) with Jordan Johnson, Aliyah Hopper and Haley Stevenson; Brunswick’s Jackson Tuomey (1A boys pole vault, 13-6); and Linganore’s Carter Holsinger (3A boys pole vault, 13-0).
Prior to the start of the Central Maryland Conference championship meet on May 1 at Oakdale, Ecalono was gravely concerned.
They had screwed up his normal order at Subway, replacing his usual preference on his BMT (cucumbers) with green peppers. The normal routine had been interrupted. A very superstitious person, he was worried that bad things were about to happen for his team.
When the Urbana girls wound up cruising to the team title anyway, he felt that green peppers might be the new way to go, and he has stayed with them since.
Lillard, meanwhile, is leaving it up to his athletes as to how long the beard stays. Although, he said it could be gone by the team banquet and it will definitely be gone by the middle of summer.
“I told them they had to win eight championships [for the beard to stay],” he said. “They had to win indoor conference, indoor counties, indoor regions and indoor states. Then, they had to do it during the outdoor season. They won all eight.”