COLUMBIA -- Bishop England and Wando returned to cross country superiority on Saturday at Sandhills Research Park.
The Bishop England boys erased the memory of last season's slip to second place by securing their third Class AA title in the last four years by a relatively comfortable 52-81 margin over Liberty.
The Wando girls picked up their second Class AAAA championship in three years with a solid team effort that produced a decisive 68-95 advantage over second-place Lexington.
"It's good to be back on top, and I'm especially happy for the seniors because last season was so heartbreaking," said Bishop England coach Tony Colizzi.
There was no disappointment this time around.
Seniors Gabe Thesing and Nathan Leach led the way for the Bishops, finishing second and fourth, respectively. Thesing clocked in an 16 minutes 22 seconds, one second behind champion Omar Sharif of Eau Claire, and Leach had a time of 16:33. Thesing and Leach, both seniors, finish as three-time all-state runners.
Sophomore Christian Widenhouse (8th, 16:57) and junior Alex Righi (12th, 17:10) also earned all-state honors.
"Gabe and Nathan have been great for three years, and they did what leaders are supposed to do," said Colizzi. "Christian and Alex also had great races, but you don't win state championships without a fifth runner doing the job, and Andrew Furmanchik really stepped it up today."
Furmanchik's 28th-place finish convincingly put the Bishops over the top.
Wando, which fell to fourth place a year ago after winning its first state title in 33 years in 2009, knew it would be pushed by a young and hungry Lexington team. But the Warriors were more than up to the challenge.
"We've kind of had the bull's eye on us since the start of the season when we won the Coaches Classic here, but my girls handled the pressure well all season by staying focused on winning as a team," said Warriors coach Marie Domin.
"We knew Lexington was coming on, but we felt confident we could win if we ran up to our capabilities."
Wando's "Warrior pack" philosophy was put to the test at the season finale. Lexington had a slight edge when the two teams' fourth runners crossed the finish line, but Wando's fifth, sixth and seventh runners all checked in before the Wildcats' fifth and final scoring entry made it in.
Sisters Georgia Compton (7th, 18:58) and Rose Marie Compton (10th, 19:05) earned spots on the all-state team, while Melissa Fairey (18th, 19:27), Gabrielle Milton (22nd, 19:35) and Lucy Rummler (28th, 19:51) rounded out the scoring. The points earned by Anna Fairey or Megan Lowry were not needed, but either tally would have helped secure a Wando win.
In other Lowcountry highlights, the Stratford boys and James Island girls teams made a little history.
Stratford finished a distant second to three-time champion Lexington in AAAA, but it was the best state finish by a Knights team, boys or girls. James Island's girls finished eighth to become the first top-10 state team in program history.
In another first for the Knights boys, three runners earned all-state honors -- Evan Abdullah (10th, 16:04), Ross Jordan (13th, 16:18) and Sango Asante (14th, 16:18).