For the fourth time this season, Nick Bax and Johns Ross will be at the same meet, only this time they can both walk away champions. Ross of The Potomac School is the defending MAC champion and heavily favored to bring home the title again this year. In a separate conference, Bax of St. Albans is fully expected to repeat as IAC champion this year. Similarly, The Potomac School and St. Albans appear to be the top two teams at this meet, but will not be scored against each other and will be expected to bring home their respective conference team titles. The National Cathedral School girls hope to repeat as the ISL team champions, while the defending individual ISL champion Moira Ryan will be challenged by Potomac's Anneka Wilson.
Potomac Aiming For Top 3 Sweep
Ross has had the best of Bax in each of their three matchups this season, but the athletes in the IAC and MAC will settle for comparing times after their race. Ross has also defeated another returning All-Met runner this year in Mountain View's Thomas Porter and is coming off a comfortable victory over Atlee's Ben Dejarnette at the Georgetown Prep Invitational. With other victories at William & Mary and Mercersburg, he will be looking to make a statement at this championship meet as he continues on his outstanding season.
After Johns Ross, the top athlete in the MAC and potential heir to the throne is most likely his younger brother Campbell Ross. Campbell bypassed the freshman race at the Glory Days Invitational to run in the seeded race, where he placed 15th in 15:58. With several other marks in the 16's in his freshman campaign, no other young runner in the DC area has a resume that can compare.
Looking deeper into the MAC, you do not need to look any further than Potomac's #3 runner, Stephen Serene. The senior has been a point of stability for the squad all year, consistently running in the mid-16's. With multiple top ten finishes in major invitationals this year, Serene makes a top 3 sweep by Potomac look very possible.
If anyone has a chance to break up the top three from Potomac, it's Colby Miller of Flint Hill who has notched top ten finishes at William and Mary, Georgetown Prep , and Landon this year. All three performances were under 17:00.
With a potential sweep of the top 3 spots and an otherwise strong team for a small school, Potomac will make it very difficult for any other team to win, but the battle for 2nd place should be heated. A tight pack of runners from Georgetown Day School and St. Andrews Episcopal spread across the 18 minute range will add intrigue to the team battle, but with GDS decisively beating St. Andrew's at Mercersburg and a small meet in mid-September at Potomac, the pre-meet nod for 2nd place goes to GDS.
Men of St. Albans Coming with Confidence
In their opening meet, St. Albans notched a 2nd place finish, falling to the regionally ranked Quince Orchard team, but defeating many of the much larger private and public schools from DC and Montgomery County. They also won the Mercersburg Invitational and most recently dominated the Georgetown Prep Invitational in what might be considered an off-day by them.
Over 100 points behind St. Albans at the Georgetown Prep Invitational was IAC opponents Landon and Georgetown Prep. A much improved Landon team can only hope to contain St. Albans, but will be raring for an opportunity to upend the Little Hoyas of Georgetown Prep at the IAC Championship. With only 12 points separating the two teams at the 11-team Georgetown Prep Invitational, expect both teams to be going after one another in an even closer race with fewer teams.
Individually, the IAC looks to be dominated by St. Albans runners. Nick Bax returns as the defending champion and the meet favorite after many strong showings this season including 2nd place at Mercersburg and 3rd place at Georgetown Prep. After another extraordinary summer on the bike with minimal running, it appears that Bax is getting into running shape just in time for a great showing on Episcopal's home course.
Not far behind Bax will be Brian Rooney of St. Albans. Rooney surprised some when he defeated Bax at the Peter Geraghty Invitational at Mount St. Mary's in early September. Although he has not been able to top Bax since, he has been right on his heels posting very fast times in the low 16's all year.
Like Potomac, St. Albans could sweep the top three or even four spots in their race with Francis Rhupasery or Alex Snowden capable of having big races. To accomplish that, they will have to take down the duo of Jack Strabo and Max Marinelli of Landon. Only a sophomore, Strabo made a name for himself last year in the IAC as a rising talent. Strabo has not shied away from the lead roll, leading his team to top five finishes at invitationals as far east as Salisbury and as far west as West Virginia. He has been hovering above the 17 minute mark all season for 5k and will be looking to lead his team at least to a 2nd place finish at the IAC Championship.
Leave It To The Women To Do Things Right
The Women of the ISL have the right idea: one big conference is the way to go! This large conference comprised of all female teams always provides for a highly competitive ISL championship race.
At the top of a list of quality teams in the conference is the National Cathedral School. Coach Jim Ehrenhaft, who coaches both the NCS girls and St. Albans boys, will be looking to repeat his ISL/IAC double championship from last year. Indeed the NCS girls are once again the class of the conference with the highlight of their season being a victory at the Mercersburg Academy Invitational where they defeated numerous ISL opponents. More recently, they challenged many of the top public schools in Maryland at the Georgetown Prep Invitational and came away with 4th place and a great deal of confidence heading in to this weekend. Coach Ehrenheft was probably biting his nails waiting for his first girl to cross the finish line, but he only needed to wait 7 seconds between his first and fifth runners, an unbelievable 5-person spread between 20:16 and 20:23 at Georgetown Prep. With no real standout #1 runner, but an impenetrable pack, they will largely be considered the favorites on Saturday.
St. Andrews, Episcopal, Sidwell Friends, Potomac, and Georgetown Visitation have also assembled quality teams this year and should be in the hunt for top 3 finishes.
Moira Ryan of Georgetown Visitation School returns as the defending champion, but will have her hands full with Anneka Wilson of Potomac School. Wilson has had a breakout season, establishing herself as one of the top runners in all of Virginia. After breaking 20:00 and winning the Mercersburg Academy Invitational, she never looked back and quickly dropped to 19:00 at Octoberfest and an incredible 18:34 8th place finish at the highly competitive Glory Days Invitational, 40 seconds ahead of Ryan. This will be a true test of the heart of the defending champion.