Table Of Contents
William and Mary Wrap Up - David Brandt
Whitman vs. Sherwood Recap - Sam Epstein
The Lost Runners - Nick Caretti
RM, Whitman, QO Preview - Kevin Milsted
MoCoRunning Team Rankings - Ron Burgundy
MoCoRunning Individual Rankings - Kevin Milsted
William and Mary Wrap Up
A handful of Montgomery County and Washington, D.C. independent schools traveled to Williamsburg, VA this past weekend for the 48th running of the William & Mary Invitational. Featuring seven races that included more than 80 schools from Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Virginia, local runners made a strong statement against a competitive field. Leading the way were the Good Counsel girls' squad as well a National Cathedral School team that took top honors in the girls' C race. Other local schools running were St. Andrew's Episcopal, Georgetown Prep, St. Albans's, and Stone Ridge. Good Counsel's Nora McCall and the NCS trio of Kat Dougherty, Yoriko Nakamora, and Molly Pritchard all had great performances in the girls' races. In the boys' competition, St. Alban's Nick Bax, Georgetown Prep's Matt Abernethy, and St. Andrew's Joe Peterson all had standout races as well.
By David Brandt
Good Counsel's girls set the tone for Montgomery County early in the day in the girls' A race. Led by McCall's 19:10 8th place finish over the 3.05 mile course, the Falcons were able to put four runners (Stephanie Bardon 31st - 20:18; Liz Guida 40th - 20:30; Janey Myers 46th - 20:35) in the top 50 of the race to take 5th place overall in a race that included 23 teams. Despite the good team placing, coach Tom Arnold was not completely pleased with the performance. "Four girls ran well for us today, but then we dropped the ball," said Arnold. "We didn't come into the race with a goal of how we wanted to finish in the team standings, but rather how we ran the race together. It's all based on a team dynamic and how we work together."
As the cross country season is nearing its midpoint, Arnold was focused on his team coming together for the remainder of the fall. "If we can work at packing it in as a team, putting things together piece by piece, the WCAC championship will take care of itself. But that's not my concern at this point. We're just focusing on the day to day right now," says Arnold.
In the boys' A race, Nick Bax finished 2nd of 173 runners in a pr of 15:46 to help St. Alban's to a sixth place team finish. Teammate Brian Rooney's 16:55 36th place finish also helped the team cause. St. Alban's coach Jim Ehrenhaft was pleased. "Nick had a great race today. It was especially nice to see him finish so well and also set a personal best in the process.," said Ehrenhaft.
St. Alban's IAC rivals Georgetown Prep had a tougher time of it in the A race finishing 22nd overall despite a strong race from senior Matt Abernethy. A year ago, the Little Hoyas won the A title behind Steve Duplinsky's record setting performance on the course. The loss of Duplinsky and Abernethy's brother Drew to graduation has put coach Rich Drozd's in a philosophical mood. According to Drozd, "Today's performance is what I kind of expected from the guys. We're real young this year. While we have one of the most talented runners in the area in Matt Abernethy, we also have three freshmen running in the top 7. This is definitely a rebuilding year for us, but we'll be back." Abernethy ran a fine 16:09 for a sixth place overall finish to pace Georgetown Prep. Good Counsel's boys finished in 19th place behind Ian McDermott's 28th place finish (16:45).
The National Cathedral School put in a great team performance to win the girls' C race. Dougherty (20:27) , Nakamora (20:27), and Pritchard (20:41) ran the entire race together to finish a stellar 5th, 6th, and 7th in a race that had a 137 finishers. NCS also placed its top five runners in the top twenty of the race. Ehrenhaft, who also coaches the NCS team was naturally happy with his team's performance. "This was our first time down to William & Mary and it was a great experience.," said Ehrenhaft. "It was good to see how we stacked up against a competitive field. We have a strong, hardworking group this season whose goal is to just keep getting better."
NCS's ISL competition, St. Andrew's, also ran well for a fifth place finish of 18 teams. Despite putting it's top five runners in the top 30 of the race, the Lions were unable to hold off NCS and three Viginia public schools. Coach Gary Wyatt was not overly pleased with his team's performance. "We didn't run well. The girls ran flat. While a couple of the girls were not feeling well, we should have still run better. We were impressed with NCS though. We knew they would be tough and they ran a great race," said Wyatt. Gie Gie Hart (21st - 21:35), Yaa Addison (22nd - 21:44), and Julia Greco (26th - 21:54) led the way for St. Andrew's.
Stone Ridge took 13th in the race behind Cara Sulivan's 39th place finish (22:54). Coach Jason Dwyer was happy with his team's performance and the race in general. "William & Mary is always a fun meet. It's a week earlier this year, but the girls ran well. Our goal is to always improve both individually and as a team. This was a good bonding experience," says Dwyer. "We lost only one runner to graduation. Our team is solid this year and I'd really like to see us move up into the middle of the pack at the ISL championship. William & Mary was a good stepping stone toward that goal."
In the boys' C race, St. Andrew's finished a respectable 9th of 21 teams. Peterson's 17:14 5th place finish coupled with sophomore Dylan Thayer's 18:14 run led the way for the Lions. Running without sophomore standout Tom Belikove, St. Andrew's relied on four underclassmen for their solid finish. Coach Mike Davila was reflective on his team's effort. "It was a good tune up for Mercersburg next week, but I was hoping for a few better performances. If we want to be competitive for the championship meets, our times definitely need to improve," said Davila.
Next week's Mercersburg Invite is shaping up a great race as many of the top independent schools in Montgomery County will be running. Good Counsel, St. Andrew's, Holton-Arms, and National Cathedral School in the girls' race will all be competing for the top spot next Saturday.
Whitman vs. Sherwood Recap
Four runners broke the course record on the boys side, and Whitman beat Sherwood convincingly in both girls and guys races.
By Sam Epstein
The meet started off with the girls race, which was dominated by Whitman, who finished 1-2-3-4-5 on Sherwood and ended up winning with a score of 15-48. Whitman junior Morgane Gay took it out hard early, and had such a large lead over Whitman's number two, Debbie Isen, that she managed to walk down the large downhill each time, rather than risk aggravating her twisted ankle from the WJ dual meet. After Gay, there was a considerable gap to Isen, and then a gap between Isen and Whitman's next three, which consisted of seniors Maureen Golan and Catherin Griffin and junior Sarah Shannahan. Sherwood's Meghan Dunn broke up the Whitman pack, but another group of Whitman runners came in, putting Sherwood even farther back in the score. Whitman ended up with 8 of the top 10, and the score came out:
Whitman 1 2 3 4 5
Sherwood 6 9 10 11 12
The guys race was predicted to be much closer, and the start proved that. Whitman's Will Palmer took it out hard in a large pack and was closely followed by Sherwood's Chris Barnard, Tommy Mullings, Russel Spieden and Yared Tarekegn, as well as Whitman's Andrew Palmer, Brandt Silver-Korn, Sam Epstein, Dan Miller, and Dan Nowakowski. The race flew through the first mile, with Palmer barely ahead of Barnard and Mullings, and Andrew Palmer and Epstein 10 meters back. Palmer clocked a first mile somewhere between 5:05 and 5:10 and did not let up the pace for much of the race.
Whitman's course consists of three loops with a lot of pavement/concrete, and on the second loop, around a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half in, Palmer started pulling away from Barnard and dropped Mullings. Andrew Palmer and Sam Epstein then caught up to Mullings and they ran as a tight pack from there. Behind them, a close battle for the next spot was occuring between Whitman's Dan Miller and Sherwood's Rusell Spieden, with Silver-Korn close behind.
Going in to the third and final loop, Palmer had completely dropped Barnard, who was now only a couple seconds ahead of the tight pack involving Mullings, Palmer, and Epstein. In the last 300m, which consists of a loop around a field and softball diamond, Palmer finished solidly, while Epstein surged ahead in an attempt to lose Mullings and catch Barnard. That surge lasted all of 10m, and Barnard pulled away with Mullings close behind. The last couple hundred meters then ended up with no one truly busting out their kick, but still solid finishes, with Epstein edging out Andrew Palmer by a couple seconds. In this time however, Whitman's 4 and 5, Miller and Silver-Korn had been battling Spieden, and Miller managed to surge ahead and drop Spieden with a little over 200 to go. Spieden managed to hold off Silver-Korn but the meet was decided as Whitman put 5 in before Sherwood's fourth.
The old course record of 16:55, set by Gaithersburg's Ryan Janes last year, was demolished by Palmer, and beaten by the next three runners, with times of 16:33 (Will Palmer) 16:45 (Chris Barnard) 16:49 (Tommy Mullings) and 16:54(Sam Epstein) while Freshman Andrew Palmer barely missed the record (16:57). Overall team scores went:
Whitman 1 4 5 6 8 24
Sherwood 2 3 7 9 10 31
The Lost Runners
Black Hills Regional Park
By Nick Caretti
My girls were very excited entering the race against Seneca Valley. We are a new school and we had the opportunity to win the meet and be in position to go undefeated in the division.
I have 8 girls on my team. My #8 was sick, so she didn't come. My #5 had a sore ankle and we decided not to have her run on it. So we have six girls and Seneca Valley had six girls. One of their girls dropped out two miles in (the hills are tough).
My top girl wins. They go 2, we go 3,4,5. Then runners come in occassionally. For some reason my usual number 2 and 6 girls never return from the woods. NEVER!!!! We ended up sending every athlete, parent, and park police out looking for them... FOR OVER AN HOUR!! They ended up at a friend's house, 3 miles away, in a neighbordood in Germantown.
The course has about 5 places that you can make a wrong turn. It was reasonably well marked, but the markings were worn down. The girls turned left instead of right at a split in the trail and the rest is history.
So, in the end, I only had 4 girls finish the race. All we needed was a 5th girl to just finish the race and we would have won. There goes the undefeated season. But more importantly, the girls were safe.
RM, Whitman, QO Preview
If you asked me three weeks ago, I would have said that Whitman would be sitting at the bottom of Division I with an 0-2 record. They would enter this dual meet against Quince Orchard and RM for a sure slaughter and exit with an 0-4 or 1-3 record. Things change.
By Kevin Milsted
Quince Orchard is still fantastic. QO's Reagan Lynch has stepped it up this year and has beaten Whitman's Will Palmer already. QO's depth is unquestioned. Greg Bove, David Laratta, Josh Joson, Artem Panasenkov, Alex Rosenberg, and Neal Darmody is like Murderer's Row. Every one of those guys is capable of going under 17:00. In fact, just last week, Quince Orchard was recognized on the national level by being added to the NTN Southeast Regional rankings at #10. But there is a funny story behind that ranking.
Pumped up from a great performance at Brentsville Relays, a righteous Whitman runner entered the Dyestat forums and posted about how well Whitman did compared to other ranked teams. He also mentioned how Quince Orchard had beaten Whitman handily at the Mount St. Mary's Invitational a week earlier. Lo and behold, QO appeared on the rankings at #10 without even running a race, with the logic being that they had previously beaten Whitman, who was in turn impressive at Brentsville Relays.
That Whitman athlete probably kicked himself all night long when he realized that his post got QO ranked instead of Whitman, but there's no time to dwell on such things. If Whitman wants to be ranked, they know what they need to do: beat QO. Here is their chance.
Why does Whitman have a chance at all? Why does Whitman have a 2-0 divisional record as opposed to my predicted 0-2 record? The answer, in short, is passion, commitment, and a mad-good freshman.
Will Palmer and Sam Epstein are great athletes and they work very hard to achieve their goals. Maybe more important than their talent is the fact that they are huge fans of the sport. They fully emerge themselves in the sport by constantly surfing the net for running related websites, working at shoe stores, and of course, running every chance they get. When running is your world, you reach your goals a little faster than those who are just along for the ride.
And of course, Whitman is blessed with the most talented freshman in the county, Andrew Palmer, who has already broken 17 minutes in his first few weeks of competitive running. Without the young Palmer, Whitman loses to RM and Concord at Mount St. Mary's and WJ eats them alive in their dual meet. They also owe much to their supporting cast: Dan Miller, Dan Nowakowsi, Justin Krumm, and Brandt Silver-Korn.
If you ask me, Quince Orchard is still going to beat Whitman, but who would have guessed that Cinderella actually got the Prince in the end?
The QO, RM, and Whitman girls match-up will be fantastic. Morgane Gay and Cara Harrison have both ascended to a new plane. Two of the best runners in the county will have their re-match, but the team battle behind them will be very tight between three nicely packed teams. Here is the order that they finished at Mount St. Mary's:
Cara Harrison, QO
Morgane Gay, Whit
Luyang Liu, RM
Debbie Isen, Whit
Aimee Moores, QO
Monica Delizo, RM
Vie Duncan, QO
Anh Chi Do, QO
Sarah Britton, RM
Maureen Golan, Whit
Catherine Griffin, Whit
Eva Rodezno, RM
Sarah Shanahan, Whit
Sarah Kramer, Whit
Alana Moore, RM
Audrey Moore, QO
Amanda Pinzon, RM
Andi Sunshine, Whit
Dawn Rainbolt, QO
Julie Piernikowski, RM
Maddie Horan, QO
Team scores are close. Anything can happen. These are the team scores based on Mount St. Mary's: QO 27, WW 29; QO 25, RM 30; WW 26, RM 30
MoCoRunning Team Rankings
As the third week of the official cross country season ends, many of the Montgomery County teams, public and private, are starting to make a big name for themselves. While preseason rankings are just speculation, the top 10 teams in the county are starting to form. Based on a couple major invitationals and dual meets, here is how the county is looking so far:
By Ron Burgundy
1. Quince Orchard
5. Walter Johnson
6. Richard Montgomery
8. Good Counsel
1. Quince Orchard: The Quince Orchard boys are currently the top team in the state, were just recently ranked in the Nike Team Nationals South East region. They won the Peter Geraghty Invitational placing 5 runners in the top 20 (1:03 5-man spread) for a 57 point total. Quince Orchard also recently added Neal Darmody to their lineup, making their team even better.
2. Whitman: Whitman took second to Quince Orchard at Peter Geraghty with 111 points and a 44 second 5-man spread. Their biggest performance of the season came at the Brentsville Relays where they took third place to the #1 and #2 ranked Nike Team Nationals South East teams. Because Whitman has two freshmen in their top 5, they still have room for improvement. Whitman also beat Walter Johnson and Sherwood in their first two dual meets of the season.
3. Gaithersburg: The Gaithersburg boys are the most surprising team after losing Ryan Janes to graduation. In their first meet of the season they placed 6 men in the top 20 with a staggering 25 second 5-man spread to win the Frank Keyser Invitational with a mere 45 points. Gaithersburg is the strongest pack team behind Quince Orchard and is also undefeated in season dual meets to this point including a win on a tie-breaker against a strong B-CC team. Not having a top gun is the only thing that could possibly bring this Gaithersburg team down.
4. Sherwood: Sherwood is the defending state runner up and only lost one man to graduation from last years varsity squad. They took a strong sixth place at the Great Meadows Invitational in Virginia featuring two NTN ranked teams with 188 points and a 1:46 5-man spread. To move up they need to reduce their large spread. 1-1 in dual meets losing to Whitman but beating Richard Montgomery.
5. Walter Johnson: Walter Johnson has a huge advantage team wise: Chris Moen scores virtually no points, giving them the ability to compete against other teams with only four men making an impact on the score. They took a strong second place to Wilde Lake at the Howard County Invitational with 56 points but their 2:31 5-man spread brings them down as a team. Walter Johnson also finished a strong 7th place at the Brentsville Relays in Virginia. They are 2-1 in dual meets, losing to Whitman but beating both Richard Montgomery and Northwest.
6. Richard Montgomery: Richard Montgomery has a strong 1-3 but their 4 and 5 runners are hurting their spread and making them vulnerable in big competitions. Their 4th place finish at Peter Geraghty over B-CC was no fluke however. Richard Montgomery has not proven to be as strong in dual meet competition after losing to Northwest, a team that they beat by 82 points at Peter Geraghty.
7. Bethesda Chevy-Chase: B-CC has one of the best 1-2-3 punches in the county. B-CC could not handle the pack running of Richard Montgomery at Peter Geraghty and their 2:18 5-man spread showed it. If B-CC can improve their spread they will put a lot of pressure on Richard Montgomery. BCC is 1-1 in dual meets, losing to Gaithersburg on a tie breaker and beating Wootton convincingly.
8. Good Counsel: The Good Counsel Boys took 8th place at the Peter Geraghty Invitational with an ok 1:30 5-man spread. As a team Good Counsel should improve with Mike Bock fighting back from an injury and Ian McDermott running very well.
9. Northwest: The Northwest team lacks a clear front runner individually but is still a strong team. They finished 9th at Peter Geraghty behind Richard Montgomery, B-CC and Good Counsel. Their 00:58 5-man spread is promising however, and will serve them well later in the season. Northwest also pulled out an impressive win against the Richard Montgomery boys in their dual meet and look to be improving rapidly.
10. Magruder: The Magruder boys had a rough start to their season at the Peter Geraghty Invitational with a 13th place finish but things have turned around as they took 2nd at the Harford Invitational with 120 points and a 1:14 5-man spread. Alec Triantos did not compete for them at Peter Geraghty which hurt them as a team. Magruder has one of the most improved runners in the county in Ian Chassler who should lead his team throughout the season.
1. Good Counsel
3. Quince Orchard
6. Richard Montgomery
7. Walter Johnson
8. St. Andrews
1. Good Counsel: The Good Counsel girls have been all business this season winning the Peter Geraghty Invitational over Quince Orchard, Northwest and Whitman as well as a convincing 5th place at the William and Mary Invitational against top ranked Virginia teams in the elite race. In both races their spread was over 2:00 between their 1 and 5 runners, but Nora McCall is leading the way for their squad. At this point, no one can beat this Good Counsel Squad.
2. Churchill: The Churchill girls are also off to a fantastic start with a narrow second place finish to Dulaney at the Barnhart Invitational. Churchill averaged an impressive 20:43, placing their top 5 in the top 25 of the race. Their 5-woman spread was just a hair under 2:00, which needs to be improved on if they want to maintain their spot as the top public school in the county. Churchill is also undefeated in dual meets, beating Gaithersburg and Blair with ease.
3. Quince Orchard: The Quince Orchard girls are a close third to Churchill. They finished over 30 points back to the strong Good Counsel team and barely ahead of Whitman at the Peter Geraghty Invitational. Quince Orchard features one of the top runners in the county in Cara Harrison but will need to improve on their 5-woman spread that is currently over 4:00 minutes if they want to move up any places. Quince Orchard narrowly defeated Northwest in one of the best individual and team dual meet match ups of the season.
4. Whitman: Whitman’s 1-2 punch has served them well so far and their 2 point loss to Quince Orchard at Peter Geraghty shows they are just as good. Whitman’s 5-woman spread is not much better being just a hair under 4:00 minutes and will need to improve on this if they expect to take on Quince Orchard or Churchill later in the season. Whitman is also undefeated in dual meets, winning a crucial one against Walter Johnson, and beating the Sherwood girls with ease.
5. Northwest: The Northwest girls have a strong team yet again but are struggling from a lack of depth. They could not better the strong Quince Orchard or Whitman teams at the Peter Geraghty Invitational, finishing a close 6th place, only 9 points away from Whitman and 11 away from Quince Orchard. Their 5-woman spread of over 4:00 is really hurting them as well. Northwest lost to Quince Orchard by one point in the most heated dual meet of the season so far, but rebounded to beat Richard Montgomery and Walter Johnson the following week.
6. Richard Montgomery: The Richard Montgomery girls are the best pack team so far, but their 5-woman spread of just under 3:00 minutes is not quite impressive either. They finished 7th place, only 10 points behind Northwest at the Peter Geraghty Invitational. In dual meets Richard Montgomery is 2-1, beating Sherwood and Walter Johnson (by one point), but losing to the Northwest girls.
7. Walter Johnson: The Walter Johnson girls are lucky with the addition of freshman Jennifer Spencer who is currently leading the way for the Wildcats. Walter Johnson took 4th place at the Howard County Invitational
8. St. Andrews: The St. Andrews girls are the strongest pack team in the entire county with a tight 5-woman spread of a mere 00:32 seconds to lead them to a solid 5th place finish in the Women’s C Race at the William and Mary Invitational. The only thing holding St. Andrews is a top girl finishing at the front of the race. If their entire pack can move up, their team will really improve throughout the season.
9. Damascus: Damascus has really risen from nowhere being led by a very impressive sophomore Taylor Colbert. They took 2nd place at the Spiked Shoe Invitational with a 5-woman spread of just under 3:00 minutes. They also placed their entire top 5 in the top 25 of the race. Dual meets have not helped the Hornets ranking much so far, but they have beaten every team they faced with a perfect score of 15. Damascus is still a dark horse because they have not faced much county competition so far in the season.
10. Montgomery Blair: Montgomery Blair is a surprise this season, not because of their 1-2 punch but because of what comes after. Blair has only raced dual meets so far this season but they have quickly established themselves as a top 10 team, beating Gaithersburg, Wootton and Magruder in their first two meets of the season. If Blair’s 3, 4 and 5 runners keep improving they will surely move up in the team standings.
The major trend that separates the boys and girls teams this season is the difference in their 5-(wo)man spread. Most of the boys teams are working together, using their packs to their advantage and creating close spreads to secure victory. The girls however, with the exception of St. Andrews, have far larger gaps, with some teams going over 4:00 minutes. In the end, the team with the closest 5-runners spread will have a huge advantage over those that do not in larger meet situations. On the state level, Montgomery County will not have an off year at all. On the Boys side, Quince Orchard, Whitman, Gaithersburg and Sherwood all have potential top 5 finishes written all over them. On the girls side, Churchill, Quince Orchard, Whitman and Northwest should be top 5 contenders as well. The one thing to keep in mind is that the season is still very young and hard work will change standings in the blink of an eye.
MoCoRunning Individual Rankings
By Kevin Milsted
1. Halsey Sinclair, Blair '07
2. Louise Hannallah, Churchill '08
3. Cara Harrison, QO '07
4. Ashlyn Sinclair, Blair '07
5. Morgane Gay, Whitman '08
6. Emma Eckerstrom, Northwest '08
7. Nora McCall, Good Counsel '07
8. Kathy Aherne, Northwest '08
9. Veronica Salcido, Wootton '08
10. Laura McCary, Magruder '07
11. Jennifer Spencer, WJ '10
12. Abby Spitler, Gaithersburg '10
13. Taylor Colbert, Damascus '09
14. Luyang Liu, RM '08
15. Debbie Isen, Whitman '08
16. Becca Stinner, Northwest '08
17. Stephanie Alberico, WJ '07
18. Tara Weiss, Gaithersburg '07
19. Aimee Moores, QO '09
20. Abby Beehler, Holton Arms '09
Halsey Sinclair, Blair - Halsey Sinclair has won the Montgomery County XC Championship every year that she has been in high school, and every year it has gotten more difficult to do. This year the senior will undoubtedly face her toughest competition yet, but it is apparent that she has put in the work to handle anyone that comes her way. Although she has only appeared in dual meets so far, she has dominated many of the other ranked opponents and it would not be surprising to see her remain undefeated for many more weeks. Halsey has a season PR of 18:43 where she out kicked Louise Hannallah @ Gaithersburg.
Louise Hannallah, Churchill - Louise Hannallah emerged as one of the best runners in the area in her sophomore year, which culminated in a 4th place finish at counties, a 2nd place finish at regionals, and 3rd place finish at the cross country state championship, bringing home the fastest MoCo time from states. So far this season, she has gone out and faced some of the toughest competition in the state and has held her own by placing 2nd at the Barnhardt Invitational in 19:27, losing only to Hereford's Kristin Malloy, 3rd in the Mountaintop Combo, and losing to Halsey Sinclair by 1 second at the Gaithersburg Tri Meet.
Cara Harrison, Quince Orchard - Cara Harrison has started off the season on fire. She is undefeated after winning the Mount St. Mary's Invitational in 19:13 and setting the Smokey Glenn Farm course record in 19:42 against Northwest. Harrison was a step behind Sinclair and Hannallah last year, but it would not be surprising if she beat either of the two at some point this season.
Ashlyn Sinclair, Blair - While it's been tough for Halsey Sinclair to hold her county title for three years, it has been equally tough for Ashlyn Sinclair to hang onto that runner-up status. She has not achieved the kind of dominance that her sister has, but she has had more than her share of brilliant races. After achieving All-American status multiple times in the steeplechase this summer, she most likely shifted focus to this cross country season and trained very hard with Halsey. Her times are very fast so far, including a 19:20 3rd place finish at the Gaithersburg tri.
Morgane Gay, Whitman - Nobody improved more during the track season than Morgane Gay. She was the third leg on the national caliber Whitman 4x800m relay team and began to show signs of excellence in the 1600m and 3200m at the beginning of the outdoor track season. Unfortunately, she was unable to achieve her full potential due to an injury, but her times from March and early April were enough to establish her as the next threat to the county distance runners. There is no doubt that she is a threat after Mount St. Mary's where she was the only athlete within striking distance of Cara Harrison. She has also dominated in her dual meets so far.
Emma Eckerstrom, Northwest - There has been plenty of reflection time and I've decided that the best girls race that I saw last year was the 3200m state championship where Emma Eckerstrom distanced herself from the heavily favored Marika Walker of Eleanor Roosevelt. Like Louise Hannallah, she rose to a very high level of competitiveness last cross country season where she finished 2nd, 4th, and 4th at counties, regions, and states. There is no doubt that the audience had these things in mind when they voted her the preseason #1 runner, but she has come out flat, losing twice to Cara Harrison by large margins. There is no doubt that this state champ has the talent to beat anyone in the county and state and she will be ready when the stakes are the highest.
Nora McCall, Good Counsel - Nora McCall is the defending WCAC champion and is the leader of the best team in the county right now. Her track times do not stack up with the other girls ranked around her, but she is most definitely a tough distance runner. She has already placed 4th at Mount St. Mary's and 8th at William and Mary. She is in terrific shape to defend her conference title.
Kathy Aherne, Northwest - Similar to Morgane Gay, Kathy Aherne emerged as a great runner primarily during the track season. Aherne competed for her team at many invitationals against non-county competition, but the results did not lie as she approached the 2:20 barrier all season and eventually went well under it. Now, she appears to be ascending as one of the best long distance runners in the county. She has done everything she can to support Emma Eckerstrom and the rest of the team by being a consistent #2 with a 7th place 20:25 finish at Mount St. Mary's and a 3rd place 20:42 finish at the QO dual.
Veronica Salcido, Wootton - Many of us remember the days of Veronica Salcido, the freshman phenom who earned All-Met status and set all kinds of records as a 14 year old. She also had a magnificent cross country season in her sophomore year, finishing very high in all of her races and grabbing the individual 4A West Regional XC crown. Unfortunately, after suffering an injury during the indoor track season, she has yet to return to the level of dominance that once had the county and state in a tizzy. She has now run several races and appears 100% healthy, which makes her 100% dangerous as she continues to get in shape. She lost an early season scrimmage to Magruder's Laura McCary but bounced back to beat her in a dual. The competitors ranked above her can only hope that she doesn't find that old form once again.
Laura McCary, Magruder - Laura McCary had never run a competitive 5k in her life, but somewhere in the backwoods of Lake Needwood when she passed River Hill's Katie Harman, she must have thought, "This isn't so bad." McCary has long been a well-respected track runner, but cross country was uncharted territory for the former field hockey player. Running fans are glad to have her on board, as she adds one more star to the incredibly deep county competition. She placed 8th at Mount St. Mary's in 20:27 and won the Harford Invitational in 18:59.
Jennifer Spencer, WJ - The freshman from WJ is the real deal. She placed 4th at the Howard County Invitational in 21:12 and has consistently been her team's #1 runner. She has lost only to Morgane Gay in dual meet match ups. The future is bright for this young star.
Abby Spitler, Gaithersburg - Speaking of young freshmen stars, Montgomery County has two. Abby Spitler has also ascended to be her team's #1 runner and fearlessly goes after anyone she races against…including boys. She placed 18th in the Woodward Relays novice race…behind 17 boys (she was the top female finisher by a landslide). She won her first invitational at Boonsboro and led her team to a victory against B-CC. She got her first taste of star power at the Gaithersburg tri where she was a distant 4th behind the Sinclairs and Louise Hannallah. Even still, the possibilities are limitless for Abby Spitler.
Taylor Colbert, Damascus - Few athletes have been more dominant than Damascus's Taylor Colbert. Unfortunately, she hasn't run against any other great athletes to this point so it's difficult to tell how well she really is doing. Even still, running away from Seton Kough's Lindsay Wilson and all of the South River girls in 20:55 suggests that she is worlds ahead of where she was during her freshman track season where she did not break a 6 minute mile or a 12:30 two-mile.
Luyang Liu, RM - Luyang Liu is yet another athlete who really broke out during the track season. She was one of just eleven girls in the county to break 12 minutes in the 3200m and now leads the deep RM team. She has begun the season very fast with a victory in the Sherwood dual meet and a 10th place finish at Mount St. Mary's.
Debbie Isen, Whitman - Debbie Isen is like the utility player that wins the world series for the team. When the Whitman 4x800m relay team needed someone to fill in, she not only kept the relay afloat, she eventually ran faster than the girl she replaced. From then on, her times in the distance races have been dropping rapidly. She is now a very competitive athlete and is helping the Whitman girls team in a big way.
Becca Stinner, Northwest - Becca Stinner was a huge part of the star-studded Northwest girls of the 2005 cross country season. She anchored the middle of the lineup that also consisted of Eckerstrom, Rachel Forcino, Aherne, and Frances Jeffrey-Coker. The fantastic five is down to three and they need Stinner now more than ever. She has not shown much improvement from last season, but she is not far off and the season is young.
Stephanie Alberico, WJ - After all these years, the senior is still dependable. The veteran brings consistency and leadership to the otherwise very young WJ squad. That's not to say she isn't a great runner herself. She placed 7th at the Howard County Invitational in 21:47.
Tara Weiss, Gaithersburg - Like Alberico, Tara Weiss is trying to leave her mark on the team in her final season both as a strong athlete and good leader. So far she has helped her team to a victory over B-CC and a 6th place team finish at Boonsboro with a 3rd place performance in 19:49.
Aimee Moores, QO - Aimee Moores had one of the finest freshman campaigns of any female athlete last season. During the track season she clocked a 5:27 1600m and the top freshman 3200m time 11:51. She has carried it over to her sophomore year where she is the #2 runner on the very strong QO team. She placed 16th at Mount St. Mary's in 21:22.
Abby Beehler, Holton Arms - Relatively unknown athlete placed 2nd at St. John's Invitational in 20:42, far in front of all her teammates. She has freshman track PR's of 5:33 in the 1600m and 12:20 in the 3200m.
1. Chris Moen, WJ '08
2. Kyle Gaffney, Blake '07
3. Will Palmer, Whitman '07
4. Chris Barnard, Sherwood '07
5. Reagan Lynch, QO '07
6. Chris Bowie, B-CC '07
7. Elias Tousley, B-CC '07
8. Wil Zahorodny, Damascus '08
9. Mat Abernethy, Gprep, '07
10. Tommy Mullings, Sherwood '07
11. Greg Bove, QO '07
12. Sam Epstein, Whitman '07
13. Jared Schneider, WJ '07
14. Andrew Palmer, Whitman '10
15. Brian Marshall, Seneca Valley '07
16. Chris Boyd, Wootton '07
17. Sam Boimov, Gaithersburg '07
18. Mickey Stepek, Gaithersburg '07
19. Dylan Straughan, B-CC '08
20. Ben Hoyt, RM '08
Chris Moen, WJ - There is good, and there is great. Chris Moen is the unquestioned 1600m champion of Montgomery County, but he is not the top returning cross country runner. If there was any question whether the 6'-2" Moen Machine would be able to dominate his competition on the hills and dirt, all of that doubt is now gone. He has already run away from the entire RM, NW, WJ, and Whitman teams including Whitman's Will Palmer. His greatest accomplishment this season, however, was edging out multiple-time state champion Andrew Revelle from Atholton at the Howard County Invitational. Moen, for now, appears to be clearly above the rest in Montgomery County.
Kyle Gaffney, Blake - The 2006 outdoor track season was defined by the Moen-Janes battles in the distance events, but the most over-shadowed athlete was Kyle Gaffney who managed a 1600m and 3200m pr on the same day at the MoCo championship (4:19, 9:31). Although he lost to Archbishop Spalding's Rob Wetzel and Dulaney's Vince Walsh, he is the owner of many of the fastest times posted in the county this year, including some blazing fast dual meet times and a 15:59 at the Barnhardt Invitational.
Will Palmer, Whitman - Despite losing to St. Alban's Nick Back and QO's Reagan Lynch at the Mount St. Mary's Invitational, Will Palmer has one of the strongest resumes in the county. He is the owner of the county indoor 3200m record, but cross country is his main sport because he can come out firing after high mileage summers. He has already shown that he is in great shape by placing third at Mount St. Mary's, splitting 7:45 (1.55 miles) at the Brentsville Relays, and defeating Sherwood's Chris Barnard in a dual meet.
Chris Barnard, Sherwood - Chris Barnard followed up his sensational junior cross country season with a relatively quiet track season. He is always tough to beat, but it appears that a few of his competitors may have moved ahead of him over the past year. He is still an undeniable force that placed 3rd at the Great Meadows Invitational in 16:18 and will not lie down when it comes to the county championship, where Ryan Janes out-kicked him for the title last year.
Reagan Lynch, QO - Reagan Lynch is the surprise athlete of the top ten so far this year. While he has shown signs of excellence over the past year, if he doesn't have a baton in his hand, he is not the most consistent runner. All of that seems to have changed. No athlete in the county came out with more fire than Lynch at the Mount St. Mary's Invitational where he was out-sprinted by a nose by St. Alban's Nick Bax. He also had no problem running away from the QO and NW teams in their dual meet. He has taken it upon himself to give QO the strong consistent #1 runner that they lacked last year.
Chris Bowie, B-CC - Like Chris Barnard, Chris Bowie seemed to fizzle a little bit during the track season, but who could forget the way he closed out the 2005 cross country season? In the second half of the season, Bowie and teammate Elias Tousley unexpectedly pounded their ways into the top 5 of just about every race they were in. Bowie emerged as the better of the two by placing 4th in the county championship, 2nd in the 3A regional championship, and coming up just short of the 3A state title, yet running the fastest time of any MoCo athlete at states. So far this season, he placed 6th at the Mount St. Mary's Invite and won the Gaithersburg vs. B-CC dual. In just a few short days, he will be battling those Hereford hills once again.
Elias Tousley, B-CC - At this point, choosing Bowie over Tousley or Tousley over Bowie is totally arbitrary, but one thing is almost certain: these two guys finish next to each other a lot. To separate them in the rankings would be like separating, in Chris Bowie's words, Superman and Batman. Elias Tousley is another unquestioned Montgomery County talent. He made lots of noise during the indoor and outdoor track season, occasionally beating competitors like Ryan Janes and Kyle Gaffney in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m. I'm ranking him 7th, but he could just as easily improve on his 5th place finish at last year's county championship. So far this year he has placed 5th at the Mount St. Mary's Invitational, just 5 seconds behind Will Palmer.
Wil Zaharodny, Damascus - If it weren't for a certain Walter Johnson athlete, last year everyone would have been talking about the amazing sophomore from Damascus, Wil Zahorodny. In a field stacked with talented seniors, "Z" is just as dangerous as any of them. During the track season, he could run competitive times in the sprints up through the distance events. He put on a show for anyone who didn't mind the rain at the Bulldog Relays where he beat out Tarik Aougab and Chris Bowie in a 5k in 15:53. So far this season, no one has even come close to him, not even Meade's Malik Zafar or Seneca Valley's Brian Marshall who he beat in his winning performance at the Spiked Shoe Invitational (17:24).
Mat Abernethy, Georgetown Prep - Last year, Mat Abernethy complete the most talented trio in the state of Steven Duplinsky, Drew Abernethy, and Mat Abernethy. This year, the senior is expected to lead his young team…so far, so good. Very recently, he placed 7th at the William and Mary Invitational in a time of 16:09, but he will have his hands full with St. Alban's Nick Bax when it comes time for the IAC Championship.
Tommy Mullings, Sherwood - Tommy Mullings has been hovering around tenth in the county for a couple of years now, but that does not mean that he is stale. Just ask Ben Hoyt and Sam Epstein. One could make a case that he is still the best #2 in the county, providing excellent support for Chris Barnard and the rest of his team. Mullings raced a little flat at the Great Meadows Invitational where he placed 35th in 17:34, but has been outstanding in dual meet action, only losing to Barnard and Palmer and clocking times of 16:59 and 16:49.
Greg Bove, QO - Greg Bove is the quiet athlete who always shows up when it's game time. You may not even notice him as a serious competitor in the small meets, but when it's on the line, he turns up the ownage better than anyone in the county. So far, he has helped his team win the Mount St. Mary's Invite by placing 8th.
Sam Epstein, Whitman - Sam Epstein was one of the bigger surprises of last cross country season. He came on very strong at the end of the season by placing 12th at counties and 16th at regionals. After a hard working summer, he is showing that he is the real deal by beating many competitors who once easily beat him. He is a large factor in his team's great record so far.
Jared Schneider, WJ - Jared Schneider often shows signs of brilliance during the regular season. So far, this season has been no different as he has placed 6th in the Howard County Invitational and placed very well in dual meets.
Andrew Palmer, Whitman - Andrew Palmer is a freshman and the little brother of Will Palmer. He is young and relatively unproven, but his proximity to teammate Sam Epstein and his 16:57 PR cannot be ignored. Whitman, for now, can boast the best top 3 in the county, but I'm sure that QO and B-CC might have something to say about that.
Brian Marshall, Seneca Valley - Quiet, consistent and tough. Brian Marshall is always right in the mix. He placed 3rd at the Spiked Shoe Invitational
Chris Boyd, Wootton - From afar, it appears that a new track coach did wonders for Chris Boyd last spring. He obviously worked his tail off to run some outstanding 1600m times and it has carried over to cross country season thus far.
Sam Boimov, Gaithersburg - Sam Boimov ascended to a new level of competitiveness last cross country season. He has never stopped improving, but behind Ryan Janes he usually went unnoticed. He usually finishes ahead of Mickey Stepek nowadays.
Mickey Stepek, Gaithersburg - Mickey Stepek is usually very close to Sam Boimov (if not ahead of him) in their races. The Stepek/Boimov tandem are the leaders of the tightest top-5 pack in the county. If they move up, Gaithersburg will be a very deadly team in a large race. Stepek was the key to Gaithersburg's undefeated divisional record by beating B-CC's Dylan Straughan.
Dylan Straughan, B-CC - Dylan Straughan had a great rookie track season, running PR's of 4:44 and 10:14 in the 1600m and 3200m. He's very talented, but still somewhat inexperienced and unproven.
Ben Hoyt, RM - Ben Hoyt has a little bit of talent and a whole lot of guts. He has shown that he is not afraid of anyone. While he does not beat everyone, his young resume is starting to look impressive. He has become his team's #1 runner and placed 11th at the Mount St. Mary's Invitational.