You've seen poll results and you've seen statistical models, but people still want to know what I think about this year's county championship. Here are my informal thoughts and predictions.
This has been and will continue to be the year of Sherwood's Solomon Haile. He is a two time national 5000-meter champion and is on a quest for his most prestigious title of all: the Footlocker National XC Title. He has convincingly won every race so far this year, often breaking course records along the way. His record-breaking win at the Manhattan Invitational last weekend was perhaps his most notable accomplishment to date. He will break Neal Darmody's year old county course record of 15:41. The only question is by how much.
Andrew Palmer of Whitman High School is the defending Maryland 4A state champion. He worked hard over the summer knowing that defending his title would mean defeating Haile at Hereford. His hard work has paid off, as shown by his very fast times and commanding victories over the rest of the best in Montgomery County, but his first two attempts at Haile have come up short by over 25 seconds. Palmer will also make an attempt on Darmody's course record and will once again test himself against Haile, but few believe that he can pull off the upset.
1. Solomon Haile, Sherwood
2. Andrew Palmer, Whitman
3. Nicolas Escobar, Magruder
4. Sean O'Leary, Walter Johnson
5. Sean King, Churchill
6. Chris Gregorski, Magruder
7. Wayne Bartholomew, QO
8. Brandt Silver-Korn, Whitman
9. Kyle Balderson, Sherwood
10. Matt Davey-Karlson, B-CC
1. Walter Johnson - The thing about Walter Johnson is that everybody returned, everybody stayed healthy, and everybody improved. Any reasonable scenario has the WJ boys winning the county title.
2. Churchill - Churchill's strength up front and supporting depth gives them a chance at the county title. Coach Steve Bettis will have a heck of a time picking out the best seven runners.
3. Northwest - Everybody returned and everybody stayed healthy, but how much has Northwest improved from last year? As it stands now, other teams have passed them by, but they still could have the best fifth and sixth man.
4. Sherwood - Upon winning the division title, Sherwood should have hoisted up Jackson Reams, the first year runner who saved them from a loss against Damascus and will keep them very much in the hunt for titles the rest of the season after the injury to Cole Balderson.
5. Damascus - Damascus is the best pack team in the county, but #1 runner Thomas Arias may not break into the top 20.
6. Magruder - Magruder's Nicolas Escobar and Chris Gregorski form a killer top two. The rest of the team is quickly closing the gap.
7. Whitman - Brandt Silver-Korn appears to definitely be back and ready to give Whitman a big boost.
8. B-CC - Great races by Matt Davey-Karlson and Eric Damtoft last weekend gave B-CC momentum, but if Eliot Gerson sits out again, there will be depth issues.
9. Gaithersburg - Strong top 3 but no depth has been the story of the season for Gaithersburg. Brendan Stepek is on a comeback, but not expected to be a savior.
10. Quince Orchard - QO's top three are rolling. The rest will keep QO respectable.
11. Richard Montgomery - Contrasting many other teams, RM has good depth, but no front runner. Watch out for them next year.
12. Montgomery Blair - A bit of a wildcard, Blair has not faced many county teams but won MCPS Division III with two strong front runners.
13. Albert Einstein - Defeated Wootton at Glory Days but finished well behind QO.
14. Wootton - Deeper than last year, but so is Einstein.
15. Springbrook - Defeated Clarksburg at Magruder Invitational.
16. Clarksburg - Jatin Narang could get Clarksburg in the top 15, but 2:00 spread hurts.
17. Poolesville - Edges out Northwood in "overall" Bull Run scoring by 3 points.
18. Northwood - Won first ever MCPS division title.
19. Blake - Defeated Paint Branch at Bull Run by 5 points.
20. Paint Branch - #1 Hayder Cherinet could be top 50 or better after strong run at Bull Run.
21. Rockville - Rockville was the surprise team of last year's county championship.
22. Wheaton - Defeated Rockville in a dual, but not at the Magruder Invitational.
23. Seneca Valley - Defeated Kennedy at South Carroll Invitational.
24. Kennedy - Tied Wheaton at Magruder Invitational.
25. Watkins Mill - David Gaynor could keep Watkins Mill out of the basement.
The last several years, the girls' county championship has always been fast thanks to bold performances by Morgane Gay and Halsey Sinclair. This year, the Montgomery County girls championship race may not be quite as fast as it has been, but it should be more exciting than ever. Five or six girls have a reasonable shot at the individual title, but expect to see a more strategic three horse race between Wootton's Jessie Rubin, Gaithersburg's Abby Spitler, and Northwest's Britt Eckerstrom.
Jessie Rubin appears to be in the greatest shape after her 18:45 fourth place performance at Glory Days, but she never had to dictate the pace since it was being pushed for her by the Virginia runners. At the Magruder Invitational, Rubin and Spitler "worked together" to run a fast time, but Rubin can't afford to let it come down to a kick between her and Spitler. She will have to control the pace and break away early to capture the win, but how fast is too fast, and how slow is too slow? Her race must be very carefully planned and well-executed to get the win.
Britt Eckerstrom is one of the more dangerous runners in the field because she has been great and she has been not so great. How will her opponents know which it will be? If she takes the lead early as she often did last track season, she makes herself vulnerable and it could be disastrous. If she sits in the pack early on and nobody pushes the pace, nobody will know what to expect from her until they start to go. If the pace is slow, she will finish as strong as anybody whether she's "on" or "off."
Spitler can win this race several ways, whether the early pace is fast or slow. She has shown that she can outrace anyone and even has home course advantage. Lead or follow, she still has the best kick in the end, but if Rubin is simply in much better shape than her at this point in the season, then there is not much she can do.
1. Jessie Rubin, Wootton
2. Abby Spitler, Gaithersburg
3. Britt Eckerstrom, Northwest
4. Alyssa Henshaw, Northwest
5. Anna Bosse, WJ
6. Addie Tousley, B-CC
7. Anna Ryba, Whitman
8. Aimee Moores, QO
9. Maryam Fikri, Churchill
10. Alex Giedd, Churchill
1. Northwest - Northwest has not lost to a Montgomery County team this year. They have the best top two, and should have three more in the top thirty. Watch for a dominating performance in the JV race as well.
2. Quince Orchard - The county's best #3 runner Madeline Kelly elevates QO above most teams in the county, but they don't have the depth of Northwest.
3. Damascus - A tight pack team could squeeze their top five or six into the top thirty spots.
4. Winston Churchill - If everyone has a great day, Churchill is still strong enough to contend for the title, but it will only take a bad race from one runner to knock them out of the top 5.
5. B-CC - B-CC should have a low score from Addie Tousley and potentially five more under 21 minutes.
6. Whitman -Whitman's top three runners rival QO's, but there is a big drop off to the fourth runner.
7. Walter Johnson - WJ is capable of a top 5 performance, but has been inconsistent lately.
8. Wootton - Wootton is good, but very spread out. Jessie Rubin keeps them in the top ten.
9. Montgomery Blair - This year's Blair girls team is the deepest in at least a decade.
10. Sherwood - Sherwood girls must make up a lot of ground after losing their #5 to injury.
11. Richard Montgomery - Teetering right on the edge, RM could land in the top ten if Eva Rodezno runs like she did at the Gaithersburg Tri Meet.
12. Albert Einstein - Solomon twins are gaining confidence.
13. Clarksburg - Lauren Sumner is a good #1, but 3:00+ spread will kill them.
14. Gaithersburg - Abby Spitler keeps Gaithersburg in the top 15.
15. Magruder - Magruder's freshman team would have beaten their "varsity" team at Glory Days. The future is bright.
16. Poolesville - Jenny Reid gives Poolesville a big boost when she runs.
17. Springbrook - Defeated Seneca Valley at Magruder Invitational.
18. Seneca Valley - MCPS Division IV champions have seven girls under 26 minutes this season.
19. Rockville - Defeated Northwood by 87 at Bull Run. Amy Ferro will boost them ahead of Blake, Paint Branch and perhaps Seneca Valley.
20. Blake - Blake defeated four teams in dual meets, but has not fielded a full team in three invitationals.
21. Paint Branch - Paint Branch lost to Springbrook by 1 point in a dual meet.
22. Watkins Mill - WM often does not field a full team, but defeated Northwood in a dual meet.
23. Northwood - Northwood is fielding their first full team ever this year.
24. Wheaton - Wheaton has not fielded a full team this year.
25. Kennedy - Kennedy has not fielded a full team this year.
|Kevin, why do you think QO will beat RM? something against RM?
|I believe that RM should beat QO and be 10th instead of 11th for Boys, but I mean these are predictions so we'll just have to wait and see
|seriously? QO will CRUSH RM. get serious.
|Are you crazy, Kevin? There is no way the RM finishes out of the top ten. Who can compare to their pack like Damascus.
|dont worry RM people. we'll show Kevin tomorrow whats up. then he'll know. u heard
|Who do you think will do well in the Freshman race?
|RM has a shot of putting 5 runners into the top 50. but i'm not quite sure thats good enough to win it
|Sherwood, Northwest and QO's freshmen teams are looking pretty good.
|qo's freshman team may be their only team thats looking good
|HOW U LIKE US NOW MILSTED...YOU CONTINUALLY UNDERESTIMATE RM BUT WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY NOW? WHERE'S THE RESPECT?
|lol rm 11th? try 5th!!! Nice job james, sam, jeremy, jack, jacob, jeremy, and michael!
|I get the feeling a lot of these people are from RM
|anyone see the results from counties? rm was 5th. wow
|DONT WORRY. MILSTED WILL FIND A WAY TO NOT GIVE RM CREDIT...OK WE GET IT, SOLOMON'S UNREAL. BUT SERIOUSLY DUDE. WHERE'S THE RESPECT? 11TH? SERIOUSLY?
|Sherwoods freshmen would have won if their #3 runner didnt have bronchitis
|I wanna know why everybody has got so much to say..but you cant even reveal your names..
|yea we did awesome 2day!!
and good job rm on beating damascus and gathersburg and magruder
|kp how could you not put Antonio is the top 10!
|This is just a big joke. Where is the 4th place runner from states last year? (ANTONIO PALMER) He's not even in the top ten on this!
"Quit Rapp'n and Make It Happen!"
|palmer, what i wanna know is y u aint mad at Kevin w/ us becuz he gave u no respect and said u wouldnt finish in the top 10...and wut did u do. 3rd boii!
|I mean its all good..everyone's entitled to their own opinion..but wen ppl are runnin their mouth bout whos got crushed by who and this and that..i dnt find all dat necessary
|D4NG! N07 only iz he fast az h3ll, he m0dest t00!
|we're not running our mouth man. we just felt we got no respect. which we showed on saturday. thats it. no biggy
|hey rm good job, but its a lot harder to make predictions than you think
|Nice race saturday Antonio, Andrew, Solomon and all others, but cool it about rm crushing peole and how they don't get enough respect. They have to show that they have earned that 5 spot at regions and at states before they can do any talking.
|Hey, kevin are you going to post any updated rankings soon or does that process end after counties?
|Hey, kevin are you going to post any updated rankings soon or does that process end after counties?
|You know words are just words. If you are offended by how low he ranked you guys then just let your actions do the talking, like you guys did. No need to keep stressing it, it takes away from your victory
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