Five coaches from the Down County Consortium were polled and the Einstein boys are unanimously favored to win the first annual Down County Consortium Cross Country Championship. As for the probable girls team winner, most coaches are on the fence having trouble choosing between Blair and Northwood.
In a sentence, the Down County Consortium (DCC) is a grouping of five Montgomery County Public Schools offering distinct academic programs. Each year, 8th grade students living in the consortium zone and/or attending a DCC feeder school choose between Blair, Einstein, Wheaton, Kennedy, and Northwood based on what they believe is best for them as individuals.
The plan for the Down County Consortium Cross Country Championship is to have races for all age levels from elementary school, to middle school, to high school, to a community race for parents, staff, and coaches.
The high school coaches are enthusiastic about the meet.
Kennedy Coach Kevin Monroe says, "It is a great idea. It will only help to raise awareness of cross country."
Speaking on the union of races for different age levels, Einstein coach Eric DaSilva says, "Anything that fosters a sense of community in our neck of the woods is important because community participation is lacking."
The coaches acknowledge the DCC has not produced cross country powerhouses in the last few years. Whether it is due to a lack of "awareness", lack of "community", or lack of desire, a meet like this could be just what the athletes need to spark excitement.
DaSilva explains, "It's a good thing for the schools in our part of the county to compete against like schools."
Blair coach Charlie Demma explains, "Building a rivalry is always a motivator for the kids."
Northwood coach Mike Sauter has put in an enormous amount of work to make this meet come to be. Pacers will sponsor and time the event while a Saucony representative will be on hand to give away prizes.
The MCPS athletics coordinator has reportedly not cooperated with the event in terms of supporting the middle school race. All DCC feeder middle schools have pre-scheduled cross country meets on the same day and MCPS would not make alternative arrangements to allow the feeder middle schools to compete in this championship meet. It is a hurdle that will need to be cleared up in the next meet. Track coaches are already discussing a DCC Track & Field Championship Meet in the spring.
The middle school race may still go on if enough young runners show up with their parents. As for the high school race, these kids are excited about what should become a hotly contested rivalry championship meet in the next several years.
The coaches unanimously believe the Einstein boys will claim the first victory. Mocorunning.com agrees. These Einstein boys narrowly lost the division III title to Poolesville last week, but have proven to be in the top half of teams in Montgomery County this year. Their core group of guys have been in the mid-17's to low 18's for 5k's this year.
Individually, the race will likely come down to Einstein's star freshman Nick Simpson, Einstein junior Andrew Ceruzzi, and Northwood's Enricco Reumante. Simpson has shown such talent early this season that he could conceivably own this race this year and every year that he is in high school - it would make a great story anyways.
The winners of the high school races could potentially both be freshman as Simpson not only looks strong, but ninth grader Morgan Kershner of Northwood has only just begun to tap into her potential. Starting the season with 24 and 25 minute races, she dropped a time of 22:41 on the famously difficult Bull Run Invitational course followed by 20:57 on a fast Frank Keyser Invitational 3 mile course. The toughest challenger may be Jennifer Sholar of Blair who has consistently been running in the 22 minute range this season including 21:55 at the Peter Geraghty Invitational and 22:42 on a tough Smokey Glenn Farms course.
Mocorunning sides with the coaches who believe the Blair girls will take first place over Northwood. When the two teams met at the Magruder Invitational in early September, it was not close with Blair taking 10th place and Northwood taking 20th place. Blair has not lost any ground, seldom racing but usually putting a half dozen girls or more under 25 minutes. Northwood easily won the division IV title and has improved as a team in every meet when at full strength, but does not have the depth of the Blair girls.