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Consortia XC Championships Preview
By: Ryun Anderson

The weather forecast for Silver Spring on Saturday looks entirely unspectacular. 57 degrees, mostly sunny, no chance of rain. chance of rain?

That's right. For the first time in recent history, it looks as though Northwood's home course may be dry for the annual Consortia Championships.

"It's always wet there," joked Blake coach Andrew Brodeur, who picked up on the trend quickly since coming to Montgomery County.

Feelings about the forecast were mixed among members of the Blake cross country team.

"I am a person who loves rain," said Blake senior Catherine Oberfield, "so I'm a little disappointed about the circumstances." Fellow senior James Newport, however, says he is looking forward to a drier race that could hopefully lead to faster times.

The water and mud, combined with the hills and dirt trails that make up more than half of Northwood's course, usually make for a slow and difficult race. The course is home to one of the most grueling hills in the county, as well as a couple 180-degree turns and a creek crossing.

But something has been changing over the past few seasons. Before the 2011 season when the schools of the Northeast Consortium (Blake, Paint Branch, Springbrook) were added to the mix, the Consortia Championship was a stomping ground for both the Einstein boys and the Blair girls. The expansion of the field changed all that.

Almost every school in the consortia have seen huge improvements over recent years, including the Paint Branch and Wheaton boys and the Einstein and Blake girls. The race, not coincidentally, has gotten faster. Last year, on a soggy course, Lorenzo Neil broke the course record by 18 seconds, and Ciciely Davy came within 2 seconds of the girls course record (also a quick shoutout to Coach Brodeur who holds the all-comers course record of 15:59).

So what about this season? Well, with the conditions looking surprisingly favorable for running, those course records are in serious jeopardy.

On the boys side, Northwood senior Michael Abebe has elevated himself to the upper echelon of Montgomery County runners since joining the cross country team as a sophomore. Had Neil not been there last year, Abebe would hold the course record at 16:32 (13 seconds faster than Ben Withbroe of Einstein ran in 2012). He enters this race with a chance to knock off Neil's time of 16:27 and send a statement to the rest of the county before the Moco Championships next weekend.

Behind him should be a tight race between Einstein's Alejandro Arias and Blake's James Newport. At last year's meet, Newport outkicked Arias on the track, beating him by two seconds. However, Arias posted a faster time at Bull Run this year (17:02 in the medium race, compared to Newport's 17:15 in the large race). Both runners will have their eyes set on Abebe and an individual Consortia Championship.

"He has really emerged as a leader and inspiration for the team since he has worked so hard to get where he is now," Coach Brodeur praised of Newport. "We are both expecting a top five performance on Saturday," he said, but also noted that he wants the meet to prepare his team for the deeper competition at the county championships next weekend.

On the girls side, Einstein senior Ciciely Davy returns to try and defend her Consortia title, but it won't be easy, as she'll have to deal with Paint Branch senior Bethlehem Taye, who has continued her breakout track success into the fall season. Last year Davy ran virtually unopposed, cruising to a victory while narrowly missing Morgana D'Ottavi's course record of 20:12. Taye has a season PR of 18:40 and has scored dominating victories over some of the county's top runners at dual meets. Whatever the outcome of the race, you can almost bet that the current course record is going to be shattered by one of these girls.

Which teams will host the coveted Consortia Cup this season?

On the boys side, Paint Branch has won the last two races, but Einstein looks primed to return to glory with a solid class of underclassmen (three sophomores and a freshman) backing up Arias.

Second place will be a true free-for-all. Blair's depth has proved essential in their winning of division three, and they could possibly finish second without having a runner in the top seven or eight guys. Blake has built a solid varsity five to support Newport and could fare better against Blair in a championship race format. The Paint Branch boys suffered heavy graduation losses but have some of the most impressive times of the three teams coming into the meet, having run at fast courses like Barnhart and DCXC. Wheaton, the division four champions, cannot be counted out, as they will be looking for their first-ever top three finish at the meet.

How about the girls? Einstein, very much like the Paint Branch boys, have won the past two years after unseating Blair in 2013. They will have their hands full, however, with a Blair team that looked strong at Bull Run. Einstein will have the advantage of frontrunners in the race, but a subpar race from one of their key girls could open the door for Blair.

The Paint Branch girls are also a sneaky team in this race. Their 0-5 division record may seem unappealing, but they have fared much better at invitationals this season (6th place at Barnhart) and have the advantage of the individual favorite in the race. Blake would have also been a candidate for a top three finish (they beat Clarksburg at a division meet this year and only lost the division on a tiebreaker), but they are dealing with injuries to two of their top runners and won't be at full strength for the meet.

This race promises to be a very competitive race continuing the upward trend of running in the eastern side of the county. Also, with favorable race conditions, we could see the fastest Consortia Championships to date.

Below I have composed a "table of champions" from this meet's history and a list of the top fifteen times at the meet (repeats excluded).


Year    Winner                      	Time
2014	Lorenzo Neil, PB        	16:27
2013	Lorenzo Neil, PB        	17:00
2012	Ben Withbroe, AE      		16:45
2011	Nick Simpson, AE      		17:30
2010	Andrew Ceruzzi, AE   		17:31
2009	Andrew Ceruzzi, AE   		18:34

Year	Winner                        	Time
2014	Ciciely Davy, AE          	20:14
2013	Karen Escobedo, SP    		20:33
2012	Sydney Almeida, SP    		20:26
2011	Morgana D'Ottavi, MB   		20:42
2010	Morgana D'Ottavi, MB   		20:12
2009	Morgan Kershner, NW   		22:19


Year   Runner				Time
2014   Lorenzo Neil, PB               	16:27
2014   Michael Abebe, NW           	16:32
2012   Ben Withbroe, AE              	16:45
2014   Binyam Tadesse, JK         	16:45
2012   Nick Simpson, AE             	16:45
2013   Harold Dorsey, PB             	17:09
2012   Ryan Henderson, AE         	17:11
2014   Oliver Lloyd, PB                	17:15
2014   Andree' Di-Reumante, NW  	17:18
2014   Ryun Anderson, PB           	17:20
2014   James Newport, JB           	17:22
2012   Luke Simpson, AE             	17:22
2014   Alejandro Arias, AE           	17:24
2010   Andrew Ceruzzi, AE           	17:31
2014   Josh Oxley, JB                 	17:31

Year   Runner                              Time
2010   Morgana D'Ottavi, MB		20:12
2014   Ciciely Davy, Einstein  		20:14
2012   Sydney Almeida, SP		20:26
2013   Karen Escobedo, SP              	20:33
2014   Pauline McMurry, AE             	20:38
2012   Victoria Cabellos, AE		20:46
2014   Mahlet Bauerle, AE		21:03
2014   Josephine Brane-Wright, MB	21:06
2013   Catherine Oberfield, JB          21:07
2013   Alexis Doon, NW			21:09
2014   Yasmine Kass, PB                	21:11
2012   Lauren Logan, AE          	21:11
2012   Natalie Gradwohl, MB            	21:12
2014   Halcyon Ruskin, AE              	21:17
2014   Zoe Friedman, MB                	21:18

Also, Georgetown Prep will host its annual Georgetown Prep Classic on Saturday and, judging off the teams entered, the race is going to be extremely competitive, especially on the boys side. Good Counsel, Severna Park, Loyola Blakefield, and Mt. St. Joe's are arguably four of the top five boys teams in the state and will square off at Prep on Saturday. If you're looking for something to do on Saturday afternoon, go check out one of these two local races.

On a final note, Northwood will recognize the 40th anniversary of the first girls cross country state championship meet in Maryland which took place in 1975. Title IX was passed in 1972 and girls began running in Montgomery County right away, but there was not an officially sanctioned state championship meet for girls until 1975. Northwood won that first girls state title with 73 points by taking three of the first four positions. The first individual female state champion was Mary Walsh of Northwood who completed the 2.5 mile course at the Naval Academy in 15:07, a victory by 53 seconds over the second place runner. The coach of that team was Dan Reeks, who remains a track and cross country coach in Montgomery County to this day.


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