The date was October 17, 2015. The location was Northwood High School. It wa a crisp, sunny and picturesque fall
afternoon. A crowd stood on the far end of the practice fields behind the school, nervously awaiting the return of 78
girls who were running through the trails in the woods. It had been at least ten minutes since most of the spectators
had seen the girls; what little information they had on the progression of the race blasted over the loudspeakers as
Northwood coach Michael Sauter broadcasted from somewhere in the woods.
After what seemed more like ten hours than ten minutes, someone spotted a shadowy figure making its way back to the
fields. Then another, about fifteen seconds behind. Anybody who knew the girls in the race had but one thought racing
through their minds.
Which one was Ciciely and which one was Beth?
A bit of background: Einstein's Ciciely Davy and Paint Branch's Beth Taye were not just the top runners in the race,
they were two of the top runners in the entire state. They were almost guaranteed to smash the Consortia Championship
Oh, and they sort of look like alike. Heck, they could pass for sisters.
Finally, after about fifteen seconds of speculating, the first girl emerged. It was Davy. Taye emerged about 50
meters behind her. However, with the fans and other athletes around the field cheering them wildly for the final half
mile, Taye slowly closed the gap. As they crested the final hill before the track, Taye overtook Davy and pulled away
for a twelve second victory.
As the rest of the field finished and the boys prepared to race, I realized something. This meet was not just some
little county tune-up. It was not a stomping ground for a solid program or two to bulldoze lesser teams, as it had been
before. This was championship cross country.
The meet has come a long way since its humble five-team beginnings in 2009. After years of the Einstein boys and
Blair girls dominating the meet, nothing can be taken for granted anymore. Take this example: in 2014, all eight boys
teams had at least one medalist (top 15). Every team has had at least one top eight finisher in the meet's seven-year
history. In fact, there is a possibility this year that each school has a top ten finisher on the boys side.
The top returner from last year's race, Einstein's Simeon Mussie,
is probably the favorite heading into the race. He scored a huge victory this week by beating Oakland Mills' Joey
Navarro at Scorpion Crawl. It has been three years since an Einstein boy last won the Consortia Championships; Ben
Withbroe set the (then) meet-record of 16:45 back in 2012.
Mussie certainly won't be running by himself on Saturday. One of his top challengers will be Northwood's Obsaa Feda.
After flashing his potential last track season when he ran 10:06.41 in the 3200, he has had an excellent first cross
country season. He followed in the footsteps of last year's Consortia champion, Michael Abebe, by winning the varsity B
race at the Oatlands Invitational. He also finished fourth in the junior boys race at the three-mile DCXC Invitational
where he ran 15:53.
Don't count out Wheaton's Jason Scott, either. He finished fifth at last year's Consortia Championships. At his only
invitational so far this season, he finished 19th at the Howard County Invitational - just one spot behind Poolesville's
Last year the Einstein boys won their first Consortia Cup since the 2012 season. The Titans have four runners this
season who could possibly place among the top ten, but an enormous gap between their fourth and fifth runners possibly
leaves the door open to another team taking home the cup.
Who could that team be? Maybe the 2013-14 champions from Paint Branch, who beat Blake, Springbrook and Kennedy at
the Barnhart Invitational and Blair at the Spiked Shoe Invitational. Or perhaps the Blair boys will use the depth they
showed in their recent dual meet win over Springbrook to capture their first-ever boys Consortia Cup. All eight teams
have a chance to put a runner in the top ten, something that has never been done in the race's history.
It's hard to imagine a girls race as fiercely competitive as
last year's, but that doesn't mean there won't be another great race. Paint Branch's Yasmine Kass clocked the fastest
time by a Consortia girl this season when she ran 19:04.90 earlier this season at the Barnhart Invitational. After
finishing sixth at last year's Consortia Championships, she took the next step during the track season posting personal
bests of 2:21.40 and 5:05.67.
Kass' biggest threat will probably be Blair's Josephine Brane-Wright, who beat her last year at this race. Brane-
Wright also leads a Blair girls team seeking its sixth Consortia Cup in eight years. They edged out Taye and the Paint
Branch girls by three points last year, but after beating the Paint Branch girls handily at the Spiked Shoe Invitational
this season they seem to be heading for another Consortia Championship Title.
The Blair girls have one of the stronger teams 1-7 in the county this season. 2011 was the last time they qualified
as a team for the state championships and Saturday will provide an excellent opportunity to see just how strong this
team is heading into the county championships next Saturday at Gaithersburg.
One final note: for the second straight year the weather for the Consortia Championships is expected to be picture-
perfect: sunny, 64 degrees with a slight breeze. You know what that feels like?
It feels like championship season.
Year Boys Champs Girls Champs
2015 Einstein Blair
2014 Paint Branch Einstein
2013 Paint Branch Einstein
2012 Einstein Blair
2011 Einstein Blair
2010 Einstein Blair
2009 Einstein Blair
2015 Michael Abebe Northwood 16:35
2014 Lorenzo Neil Paint Branch 16:27 (Meet Record)
2013 Lorenzo Neil Paint Branch 17:00
2012 Ben Withbroe Einstein 16:45
2011 Nick Simpson Einstein 17:30
2010 Andrew Ceruzzi Einstein 17:31.23
2009 Andrew Ceruzzi Einstein 18:34
2015 Bethlehem Taye Paint Branch 19:26 (Meet Record)
2014 Ciciely Davy Einstein 20:14
2013 Karen Escobedo Springrbook 20:33
2012 Sydney Almeida Springbrook 20:26
2011 Morgana D'Ottavi Blair 20:42
2010 Morgana D'Ottavi Blair 20:12.22
2009 Morgan Kershner Northwood 22:19