Runner of the Year: Cori Koch, Towson
Among the splashier debuts in cross country, Koch practically cannonballed her way through the field. The junior and Baltimore City/County Runner of the Year didn't lose a single race this fall, winning every dual meet and invitational in which she was a participant. Many of her victories in invitationals were in convincing fashion, averaging a 32-second difference between her and the runner-up. Besides winning the Knights Invitational, the small schools division of the Bull Run, the Meade Autumn Classic and the Westminster Invitational, Koch swept titles at the Baltimore County, Class 2A North regional and Class 2A state championships. She placed 47th in the Northeast Regional of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. A transfer from St. Paul's, Koch paired with teammate Anastasia Mukhina to propel the Generals to fifth place in the states.
Coach of the Year: Murray Davis, C. Milton Wright
With two first-team and one second-team All-Metro standouts returning from last season's Class 4A state championship squad, it would've been easy for Davis to sit back and relax. But that's not Davis' style. Instead, he and assistant coach Eric Clark challenged the Mustangs to reach higher, and the team accepted the responsibility by capturing its second consecutive state title. Blessed with a group of runners who weren't flashy but consistent, Davis, Clark and C. Milton Wright kicked off the year by winning the Spiked Shoe Invitational, and never looked back as they went wire-to-wire as the area's top-ranked program. In a repeat of last season's state championship quest, the Mustangs edged rival Dulaney by single digits.
Tarynn Barker, North Carroll
Running alongside teammate Colleen Lawson, Barker, the Carroll County Runner of the Year, emerged as the Panthers' top running threat this season. The junior began to make her mark midway through the season by placing third at the Central Maryland Conference championships and winning the Carroll County crown. Barker's second-place finish behind Lee McDuff at the Class 3A state meet helped North Carroll earn its first state team title.
Nyam Kagwima, Bryn Mawr
Kagwima quickly laid to rest any notion of a sophomore slump. The repeat first-team All-Metro runner won the Spiked Shoe Invitational and placed second in the small schools race of the Bull Run and at the Meade Autumn Classic. Kagwima capped her season by winning the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland crown in a season-best 18:30 and placing second at the Mid-Atlantic Private Schools Invitational. Her 36th-place finish among 139 runners at the Foot Locker meet was the best by an area runner.
Colleen Lawson, North Carroll
Despite being worn down by asthma and a fickle knee injury dating back to last winter's indoor track season, Lawson battled on. The senior and two-time Class 3A state champ was third at the Spiked Shoe Invitational and second behind Tarynn Barker at the county championships. Her most stirring performances came at the regional and state levels, where she placed third at regionals (20:18) and seventh at states (20:43).
Lee McDuff, River Hill
Winning the Howard County Runner of the Year award only magnified the excellent season McDuff put together. The senior won the Howard County Invitational and the large schools race of the Bull Run. After placing fourth in the seeded race of the Georgetown Prep Classic, McDuff ran the table by capturing county, Class 3A East regional and state titles. McDuff, a two-time first-team All-Metro selection, led the Hawks to a second-place finish behind North Carroll.
Shannon McMurray, Severna Park
McMurray, a converted field hockey player, seemed just as content chasing runners as she was chasing field hockey balls. The senior made the most of her debut season by being the Falcons' No. 1 runner and winning the Anne Arundel County Invitational. The Anne Arundel County Runner of the Year finished seventh at the state meet.
Kacie Remeto, C. Milton Wright
If the Mustangs had a star in the lineup, the spotlight would've been on Remeto. The senior and repeat first-team All-Metro pick was second at the Knights Invitational and third at the Westminster Invitational. Remeto captured her second straight Harford County and Class 4A East regional championships by 46 and 12 seconds, respectively. She finished 14th in the state meet at Hereford.
Carrie Selmer, Glenelg
After losing to Nory Sams of Allegany in last year's Class 1A state championship, Selmer honed her racing strategy. The junior's plan to be deliberate before making her move paid off in this season's state final as she surged past three contenders and cruised to a 20-second victory. The title followed a first-place finish at the Class 1A Central regional and a second-place finish at the Howard County Invitational. Selmer helped the Gladiators finish two points behind state champ Smithsburg.
Cara Wettlaufer, C. Milton Wright
As dependable as she is fast, Wettlaufer peaked late in the season. After a pair of seventh- and eighth-place finishes at the beginning of the year, the senior was second at the Harford County Championships behind teammate Kacie Remeto. Wettlaufer, a second-team All-Metro choice last season, placed fourth at regionals, but her biggest contribution was at states, where she finished sixth to propel the Mustangs to back-to-back state crowns.
Tenke Zoltani, Dulaney
Not even injuries could keep Zoltani, a two-time All-Metro first-teamer, from producing a noteworthy season. The junior had a string of firsts at the Barnhart and Lancer invitationals and in the elite race of the Bull Run. After missing the Georgetown Prep Classic and the Baltimore County championships due to shin splints, Zoltani finished first at the Class 4A North regional. Zoltani was second at the state meet and 37th at the Foot Locker meet.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun