Fans of the host school will be watching the strong strides of Dulaney senior Isabel Griffith, who will be running in her final Barnhart Invitational in the 31st annual showcase on Saturday, Sept. 28.
Griffith won the event held on the Timonium course for the first time in her career last year when she ran a personal-best 18:54 to defeat Westminster High runner-up Natalie Eastwood by 20 seconds.
She went on the capture Baltimore County and regional titles and was fourth in the Class 4A state meet.
“The key to cross country success is incremental improvement, and she is a master of it,” Dulaney coach Chad Boyle said. “She does all the details necessary and she’s gotten better at self-evaluation in a positive critical way, whether it’s a workout or a race.”
Griffith hasn’t chosen a college yet, but the University of Colorado, the College of William & Mary, Wake Forest University and other top-notch programs are pursuing her.
Griffith was one of five Lion girls to place in the top 20 in the 2012 Barnhart.
Three of them, including senior Lily Klein (9th, 20:36), junior Christa Carey (14th, 21:14) and senior Alison Schwartz (20th, 21:38) all return for the Lions, who finished second in the team chase to Centennial last year.
Seniors Natalie Giordano and Sam Smyth, juniors Sarang Hentz, Maria Andrade and Julie Ciociola and sophomore Brynn Jones are also candidates for one of the top seven spots for the Lions, who competed in the Spiked Shoe Invitational Sept. 21.
Griffith was five seconds behind Catholic’s Ellie Gonzalez (18:38) at the Spiked Shoe.
In the 2012 boys race at Barnhart, Dulaney was fifth (76).
The Lions were led by Daniel Fordyce (10th, 17:18) in the race won by Linganore’s Pat DuBoyce (15:47).
Although Fordyce now attends Cornell University, the Lions return a slew of talent as well as some young runners ready to make an impact.
“We are really strong on the boys side,” said Boyle, noting his top runner should come from the trio of junior Adolfo Carvalho and sophomores Eric Walz and Austin Carey.
Sophomore Andrew King, who paired with Griffith to win the Baltimore County Relays coed event, and seniors Nick Bond and Ethan Griffin, are also veteran performers.
Junior Noah Trapp and sophomores Elijah Hawkins and Sean Smyth are ready to challenge for one of the top seven spots.
“They are coming on strong,” said Boyle, two days before the Lion boys competed in the Spiked Shoe Invitational. “I’m optimistic, but I’ll let the results speak for themselves.”
The Dulaney boys finished second in the Spiked Shoe Invitational.
The Barnhart Invitational is traditionally held the second weekend in September, but a scheduling conflict with Yom Kippur forced Boyle to move it back.
“To be honest, we were looking forward to getting an opportunity to try it on a different date,” said Boyle, noting the race was previously held a day after the Howard County Invitational.
Moving it allows defending champ Centennial boys and girls return as well as Reservoir, which nipped Centennial for the 2012 Class 3A girls state champion.
Marriott’s Ridge, Howard and Oakland Mills will also compete from Howard County at Barnhart.
Among the Baltimore County schools slated to attend are defending Class 3A boys state champion Hereford, as well as Towson, Catonsville, Pikesville, Franklin, Loch Raven, Kenwood and Carver.
Loyola-Blakefield, second in the boys race last season, returns senior runner-up Tyler Spear, second last year at Barnhart (16:11) and first in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, and sophomore Frankie Legambi, who was eighth (17:10) at Barnhart.
Fellow MIAA schools McDonogh, Gilman and Lutheran are also expected to participate at the meet.