Towson High is the host school for the Class 3A North Region cross country championship meet on Nov. 3 and Towson senior Jon Ellis is expected to be among the leaders.
Last year, Ellis was fourth in the regional race, behind a trio of seniors, who have since moved on.
This season, Ellis is the one doing the moving — to the front of the pack.
Ellis is coming off a victory in the Baltimore County championship meet on Oct. 22 at Dulaney High, when he won in a time of 16.03.27.
He also has runner-up finishes in two other invitationals (Gunpowder and Spiked Shoe), was fifth in the Barnhart Invitational and eighth at the Glory Days Invitational.
Ellis was the highest finishing Baltimore County runner in all of the invitationals.
In the county championship race he was on the heels of Dulaney junior Matt Owens for more than 2 miles of the 3.1-mile race and he rallied to win.
"Jon has done so well all year long so it's no surprise that he was able to pull that race out," said Dulaney coach Chad Boyle, whose boys and girls teams won the team titles at the county meet.
Ellis had a plan, but he didn't execute it until later than expected.
"I knew going in that it would just be me and Matt Owens, and going through my head I wanted to try and pass him as soon as possible, but that didn't end up working out, especially in the middle of the race," Ellis said. "He just kept countering my moves and so I decided I had to out kick him at the end,"
The dominating kick was something he had develop.
"I used to not have any kick at all, especially in my freshman and sophomore years," said Ellis, who was eighth in the county championship race last year. "This whole season I've been a kick kind of guy, just trying to pass people at the end. I don't know where it comes from because I feel dead going into it."
During the outdoor track season last spring, his finishing kick surfaced during the postseason.
"When I ran track last year, I actually got faster on the kick so that was a big piece of this," Ellis said.
In the Class 3A state outdoor track meet he placed sixth in the 3,200 meters in a personal best time of 9:49.10.
"He ran 9:49 for two miles in the outdoor season, but when you run as well as he did last year, but you are behind all those Dulaney guys and some of those other runners, it is easy to lose track of how good he was in the spring," Towson coach Gil Stange said.
During the summer he came out of the shadows of the Dulaney runners that claimed the top five spots at last year's county championship.
The top four Lions graduated and only Owens, who was fifth, was back this season.
"That 9:49 at states was a springboard to serious work in the summer," Stange said.
"I did a lot more mileage this summer than in previous years," Ellis added.
That mileage paid off for Ellis, who led the Generals (55 points) to second place at the cross country county meet behind Dulaney (30 points).
Ellis' teammates at counties included: Sushant Dhaurali (10th,16:58.34), Vincente Iglesias (13th, 17:24.40), Jack Morgan (14th, 17:26.34), Liam Jones (17th, 17:33.20), Cory Parts (21st, 17:47.51) and Tyler Paul (22nd, 17:48.97).
Ellis was the sixth Baltimore County champion from Towson High since 1948 and the first since Mason Campbell in 2006 and he could not have been more excited.
"It's amazing," Ellis said. "The feeling that I got when I finished, there is nothing I can really describe, just a lot of happiness, just really happy."
The Towson girls aim to improve at the regional race after a strong Baltimore County meet when they placed third (67) behind front-running Dulaney (35) and Hereford (36).
Towson was paced by top 25 finishes from Karen Prem (sixth, 19:52.86), Jaqui Sheedy (seventh, 19:54.99), Lauren Miller (14th, 20:40.70), Sydney Conboy (18th, 21:03.36), Emily Stange (22nd, 21:32.32) and Amelia Kline (23rd, 21:35.95).
"Karen was five or six for us last year and she's our number one," Stange said. "The roles have changed."