Talk about coming out of nowhere. Maryvale sophomore Emily Craig decided to run cross country to prepare for the indoor track season. Who knew she was a natural.
"During tryouts, I had her fill out a survey," Maryvale cross country coach Jason Miller said. "She wanted to stay in shape. She didn't know much about cross country. The first week of practice I knew she was going to be a rock star."
Craig appears to be well on her way. Her fall resume includes a first-place finish in mid-October's Georgetown Prep Invitational, where she finished 39 seconds ahead of the runner-up. She also posted top-10 finishes in both the Maymont and Gettysburg invitationals.
Now, Craig is focusing on the biggest meet of the season — the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championships at Oregon Ridge Park on Wednesday.
Craig will lead a Maryvale team that moved up to the IAAM A Conference this season after winning the B last year. It features senior Victoria Sill, juniors Kendall Gray, Beth Nixon and Callie Phillips.
"She is a breath of fresh air to have on the team," Miller said. "Every time you tell her something, there's no doubt she listens. She's all in. You tell her about a course and she will dissect it with you. She picks up things very quickly."
Craig attended middle school in Maryvale, moved to Florida for a year before coming back to Maryland last year.
Craig competed for six years for the Owings Mills-based Eagle swim team, but gave up the sport two years ago.
"I didn't want to be so committed anymore," Craig of the early-morning practices. "I ran track when I was young and I was pretty decent for my age group (9-10). I wasn't interested in swimming anymore. So I decided to give running another try."
Notre Dame Prep shooting for 'top-three finish' in IAAM championships
Notre Dame Prep coach Tom Klein is pleased with his team's season. The Blazers won the Mercersburg Invitational and finished third in the medium-school division of the Bull Run Invitational.
Now, comes the IAAM championships after a fourth-place finish in the eight-team A Conference. Klein understands how tough the field will be.
"McDonogh is the favorite," Klein said of the Eagles, who are ranked No. 1 in the Baltimore Sun's high school cross country poll. "The top-four places are likely to be very close. I hate to say it, but being realistic, I don't think we are going to win it overall. We are hoping for a top-three finish. It's possible one of the Bryn Mawr runners will win the race overall."
Klein has high hopes for his top-five runners — junior Abby Potter, freshmen Katie Zygorski, Christa Campbell, and Colleen Keefe and senior Mary Clate Clancy. Junior Colleen Campbell and sophomores Maeve Sheehey and Anne Melia are right behind them.
"It could be one of the most competitive races we have seen in years," Klein said. "We might not have girls in the top five, but we will have all of our kids really closely packed at the finish. It will help our score."