Hannah Toth was cut from the girls soccer team her freshman year at Westminster. It might’ve been the best thing that could’ve happened to her.
Her response was to join cross country instead, and four years later she leaves as one of the best runners in Maryland with a Division I scholarship.
Toth won seven races in her senior season. She started by winning the Seahawk Invitational at South River in 18 minutes, 12.36 seconds, her best time of the season. Two weeks, later she won the prestigious Bull Run Invitational at Hereford (18:55.3), a gathering of the best runners in Maryland public and private schools.
She ran her way to the Carroll County championship (19:33.7), the Class 3A East Region title (19:23) and closed her campaign with a dominant performance at the Class 3A state championships, winning the race in 19:08, nearly 48 seconds faster than the runner-up.
For her efforts, Toth is the 2022 Carroll County Times girls cross country Runner of the Year.
“My freshman year, I didn’t really plan on running,” Toth said. “I tried out for soccer and didn’t make the team, so I went to cross country as a second resort. But ever since then, I’ve really loved running.”
Several factors play into Toth developing her love for the sport.
“I think competing and seeing the work put in coming out in results I wanted, or if I had a bad race, reflecting on what I can learn for this or what can I do better,” she said. “Putting the work in and seeing results is really nice for me personally.”
Toth put a great deal of work into her craft in the offseason, working her way up to running 50 miles a week before tapering down before the season started.
“When I wasn’t really competing, it was a lot more running base mileage, building that mileage up to where I wanted it to be over the summer and where I never really thought I’d be running that much,” Toth said. “To get there at that high mileage was definitely an accomplishment for me and I think it also showed during my cross country season.”
Toth was coming off a junior year in which she finished 24th at the Carroll County meet and seventh at the Class 3A state meet. She made huge strides her junior outdoor track season, finishing second in the 1,600.
“I didn’t really have much expectations for cross country season,” she said. “I personally find myself better on the track, but coming back to cross country, I definitely had some higher hopes from what I’ve run in the past, especially with last year’s season of track, that was kind of my breakthrough.”
There was also an added drive after she won her silver medal to upgrade.
“To have those state medals is something special,” Toth said. “You can wear them at graduation and stuff. I’d say it was a little more of a drive to get gold.”
She still has the indoor and outdoor track season to add more accolades before moving on to Marshall University in the fall.
“Me and my parents both liked the school, I liked that it’s a little more my pace,” she said. “I was looking for a school that obviously had my major [exercise science] because I’m going to college for college and running is a side thing.”
All-County first team
Cora Broske, Liberty, junior
Broske finished in the top 10 in seven races, including a fourth-place finish at the Carroll County championships (22:41.9). She was 17th at the Class 2A state championships (22:19.4).
Rebecca Gauthier, Liberty, senior
Gauthier was second at in the small school race at the Bull Run Invitational (22:06.1) and was fifth at the county championships (22:07.9). She finished 10th at the Class 2A state championships (21:44.77).
Grace Hartlove, Westminster, freshman
Hartlove finished eighth at the county meet for the league champion Owls. She followed that up with a person record at the Class 3A East Region meet to finish 13th (21:05).
Natalie Holcombe, Century, junior
Carroll County Daily Headlines
Holcombe finished seventh at the Carroll County championships (22:21) and earned ninth at the Class 2A West Region meet (22:27.2). She finished 28th at the 2A state championships (23:06.4).
Audrey Houle, Westminster, senior
Houle was county runner-up to her teammate Toth, finishing in 21:11.3. She was ninth at the Class 3A East Region meet (20:50.2) and 20th at the 3A state championships (21:28.8).
Elizabeth Szybalski, Manchester Valley, sophomore
Sybaski didn’t run many races for the Mavericks in the fall but excelled when she was on the course. She finished third at the county championships in a personal-record 21:30.7.
Jordyn Haller, Westminster, junior
Haller ran a 5K personal-best time of 22:16.7 to finish sixth at the county championships. She also finished top 10 at the Seahawk Invitational, finishing ninth in 23:48.2.