Carroll County will have some veteran talent mixed in with fresh faces this fall.
Carroll returns six of eight Times first-team all-countians in 2018 — Century’s Elise Greenwald, Sammie Spargo and Jenna Zietowski from Liberty, Manchester Valley’s Rubie Goffena, South Carroll’s Danielle Firlie, and Winters Mill’s Kathryn Hopkins.
Goffena, a sophomore, earned the 2018 Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year following a strong freshman campaign.
South Carroll’s girls squad captured its first county title since 2015 last fall and the team’s third in seven seasons. They will set to do so again with new coach Joe Murray at the helm — Murray coached indoor and outdoor track at SC for 20 years prior to taking on this new role.
Here are three things to watch for girls cross country this fall:
Three new coaches leading programs this fall
Century, Francis Scott Key, and South Carroll’s programs will each have new coaches this fall.
Mindy Grosh will assist Chris Mead on Century’s coaching staff, Tracey Smith takes over for Juan Cortez at FSK, and Murray, a former longtime SC track coach, will lead the cross country program for the first time.
This year’s county championship meet will return to South Carroll, where the Cavaliers will play host for the first time since 2010. The meet was held at McDaniel College from 2011-2018.
Rubie Goffena looks to defend individual titles
Goffena, the 2018 Times Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, won 10 of 12 races in her freshman campaign that included victories at the county championship and Class 3A West meets.
She became the first Man Valley athlete to capture an individual county title since 2012 when she won the county meet in 19 minutes, 24.4 seconds at McDaniel College on Oct. 24. Goffena finished 46 seconds ahead of the rest of the field and led the race the entire way.
Despite taking a wrong turn at the beginning of the 3A West meet at Watkins Mill High School on Nov. 1, Goffena re-positioned herself, made up ground, and won the race with ease — about 18 seconds ahead of the next athlete.
Goffena completed her first varsity season with a fifth-place finish at the 3A state meet at Hereford on Nov. 10 and continued to improve her times throughout the season.
A healthy Makenzie Hopkins returns for Winters Mill
Hopkins pulled off a striking freshman campaign for the Falcons in 2017.
Hopkins won the county meet to help the Falcons take second place as a team. She finished third at the Class 2A West meet and third again at the 2A state meet, good for a personal record time of 19:45.3. She was also Carroll’s top finisher at states that year en route to being named Times Runner of the Year.
However, Hopkins was forced to sit out her sophomore season with an injury. Twin sister Kathryn finished second at counties, third at the 2A West meet and her third place finish at the 2A state meet was the best of any Carroll athlete in the field.
The combination of the Hopkins duo should likely give the Falcons a good boost during championship season. First team all-countian Dellaney Georgiana graduated last year, and she finished seventh in the county for the Falcons in 2018.