After the 2020 cross country season was canceled because of COVID-19, the 2021 Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference championships became a contest of which runners and teams could rebound the fastest.
Tuesday’s event at Brantwood Regional Park in Elkton showed that the C. Milton Wright girls and the Bel Air boys made the best comebacks. CMW’s Ashton Tolson and Bel Air’s Elizabeth Pickett were the best among the individual runners.
Tolson won the boys varsity race by 13 seconds over Day Leone of Bohemia Manor. In doing so, he matched a high school achievement of his father, Jeff Tolson, who won the 1997 Harford County Conference crown at CMW (before UCBAC came along).
Pickett won the girls race by 25 seconds over Fallston junior Emily Atha. Pickett, a senior, was a member the Bel Air team that won the UCBAC and finished second in the state meet in the last full season in 2019.
This time, however, it was the CMW girls who had the most depth among the 11 complete teams in the field. CMW placed five scorers in the first 12 places to win by 14 points over Bel Air. The Mustangs’ Ellie Bassham finished fourth; Ella Swain, sixth; Morgan Perry, eighth; Sophia Skinner, ninth; and Lauren Tooman, 12th for a low score of 39 points.
None of the top seven were on the CMW varsity team before this season. “This is by far the most inexperienced group I have ever had,” longtime CMW coach Donnie Mickey said. “They have made great progress this year.”
Pickett led the field of 81 girls easily. Behind her, teammates Morgan Loewe placed third and Emily Hancock tenth, but missing from this team was 2019 UCBAC champion Mackenzie Morrison, now a senior, who has not run this season because of injury. Unable to match the depth of CMW, the Bobcats took second with 53 points. North Harford, led by newcomer Finley Lavin, a junior, took third, and Rising Sun was fourth.
Bel Air won the boys’ team title with all five scorers in the top 17. Shane Ivy finished fifth; Bryce Knoll, seventh; Daniel Cross, 10th; Garrett Saboy, 15th; and Jaden Parrish, 17th. The Bobcats had to withstand a strong challenge by Aberdeen, a team that has not won a conference cross country title since the sport was introduced to Harford County in 1968.
Aberdeen put four runners across the finish line before Bel Air’s fourth arrived. Daniel Wilson placed fourth; Kalel Duncan, ninth; Donovan Peyton, 12th; Holden Cross, 13th; and Lars Lefkowitz, 28th. The performance of Bel Air’s No. 5 runner, Parrish at 17th place, proved decisive, and the Bobcats won 54-66.
The Fallston boys, led by Alex Xavier and Quinn Daly in the top 10, finished third. CMW, led by Luke Puhulla and Luke Beegle, finished fourth.
Top 20 boys: Ashton Tolson, CMW, 15:56; Day Leone, BM, 16:09; Alex Xavier, F, 16:21; Daniel Wilson, A, 16:47; Shane Ivy, BA, 16:53; Quinn Daly, F, 17:06; Bryce Knoll, BA, 17:09; John Saltysiak, HT, 17:21; Kalel Duncan, A, 17:23; Daniel Cross, BA, 17:26; Ryan Buddenbohn, Edge, 17:30; Donovan Peyton, A, 17:39; Holden Cross, A, 17:40; James Ortt, NH, 17:41; Garrett Saboy, BA, 17:42; Berkeley Tisch, PM, 17:48; Jaden Parrish, BA, 17:48; Noah Beck, BM, 18:05; Aman Tripathi, Edge, 18:08; Michael Young, PV, 18:11.
Top 20 girls: Elizabeth Pickett, BA, 19:03; Emily Atha, F, 19:28; Morgan Loewe, BA, 20:12; Ellie Bassham, CMW, 20:16; Finley Lavin, NH, 20:30; Ella Swayne, CMW, 20:34; Delaney Saulsbury, Edge, 20:40; Morgan Perry, CMW, 20:43; Sophia Skinner, CMW, 20:52; Emilie Hancock, BA, 21:37; Abigail Bond, Edge, 21:55; Lauren Tooman, CMW, 21:55; Ella Pennington, Elk, 21:58; Annika DeVos, HT, 22:05; Savannah Lacey, RS, 22:06; Anna Thompson, BA, 22:07; Lillian Aleander, HdG, 22:11; Sierra Weaver, NH, 22:11; Emily Wishart, RS, 22:22; Megan Willats, F, 22:23; Mackenna Senko, HdG, 22:24.