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Howard County 2021 cross country preview

A preview of the 2021 Howard County cross country season, with team-by-team capsules and players to watch.
A preview of the 2021 Howard County cross country season, with team-by-team capsules and players to watch. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

For the second time in six months, Howard County will have a cross country season.

After a shortened spring 2021 season that was originally postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, harriers in the county are gearing up for another campaign.

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This past spring, Oakland Mills’ Ella Harris and Baidy Ba won the girls and boys Howard County championships, respectively. Both runners graduated in June, though, leaving open the top spots in the county. On the team side, Howard’s girls squad won its third straight county crown, while Centennial’s boys came out on top.

Howard is the heavy favorite to win the girls county championship once again, as the Lions have the five fastest returning runners in the county — Hannah Schwab, Nimrit Ahuja, Jasmine Wilson, Elizabeth Holcombe and Kiley Mann. The boys side is more open, as the top returning boys runners are Centennial’s Antonio Camacho-Bucks, Howard’s Joey Raudabaugh, Oakland Mills’ Ethan Aidam, Mt. Hebron’s Jacob Hauf and River Hill’s Bryce Handa.

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The biggest change this fall will be the classifications of Howard County schools, particularly Howard. One of the top Class 4A girls cross country schools in recent years, Howard is now in 3A in the East Region alongside eight other Howard County schools. Meanwhile, Hammond joins Glenelg and Oakland Mills in 2A West.

The regular season starts Saturday and the county championships are scheduled for Oct. 27 at Centennial High School. The regional meets are set for Nov. 4, and the MPSSAA championships will be Nov. 13.

Here’s a look at the girls and boys county teams entering the 2021 season:

GIRLS

Atholton

Coach: Earl Lauer

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Spring 2021 finish: Third

Top runners: Seniors Caroline Perret, Grace Rua and Chiara Sforza; junior Sophia Urdinola; freshman Gabrielle Shord.

Starting line: The Raiders are tasked with replacing one of the best harriers from last season in Aanchal Kasargod, who finished third at the county championship meet as a senior. Atholton brings back its No. 2 runner from this past spring in Sforza and adds a talented young runner in Shord.

Centennial

Centennial's Amaya Cunningham, pictured here during the 2021 MPSSAA Class 3A track and field championships, is one of the top returning cross country runners for the Eagles.
Centennial's Amaya Cunningham, pictured here during the 2021 MPSSAA Class 3A track and field championships, is one of the top returning cross country runners for the Eagles. (Photo courtesy of Woody Eaton)

Coach: Kevin McCoy

Spring 2021 finish: Second

Top runners: Seniors Amaya Cunningham, Sara Jurkovic and Madelyn Mielke; juniors Michelle Bank and Susan Kuhn.

Starting line: Three of the Eagles’ top five runners graduated after leading Centennial to a second-place finish at last season’s county championships. Cunningham and Mielke placed 14th and 15th, respectively, at counties and made second-team All-County.

Glenelg

Glenelg juniors Milana Gurvich and Sierra Rohmann run the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Glenelg juniors Milana Gurvich and Sierra Rohmann run the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Phil Johnson

Spring 2021 finish: Seventh

Top runners: Seniors Brooke Birckhead, Milana Gurvich, Kara Rivenbark and Kaila Spence; junior Sarah Jones.

Starting line: The Gladiators bring back the majority of their team from last season and add Spence, who played for Glenelg’s county-champion soccer team this past spring and has several accolades as a middle-distance track runner.

Hammond

Coach: Kim Williams

Spring 2021 finish: DNP

Top runners: Senior Amanda Nobil; junior McKenna Hunter; freshman Eve Pimental.

Starting line: After having only one varsity runner this past spring, Williams expects Nobil, Hunter and Pimental to lead the Golden Bears this fall.

Howard

Coach: Zack Dickerson

Spring 2021 finish: First

Top runners: Seniors Nimrit Ahuja, Elizabeth Holcombe, Hannah Schwab and Jasmine Wilson; junior Lola Sivley; sophomore Kiley Mann.

Starting line: The Lions won their third-straight county championship this past spring as the deepest team in the county. Dickerson returns six of the team’s top seven runners from last season, including Ahuja, the 2021 Girls Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, and Schwab, who was the fastest Lion at the cross country championships this past spring.

Long Reach

Coach: Mark Lam

Spring 2021 finish: 10th

Top runners: Seniors Sophia Blattau, Neisha Islam, Chloe Mentz and Brynn Saffer; freshman Ashleigh Baker.

Starting line: The Lightning return a lot of experience this season, as Blattau, Islam, Mentz and Saffer were all varsity runners this past spring. In addition to the senior leaders, freshman Ashleigh Baker is also expected to be one of the squad’s top five harriers.

Marriotts Ridge

Coach: Jason Conley

Spring 2021 finish: Sixth

Top runner: Senior Rachel Roberts.

Starting line: After a middle-of-the-pack finish at the county championships last season, the Mustangs bring back Roberts, who placed 20th at counties in 20:56.

Mt. Hebron

Coach: Gina Witcher

Spring 2021 finish: Ninth

Top runners: Senior Jasmine Ives and Kayla Nemirovsky; juniors Shreya Khurana, Gabby Teachey and Kasturi Vadantham; sophomore Gauri Nair.

Starting line: Vedantham was the top Vikings’ finisher at counties last season by placing 28th, and Witcher expects Teachey, who didn’t run this past spring, to be the team’s top harrier.

Oakland Mills

Coach: Brian Shadrick

Spring 2021 finish: Fourth

Top runners: Junior Annmarie Weaver; sophomores Lily Decker, Frankie Moore, Ashley Sanchez and Nitya Sharma.

Starting line: The Scorpions are losing their top runner from this past spring in spring 2021 Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year Ella Harris. But sophomore Frankie Moore is the sixth-fastest returning harrier in the county. As a freshman, Moore finished sixth at counties in 19:43.

Reservoir

Reservoir juniors Ava Robitaille and Caroline Rosenberry run the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Reservoir juniors Ava Robitaille and Caroline Rosenberry run the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Phil Rogers

Spring 2021 finish: Fifth

Top runners: Seniors Leilah Clark, Ava Robitaille and Caroline Rosenberry; junior Casey Moquin; sophomore Delaney Lortz; freshmen Kyrie Moquin and Halle Robitaille.

Starting line: Clark, Robitaille, Rosenberry and Casey Moquin — four of the Gators’ top five runners last season — return to the team this fall. Clark led the team by finishing 23rd at counties this past spring.

River Hill

Coach: Kevin Cannon

Spring 2021 finish: Eighth

Top runners: Senior Amaya Aranda and Chloe McGeehan; junior Elizabeth Fu; sophomores Naomi Ling and Aysegul Yildiz.

Starting line: McGeehan is the ninth-fastest returning runner in the county. As a junior last season, McGeehan placed 16th at counties, crossing the line in 20:10. Aside from Oakland Mills, the Hawks have the biggest departure in the county in Faith Meininger, who placed second at counties and graduated in June.

Wilde Lake

Wilde Lake freshman Eva Dimitrova run the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Wilde Lake freshman Eva Dimitrova run the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Darnerien McCants

Spring 2021 finish: DNP

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Top runners: Junior Anna Griffiths; sophomores Eva Dimitrova and Madison Shanks.

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Starting line: The Wildecats had only four varsity runners compete at counties this past spring. Wilde Lake returns Griffiths, Shanks and Dimitrova, who was the fastest Wildecat at counties last season with her 33rd-place finish.

Glenelg Country

Coach: Greg Koffel

Top runners: Seniors Katie Leavy and Joanie Morningstar.

Starting line: After participating in the IAAMs “open season” last fall, Koffel expects seniors Leavy and Morningstar to lead the Dragons this season.

BOYS

Atholton

Atholton sophomore Ethan Mulcahy runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Atholton sophomore Ethan Mulcahy runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Israel Carunungan/Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Neil Steen

Spring 2021 finish: Ninth

Top runners: Seniors Caleb Crawford, Vinay Kumar, Sam Martin, Noah McCormick and Zach Shord; junior Ethan Mulcahy.

Starting line: Mulcahy, who finished 16th at counties last season, and Shord, who crossed the line 22nd, both return for the Raiders.

Centennial

Centennial's Antonio Camacho-Bucks sprints toward the finish line to finish third in the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championship meet at Centennial High School on Saturday, April 10.
Centennial's Antonio Camacho-Bucks sprints toward the finish line to finish third in the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championship meet at Centennial High School on Saturday, April 10. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Rob Slopek

Spring 2021 finish: First

Top runners: Seniors Connor Brennan, Jeff Chang, Luke LasCasas and Alex White; junior Antonio Camacho-Bucks.

Starting line: Camacho-Bucks finished third at the county championships this past spring to lead the Eagles to the county crown. He’s the fastest boys runner returning, breaking the tape at counties in 15:31. LasCasas and White were also top-five runners for Centennial last year, but the Eagles have to replace graduated seniors Fernando Duraes and Jacob Cole, who finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at counties.

Glenelg

Coach: Lindsey Metzler

Spring 2021 finish: Eighth

Top runners: Seniors Timothy Cherry and Michael Sturtevant; freshman Bennett Walsh.

Starting line: Cherry is the Gladiators’ lone scoring runner returning from this past spring, as the other four harriers graduated. Cherry placed 33rd at counties last season, crossing the line in 17:29.

Hammond

Coach: James Ryun Anderson

Spring 2021 finish: 12th

Top runners: Seniors Ben Johnson and Joshua Speich; juniors Grant Bierce and Daniel Rodriguez; sophomore Sebastian Hurt.

Starting line: Speich was the Golden Bears’ top runner this past spring, placing 29th at counties.

Howard

Howard's Joseph Raudabaugh on the final stretch at the Howard County cross country championships on Saturday, April 10, 2021.
Howard's Joseph Raudabaugh on the final stretch at the Howard County cross country championships on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Megan Hart

Spring 2021 finish: Third

Top runners: Seniors Makilan Balasubramanian, Chris Mann, Joey Raudabaugh and Nick Yankle; junior Ryan O’Byrne.

Starting line: Raudabaugh placed fourth at the county championships this past spring, crossing the line in 15:36. However, Howard has to replace the other four of its top five runners from last season due to graduation.

Long Reach

Long Reach sophomore Christian Brower runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Long Reach sophomore Christian Brower runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Israel Carunungan/Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Kevin Lawrence

Spring 2021 finish: Sixth

Top runners: Senior Alejandro Cabrera; junior Christian Brower; sophomore Evan Quinn.

Starting line: Long Reach returns three of its top four harriers from this past spring, but the Lightning have to replace Cameron Hindle, who won silver at counties as a senior. Cabrera and Brower placed 20th and 21st, respectively, at counties last season.

Marriotts Ridge

Coach: Thomas Brandel

Spring 2021 finish: Fifth

Top runners: Senior Pranav Rajan; juniors Frank Hayden and Joseph Zoller; sophomore Preston Hong and Evan Tian.

Starting line: Marriotts Ridge is tasked with replacing its four top runners from this past spring. Zoller is the fastest returning runner for the Mustangs this fall.

Mt. Hebron

Mt. Hebron junior runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Mt. Hebron junior runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Israel Carunungan/Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Jordan Sterner

Spring 2021 finish: Second

Top runners: Seniors Alexander Barton, Jacob Hauf and Braedon Moyer; junior Paul Carter and Wyatt Grabelle.

Starting line: After a second-place finish at the county championships last season, the Vikings are in good shape to be one of the top teams in the county again. Hauf, who is the fourth-fastest returning runner in the county, could replace William Jones, who was the Vikings’ top runner before he graduated in June. Barton and Moyer were also top-20 finishers at counties.

Oakland Mills

Oakland Mills sophomore Ethan Aidam runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Oakland Mills sophomore Ethan Aidam runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Israel Carunungan/Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Chris Brewington

Spring 2021 finish: Seventh

Top runners: Seniors Donovan Lawson and Deremy Vicente; junior Ethan Aidam; sophomores Folu Longe and Ja White.

Starting line: The Scorpions are faced with replacing the top runner in the county from this past spring in spring 2021 Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year Baidy Ba. Aidam is the third-fastest returning harrier in the county. As a sophomore, Aidam finished ninth at counties in 16:10.

Reservoir

Reservoir junior William Chapman runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Reservoir junior William Chapman runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Phil Rogers

Spring 2021 finish: 10th

Top runners: Seniors Arjun Banerjee, Will Chapman, Connor Puls and Ryan Thibaudeau; sophomore Kidus Zeleke.

Starting line: Chapman, Banerjee, Zeleke and Thibaudeau — four of the Gators’ top five runners last season — return to the team this fall. Zeleke was the fourth-fastest freshman in the county this past spring.

River Hill

River Hill junior Bryce Handa runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
River Hill junior Bryce Handa runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Israel Carunungan/Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Paul Hugus

Spring 2021 finish: Fourth

Top runners: Seniors Bryce Handa, Rob King and Yash Porwal; sophomore Daniel Wang; freshman Quin Ballou.

Starting line: The Hawks return their top two runners in Handa and King, who placed 13th and 25th, respectively, at the county championships this past spring.

Wilde Lake

Wilde Lake freshman Henry Hopper runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships.
Wilde Lake freshman Henry Hopper runs the final stretch at the spring 2021 Howard County cross country championships. (Photo courtesy of Israel Carunungan)

Coach: Jay McMillan

Spring 2021 finish: 11th

Top runners: Junior Chris Withee; sophomores Myles Brown, Henry Hopper, Sean Moore and Noah Vernon.

Starting line: The Wildecats return the best freshman in the county from last season in Hopper, who placed 28th at the county championships.

Glenelg Country

Coach: Brian Bonn

Top runners: Seniors Will Mantzaris, Josef Marschall and Jack Roth; junior Zach Gruzs.

Starting line: Bonn has a group of senior runners in Mantzaris, Marschall and Roth who will lead the Dragons this fall.

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