The big question as the county cross country championship approaches is whether there will be an upset in the team competition.

The Oakland Mills boys have won six straight county championships. The Atholton girls have won five straight.

Oakland Mills will be a prohibitive favorite to continue its stranglehold on the boys title tomorrow when the championship races are held at Howard Community College.

But Atholton faces a real challenge from Glenelg, with Centennial also expected to make a strong showing in the girls race.

In the individual events, Pat Rodrigues of Centennial shoots for his third straight county title, and Centennial's Amanda Cox will try to make it two straight.

Rodrigues, third-place finisher Saturday at the highly competitive Georgetown Prep Invitational, should beat Joe Drissel of Oakland Mills, the likely runner-up.

But Cox faces loads of competition, especially from Kristina Adams of Glenelg and Tara Getschman of Atholton.

Other girls with shots at winning include Oakland Mills' super freshman Alycia Brown, Atholton's Laurie Atherholt, Glenelg's Katie Terry and Tina Rankin and Centennial's Mandy Walburn.

The Oakland Mills boys team is coming off the most impressive outing ever turned in by a county cross country team.

The Scorpions finished second by a point last Saturday in the seeded section of the prestigious 20th Annual Cross Country Classic at Georgetown Prep in Rockville, which features the best teams from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Robinson High of Fairfax, Va., ranked 21st in the nation by "The Harrier" magazine, was the team that beat Oakland Mills, which hasn't lost to a Maryland team in seven years and has won six straight state titles.

The Scorpions ran as a pack, with only 54 seconds separating their top runner from their seventh runner in the 5,000-meter event.

Drissel, their top runner, turned in a fine time of 16 minutes, 29 seconds. The other runners included Brian Lopez, Matt Bond, Bill Dye, Ken Plasse, Paul Schoeny and Brandon Hart. All are seniors.

Coach Steve Carnahan has called this team the best he's ever coached.

Besides the Oakland Mills seven and Rodrigues, other top runners in the boys race tomorrow are expected to be Gerard Hogan of Glenelg, Brian Townsend of Atholton and Andrew Younkin of Centennial.

But the highlight of the day promises to be the girls race, which begins at 4 p.m.

Atholton is the defending state Class 2A champion, and is expected to challenge for that title again. But earlier this season, Glenelg upset the Raiders at the Westminster Invitational.

That created a definite two-team race in the 2A Class.

"We probably have the two best girls teams of any classification in the Baltimore metro area," Atholton coach Earl Lauer said. "And Centennial has been coming on strong lately."

Cox, a junior, is the defending state Class 3A champ, who won the county title in an exciting duel with Atherholt last year.

Atherholt is a senior who helped her team to a first-place finish Saturday at Georgetown Prep in the unseeded, small schools division.

Other top Atholton runners are senior Vonda Jones, who was eighth in the county last year, and junior Anna doCouto who was sixth.

Getschman, seventh in the county last year, has improved tremendously and beat Cox at Georgetown.

Glenelg has kept a low profile, so far, avoiding most of the big invitationals and trying not to burn out its runners.

Adams, Terry and Rankin are all seniors competing for their fourth year.

Last year Glenelg finished second in the county, region and state.

The Gladiators are determined to pick up a championship this year.

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