The projected Harford County leaders in girls cross country represent opposite ends of the spectrum for a sport that encourages individual participation, yet at the same time builds a team concept.
Christy Moon, the defending county individual champion, is a one-girl team for coach Donna Lewis at Aberdeen, while the defending team champion at the county and regional levels, C. Milton Wright, has a squad of 33.
A year ago, Moon followed her county title with a third in the regional and a 16th in the state meet, and was named a Co-Runner of the Year for the county. Last spring, she won the county 1,600 and 3,200 meters on the track, and an off-season program has improved her speed and strength.
Sophomore Jen Englehart, who is seen as one of the chief challengers to Moon's title, tops a talented corps of runners at C. Milton Wright. Last fall, she dropped her time in every race, with a sixth in the county and a fifth in her region races, and earned All-County recognition.
Juniors Amy Altmann and Erin Bralich (All-County picks last year) are followed by two newcomers, senior Cindy Meyer and junior Michelle Edberg, who ran at Glenelg last year. Also in the chase for places are seniors Jaime Cockerham and Cynthia Padilla.
As a sophomore, Altmann was fifth in the county and fourth in her region, and now coach Barbara Johnson, believes that such are the skills of her top runners that they might well take turns beating each other -- as well as most of the opposition.
Fallston and Bel Air are seen as the closest pursuers to the Mustangs.
Fallston, coached by Carol O'Donnell, returns two seniors Laurie Cicero and Kelly Greer, each a second-team All-County choice last year, plus junior Candy Credito and sophomore Shalini Ayyagari. The Cougars, second in the county meet to C. Milton Wright the last two years after having won the two previous seasons, also have a lot of newcomers, including Erin Chlumsky, a highly regarded freshman.
Bel Air has senior Melissa Chiasson, backed by a solid group of experienced juniors that includes Michelle Apland, who appears ready to challenge Moon and Englehart.
This program has a growing tradition of training in the off-season, and the candidates, about a dozen, are all much better than a year ago, said coach Alan Dean.
There are four junior veterans at John Carroll, with Katie Lannon, ninth in the county last year when she was All-County, seen as No. 1. However, Carrie Dannenfelser was the team's leading runner in a meet at Aberdeen last Monday, and Annie Donnelly and Jennifer Williams also are running well.
Coach Bernie Mullin sees his fifth runner as possibly coming from one of two seniors out for the first time, Jodie Manning and Kelly Barnes.
Junior Erin Fitzgerald is in her third year of running for Harford Tech, and from two years ago, when she was the only girl, the program, coached by her mother, Becky Fitzgerald, has progressed to the point where there is a team of five.
Erin, fourth in her regional and 20th in the state en route to an
All-County berth, will have four freshmen, none of them with a running background, for company. Nicia McAllister and Wendi Vlachos currently are running well, followed by Christy McKinnon and Jennifer Foss.
At Joppatowne, first-year coach Cindy Ordes has a relatively inexperienced squad of five -- sophomores Christine Torres, Jessica Dehne and Tabatha Wick, and freshmen Ann Czisny and Angie Wick.
A year ago, Edgewood coach John Low had three runners, but all have moved away. He again has three, all of whom are new to the sport -- juniors Laura Bourque, Heather Heaney and Laura Randers-Pherson.
This is the first time in several years Havre de Grace has had a team, and coach Scott Rundle has four underclassmen who are running for the first time -- Sally Anderson, Tiffany Miller, Alison Pate, and Erin Thompson.
At North Harford, coach Dave Starnes has an entirely new group of runners, all freshmen and sophomores, and he reports several have shown good potential.