Hereford's Bull Run Invitational has become one of the top high school cross country events on the East Coast, and this year's race, on Saturday, is a must for all teams harboring hopes for a state championship.
Just a dozen runners broke 17 minutes last season over the dip, the cornfield, the maze and up that awful hill -- the more memorable sections of the rugged course.
Only one girls team and only one boys team out of the area's top 10 for both genders will miss Saturday's race.
"Last year's races had 82 teams, but I had 125 requests for entry this time around," said athletic director Mike Kalisz, whose event includes six varsity races: seeded boys, seeded girls, and big- and small-school races for both.
The boys competitions will feature defending Class 4A state champ Westminster, 3A champ South Carroll, 2A champ River Hill and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference power Mount St. Joseph.
Boys squads include Severna Park, C. Milton Wright, Loyola, Perry Hall, Arundel, Dulaney and Broadneck.
Girls teams include Severna Park, Westminster, Dulaney, C. Milton Wright and Broadneck. Also entered are Notre Dame Prep, River Hill, Perry Hall, Mount de Sales and Mount Hebron.
Knights on the rise
City's girls soccer team has scored a couple wins over Baltimore league teams it hasn't beaten in at least three years.
The Knights defeated Patterson, 4-0, and then edged Poly, 2-1. New coach Lisa Katz said City hadn't beaten Patterson in four years and Poly in three.
After graduating only two seniors, returning goalkeeper Rosie Hicks, and adding two strong freshmen, Katz said, the Knights were ready to make their move.
"The girls were not used to winning," said Katz, a Knights assistant last year. "They were so excited after they beat Patterson. They've played them twice a year every year, and the juniors had never beaten them. They're finally working as a team, and they finally see themselves as winners."
The Knights have shown a balanced offense with five girls scoring in the Patterson and Poly games: Jessica Long had a goal in each win, and Courtney Eley, Amber Bronoski, Johanna Doble and Erica Branch each had one. Carmen Brown totaled three assists, and Hicks made eight saves.
Sweeper Erin Cunningham, stopper Tiffany Wright and fullbacks Elise Odell and Brown gave up just one goal.
The Knights still have one objective -- to beat defending city champ Western. Yesterday, the Doves handed the Knights (2-2) their first city league loss, 5-1, despite 16 saves by Hicks. The Knights will get another chance at the Doves later in the season.
Maryvale just misses
Maryvale sophomore goalie Megan Huether made 21 saves Tuesday as the Lions rallied from a 2-0 soccer deficit against No. 4-ranked Notre Dame Prep to tie before falling, 3-2.
Huether kept the Lions in contention in the second half of a game played in rain, diving or leaping to tip away seven shots. She also came out to smother a couple NDP through-balls, holding on despite sliding and spinning through the mud and wet grass.
While the game was tied at 2, the Lions (1-1) missed a penalty kick, and Kelly Devlin, who scored both Lions goals, hit the crossbar twice. However, NDP's Jessica Leonard netted the game-winner with 12 minutes left.
The Pirates (3-0) played without their starting goalkeeper, Lauren Stone, the All-Baltimore City/County keeper last year as a freshman. Stone was ill, so Beth Hamilton filled in admirably, making 12 saves. Megan Schwartz and Amy Alecci scored NDP's first-half goals.
Dulaney's Tenke Zoltani, the state Class 4A mile and 2-mile champion, is competing again for the Lions, so the beat goes on.
Last Saturday at the Barnhart Invitational on her home course, the sophomore left the girls field a minute behind while prevailing in 18: 43.
Zoltani considered playing soccer this fall, but her running success has been too strong not to make it a priority.
Meanwhile, Dulaney's boys ran well as a unit and, like the girls, took the team title. Lions boys finished 6-7-8-10-11-12, the first five (scorers) running within 16 seconds of each other between 17: 18 and 17: 34.