Baltimore County's cross country programs continue to grow, but the balance of power continues to be in the same schools, and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon.
On the boys side, it looks like Dulaney may be ready to unseat Perry Hall as the county champion this year. The Lions return most of their team from last year, include their top three in Aaron Reuwer, Billy Duffy and Will Knox. Duffy was also a member of The Sun's all-city/county team. The 4A North regional champions will also benefit from a solid JV program from last year.
Perry Hall will have a well-rounded team, but the Gators will miss Andy Hart, the Baltimore County boys champion last year, who graduated. The Gators return seniors Tim Dietz and Greg Monnier, who will battle it out for the No. 1 position. New coach Bill Robertson says the team is deep, so don't expect to see Perry Hall far from the top.
A surprise team could be Eastern Tech. The Mavericks return their top runner in junior Ryan Cartwright, and their No. 2 in junior Ken Bielecki. Eastern Tech also has some depth, with a large group battling for the Nos. 3-7 spots.
Hereford returns a young team, with juniors Tim Cross and Matt Boegner leading the way for surprising freshman Kyle Smith.
Loch Raven returns all-city/county runner Paul Hugus, now a junior, so the Raiders could be dark horses.
Woodlawn's Alex Rice, a third-place finisher at last year's County Championships, and another member of the all-city/county team, returns for his senior year.
In the MIAA, Calvert Hall, the defending A conference champion, lost quite a bit, but also returns a good group.
The Cardinals will be led by junior Frank Glover. He will be pushed by Brian Nasuda, a junior, and Rob Peach, a senior.
This year's team will be mostly underclassmen, and the Cardinals could have their hands full in the tough A Conference.
Loyola returns its top two runners in seniors Matt Schelberg, an all-city/county performer last year, and Eugene McAuliffe.
Five of the top seven runners return at McDonogh, where the Eagles should start to see dividends in their quest to advance in the A Conference. The team will be led by P.J. Allen, a senior, and juniors Josh Perry and Bobby Singleton.
The number of runners at St. Paul's is way down this year, but the Crusaders return sophomore Pete Chilimindris and junior Nick VanSant.
In the B conference, Boys' Latin returns three of its top five, and juniors Henry Blue and Ben Wells will compete for the No. 1 position.
As far as the girls go, Dulaney is the defending county champion, and the Lions appear to be widening their lead over the rest of the county. The Lions return Tenke Zoltani, The Sun's All-Metro Runner of the Year last season. A seven-time state champion (in track and cross county), Zoltani will have a good supporting cast featuring Chrissy Dachielle and Chris Myers. Myers, another all-city/county team member, was the top runner at Parkville last year and fourth in the county meet.
Perry Hall returns its entire starting five, and will be led by senior Laura Brazil, an all-city/county team member last year. Heather Unfried and Megan Sohasky, both seniors, will also have to shoulder a lot of the burden if the Gators are to catch Dulaney.
Another team that may make a run at the county crown is Catonsville, which finished third at the county meet last year. The Comets will be led by senior Trisha O'Connell, who was also an All-Metro performer last season. The Comets are young this season but will be experienced.
Towson, with top runner Anastasia Mukhina, a junior, could also be a factor.
Franklin, with Margo Becker, a senior and Kelly McKay, a sophomore, will also be competitive.
In the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, Notre Dame Prep will have a deep team this year, led by senior Sarah Arbaugh and sophomore Katie McNabb.
Mount de Sales will be improved, and will return most of its strength. Senior Jaime Malarkey and sophomore Megan Adams are back from a team that finished fourth in the A conference.
McDonogh will be young, and the Eagles will rely on returnees Lindsay Winthrop, a junior, and Kate Smalkin, a sophomore, for leadership.
In the B conference, Park returns a group of veterans and novices' that will be led by seniors Amy Warren, Rebecca Sandler, and Meg Rorrison.