Photo by Debbi Persinger
The 2016 cross country season saw both familiar faces (Rohann Asfaw, Will Merritt) and new ones (Taylor Baranoski, Ryan Lockett) rise to the top of the Maryland state rankings. Relive some of the top races of the year and then vote for the best one below!
The season kicked off with a bit of an upset at the Brunswick Invitational on the first weekend of September. Linganore's Micah Hewitson set a blistering pace through the first mile, but Westlake junior Jay Hall slowly and steadily closed the gap throughout the race and caught Hewitson in the final mile. It was a statement win for Hall, immediately confirming his status as a 2A state contender (he would go on to finish fourth). Hewitson and his teammate, Michael Belmaggio, finished in second and third place.
The next weekend saw maybe the deepest invitational field in the state this season at the Howard County Invitational. A large lead pack whittled down to just three runners - Joey Navarro, Hunter Petrik and Rahul Reddy - in the final mile. It was a late charge by Navarro that sealed the win, just missing the 16 minute mark on the difficult three mile course. Overall the race featured a staggering 14 runners who finished in the top 10 at their respective state championships, plus many of the top private school runners in the state.
One of the fastest invitationals in the state this past season was the morning varsity race at the Spiked Shoe Invitational. Bel Air's Kieran McDermott led from the start to the finish, turning in an impressive 15:44.70 personal best. A total of nine boys ran under 16:30, and 86 in total ran under 18:00.
The best race at the Maryland State Championships was the showdown in the 3A boys division. Four runners - Ryan Lockett, Rahul Reddy, Micah Hewitson and Andrew Lent - stuck with each other for the first couple miles, but it was Lockett who eventually broke away in the final half mile to seal his win. Reddy kept it close, nearly surging into the lead going up "The Dip" for the final time, but Lockett simply wouldn't be beat. Lockett was the only non-senior state champion on the boys side and his time of 16:00 was second only to Smithsburg's Will Merritt.