Scouting Report: Severna Park

The Severna Park boys has been consistently of the state's premier cross country programs over the last decade under the guidance of head coach Josh Alcombright. Now is time for the Severna Park girls to join them in similar regard as Alcombright takes over the program this fall for the first time after transitioning into the role working with the female distance runners during the track season. Both teams will be in the hunt for the 4A state title this fall looking to knock off defending champs Dulaney boys (2-time) and Walter Johnson girls (4-time).

Boys Top 7 Returnees (Full Team Scores Rankings)

1Severna Park (MD)81
1) Hugh O'Connor16:03.0010
2) Garrison Clark16:08.2013
3) Jonah Lane16:13.4016
4) Christian Isham16:19.0018
5) Samuel Martin16:26.0024
Average Time: 16:13.92 Total Time: 1:21:09.60 1-5 Split: 23.00
6) Nathan Vandemeulebroecke16:35.0034
7) Alexander Chaisson16:38.1040

Girls Top 7 Returnees (Full Team Scores Rankings)

2Severna Park (MD)219
1) Kamryn Eveleth18:59.207
2) Sarah Siska19:37.1031
3) Sophia Dutton20:04.1054
4) Catie Cambon20:07.6058
5) Lindsey Brooks20:15.6069
Average Time: 19:48.72 Total Time: 1:39:03.60 1-5 Split: 1:16.40
6) Chloe Salkeld20:27.5087
7) Riley Leeds20:35.30103

Q&A Interview with Coach Alcombright (Severna Park)

1. How many years have you been coaching high school cross country (and at your current school)?
​This will be my 18th year coaching Cross Country and it will be my 12th year at Severna Park Coaching the boys and my 1st year also coaching the girls.

2. What do you attribute as the main reasons for the success of your program?
The athletes believe in the system that we have developed and understand that success at distance running takes time and can sometimes be a slow process. This allows our athletes to progress from, not only week to week, but from year to year and leads to healthy competition within the team to "climb up the ranks" until it is there time to shine...whether that means being on the A squad or building over 4 years to finally breaking 19:00. Success breeds success, from top to bottom! 

All of that and of course Chocolate Milk too!

3. What would be the best way to describe your style and philosophy of coaching and working with high school runners?
I think I talked about a bit of that above in that we do our best to develop the athletes from year to year and and progress them over the long haul. Within our program no matter how talented or "fast" a freshman may be they are not going to be doing the same in terms of volume then someone that has been on the team even 2, 3 or 4 years. They may, and usually will, run with those that are the same speed as them but they wouldn't do as much volume. 

We base everything we do off of an athletes training age.

4. What are your core beliefs in your training plan and workouts for your cross country squads?
Again, progression from year to year is the key concept. In terms of our actual training we believe that the foundation of our program and it's success is built around our long run. We do them every Mondayand most of them are done with what we call our "3/1" philosophy.  In that you take the long run and break it into 1/4's with the first 3/4's of the run (the 3) being done at your normal long run pace. Then the last 1/4 (the 1) is done whereas the kids will start the "squeeze the trigger" and progress down to where they are doing the last mile or so of the run at or below their tempo pace. For us this is the staple workout each week for our program and is what we build the rest of the week around. 

Our other staple workouts revolve around strenght. Short rest; on a cycle; that type of stuff and we love to do tempo work as our secondary type of workout most weeks.

5. How many runners do you return from your top 7 from a year ago?

We have 6 of 7 returning from last year (one returning senior is not running) on the boys side.

On the girls side all 7 return that ran at the state meet last year.

6. Who is your projected top 7 heading into the cross country season?

Boys- Hugh O'Connor, Garrison Clark, Jonah Lane, Jack Finneran, Sean Engelfried and then there are about 6-8 other guys that were within :07 seconds at our 3200 time trial the other day led by Nick Plummer and sophomore Nick Engelman

Girls- Kamryn Eveleth, Catie Cambon, Sophia Zell, Sophia Dutton, these girls were all within :05 of each other at recent time trial Izzy Kintzley, Cameron Zaniker, Grace Cambon, Brenna Mullaney, Riley Leeds and Ashley Sibenhaar

7. Who are your team captains or leaders and what stands out about them as examples for the rest of their teammates?
Boys- Jonah Lane, Hugh O'Connor, Matt Bateman and Hunter Simon
Girls- Catie Cambon, Izzy Kintzley and Jill Parisi

​We like our leaders to be well represented up and down the line and show leadership by working hard (on and off the course), showing exemplar sportsmanship and doing things the right way all the time, not just when it is public, convienent or easy.

8. Who have you been most impressed or surprised with their improvement and/or fitness from their summer training?

It is very apparent that many of the boys and girls have done the base work asked of them over the summer to set themselves up for a season in which we can reach our lofty goals. Summer training is the NUMBER ONE factor for success in this sport and as a program the kids have really bought in to that concept and put the work in June-September that will make them what they want to be in November.

Hugh O'Connor's fitness level and strength right now is one that stands out on the boys side and several of our sophomore girls have seemed to buy into the program from the Spring and are looking really good...Grace Cambon, Sophia Zell, Cameron Zaniker, Brenna Mullaney and Ashley Sibenhaar lead that group. But overall we are VERY impressed with the work that is apparent the boys and girls put in over the summer and I could name 20-30 more kids that are poised to have outstanding success this season. It's exciting!

9. Any impactful freshmen or transfers to join the team this season?

On the boys side we have several solid looking freshman lead Jake Gelfand (the brother of a former standout guy on the 2015 State Championship team).

On the girls side we look to have the potential for 2-3 freshman to have an impact on the Varsity as the season progresses. Amalia Hagerty, Caroline Gage, Abigail Weist and Sofia Villagomez lead that group.

10. What are the top invitational meets that your team will be attending this season?

​Our top 7 will be competing at Seahawk, Barnhart, Spike Shoe, Glory Days and Frank Keyser (we were slated to go to Carlisle but are unable to compete due to the Jewish Holiday). We are also excited to challenge our B team (and the rest move up too) as they will compete in the Varsity races at Howard County and White Clay Creek.

11. What will be the biggest obstacle or challenge facing your team this season?

​For the boys it will be focusing on building a "slow burn" as the season goes and not putting ourselves in a position where we are not at our best when it counts the most. I feel that we did not do a good job at accomplishing that last year and it cost us during the championship season. 

For the girls it will be adjusting to the new training and learning what works best to get them to reach the goals we have set for the team.

12. What will be the biggest reason why your team is successful this season?

For the girls I can say with certainty that it will come down to having patience and a trust in their training and a belief that they can accomplish things they may have thought not possible. If they can do those things this season I think they are going to surprise a lot of people...most importantly, themselves!

For the boys it will come down to whether or not we truly learned from the mistakes we made at the end of last season and their HUNGER to be the best team in Maryland. If we do a good job correcting those mistakes and staying focused and committed (daily) to the end game, it will be a memorable season we believe.

13. What is a favorite annual or common pre-season workout or run for your team?

​We don't get too fancy with our Preseason workouts and we like to keep them all strength based. A staple workout we do very early on is 550 meter hill loop where 350 meters of it is "on" and the rest is 200 meter jog back to the start line. The trail loop consists of 2 very steep uphills with a sharp downhill and some turns. This is a great workout to see where people are at and it's one we like to do to "get back into" the swing of XC.

14. What is a favorite annual or common mid-season workout for your team?​

Mile repeats

15. What is a favorite annual or common championship season or end-of-season workout for your team?
A few weeks out from our championship meets we start to do some faster 400's on a cycle, every 2:30or so where they are still getting limited rest but the legs are turning over much faster

16. What are your top 3 goals for this year's squad?

-Progress and grow as the season goes
-​Compete for County, region and state titles
-Build on the tradition and leave your link in the chain of SPXC