Seven Breakout Girls Runners to Watch in 2019

As we enter the thick of the 2019 cross country season, we spotlight seven boys (non-freshmen) who have either shown major improvements from last fall or taken to the cross country course for the first time, and the impact they may have going forward this fall.

Nimrit Ahuja (Sophomore, Howard)

Photo by John Roemer

A theme for this fall seems to be sophomore runners who excelled on the track as freshmen and took to the course for the first time. Ahuja is no exception, and her emergence has helped vault the Howard girls into the top ranking in the state. Ahuja ran 2:20 in the 800 as a freshman, qualifying for the state meet last May, and has shown no trouble adjusting to the longer distance in cross country. She finished sixth at the Seahawk Invitational (her 18:46 time still ranks ninth in the state three mile rankings) and 11th in the elite race at Bull Run.

Francesca Cetta (Senior, Holton-Arms)

Photo by Mary Ann Magnant

A longtime track standout for Holton-Arms, Cetta took it up a notch last spring, running 2:16/5:00/11:27 and sweeping ISL titles in all three events. She clocked her 5:00 personal best 1600 at the DMV Meet of Champions, and it ranked as the third-fastest time in the state. For the first time Cetta came out to run cross country this fall for Holton-Arms and didn't disappoint in her first race. She finished second in a tight battle with St. Johns' Meredith Gotzman, running 19:09 on Landon's course (which easily ranks as the top Maryland girls performance on Landon's campus in our database). Cetta will likely be chasing down an ISL title this fall and could be in the running for a private school state title in November.

Chloe McGeehan (Sophomore, River Hill)

Photo by John Roemer

River Hill has essentially run the same meet schedule as they did last year, making year-to-year comparisons fairly straightforward.

- Seahawk Invitational: 21:56 (66th) to 19:15 (17th)

- Howard County Invitational: 22:37 (41st) to 19:45 (8th)

- Bull Run Invitational: 23:08 (75th in elite race) to 20:11 (4th in large school race)

The River Hill girls could still be in the hunt for a 3A East title this year, thanks in large part to McGeehan's freshman-to-sophomore improvement.

Reese Miller (Senior, Hereford)

Photo by John Roemer

Miller has stepped up for a Hereford team that lost three of their top four runners from the team that won its fourth straight state title in 2018. The Bulls still face an uphill task in taking down the top two teams from 3A states last year in Northern and Bel Air, but Miller and freshman Meghan Benda have significantly improved this squad so far. Miller finished fifth at Barnhart (after finishing 74th there last year) and 36th in the elite race at Bull Run, helping Hereford finish seventh. The Bulls finished ahead of county rivals Towson and Dulaney, and only about 30 points behind Bel Air (fifth) and Northern (sixth).

Kristen Prince (Sophomore, Calvert)

Photo by Brandon Miles

Prince showcased her potential in May when she finished third at the 2A state meet in the 3200, clocking a personal-best time of 11:30 (which ranked fourth among freshmen). She made an immediate impact in her first cross country race at the Seahawk Invitational where she placed 11th, and her 19:05 performance currently also ranks fourth among sophomores. Prince also finished in the top 25 at the Oatlands Invitational on September 14. While the SMAC still goes through Northern's Oakley Olson, Prince joins a growing group of contenders that could make for one of the deepest fields the conference has seen.

Nia Quinn (Sophomore, Chesapeake-AA)

Photo by Keeley Olson

Quinn, like many of the other runners on this list, has shown marked improvement on the same courses she ran last year as a freshman. She shaved over three minutes off her time at the Seahawk Invitational and over 60 seconds at Bull Run, where she placed 14th in the medium school race. Quinn's biggest race, however, probably came at the Hood College Invitational on September 14. There, she finished sixth with a huge 5K personal best of 20:17 (currently the 32nd-fastest time in the state, and the ninth-fastest among 3A competitors).

Niya Torres (Senior, Arundel)

Photo by Matthew Hazdic

The highest Torres finished in a race as a junior was seventh at the Arundel Invitational. As a senior, she has yet to finish lower than fifth in any invitational. She picked up her first big win at the Howard County Invitational on September 14, taking down a field that included county and 4A rivals Mollie Fenn and Anna Janke. Torres also ran 19:27 at Bull Run to win the large school race - the fifth-fastest time of the day. Almost overnight she has emerged as a contender not only for the county title, but potentially a 4A state title as well.