Bel Air senior Caleb Zylka ran two separate Maryland #5 performances in the span of five days last week. (Photo by Howard Anderson)
Who was the top boys runner of the fifth week of the 2019 cross country season? Vote below!
Caleb Zylka went working overtime this past week, turning in two strong performances. He kicked off the month of October by defending his UCBAC Chesapeake division title, running a season-best 15:32 three-mile performance that currently ranks fifth in the state. He then came back on Saturday and shaved over 45 seconds off his 5K personal best at the Paul Short Invitational up in Pennsylvania. It was a 43-second improvement from his performance at Lehigh last fall, and also the fifth-fastest 5K time in Maryland so far.
While Zylka was winning his second straight UCBAC division title on Tuesday, Elkton senior Tyler Vega captured his first at the Susquehanna divisional meet. It was his second straight victory and one that sets him up as a potential runner to watch at the Cecil County meet next week. Vega's 17:19 season best in the three mile ranks 33rd in 2A.
Two runners set huge personal bests on what was easily the fastest day of the season. First, South River senior Sam Keeny ran 15:07 to finish seventh in a loaded field at the Great American XC Festival in Cary, NC. Only Dalton Hengst and Garrison Clark have run faster at the WakeMed Soccer Complex this decade, and Keeny also beat Garrett Suhr - who will be one of his top competitors at the 4A state meet - by nine seconds.
Meanwhile, Spalding's Henry Hardart is a cross country newcomer, but that doesn't mean he will shy away from the lead. On Saturday he picked up the first win of his cross country career at the Westminster Invitational, setting a new 5K personal best (16:03) in the process. A 1:55/4:18 runner on the track last spring as a junior, Hardart is emerging as Owen Johnson's top threat at the MIAA Championships later this fall.
Finally, Smithsburg freshman Cameron Rejonis enjoyed a breakout performance on his home course at the Don Stoner Invitational. A week after winning the JV race at the Wildcat Invitational, Rejonis finished 12th in the varsity field. His 17:40 three mile time ranks sixth among freshmen this season, even though Saturday's race was technically 3.04 miles. His emergence could help shape the 1A team race this season.