3A East Regional Preview by Derek Oppenheim

Photo by Craig Amoss

The 3A East MPSSAA region will look to have some fierce competition on the Centennial High School course, which is the site of the Howard County Invite and championships. 3A East is essentially just made up of Howard County schools, excluding Howard, Glenelg, and Oakland Mills, and with the addition of Westminster and Manchester Valley. All things considered, there may very well still be surprise results at this meet due to the importance of this meet which will determine which teams and individuals will move on to compete at the 3A state meet.


Marriotts Ridge's Grayson Max Crockett will be one of the top boys in the chase pack behind Anish Nanjappa at the 3A East regional meet. (Photo by Craig Amoss)

Coming in as the second ranked team in Maryland, River Hill - led by Anish Nanjappa and Josh Galindo - are clear favorites to win on Thursday, with no realistically close competition. Anish will likely put together another dominant performance like he has all season.

Next up, the reigning 3A team champions from Centennial have re-emerged as a top team behind Jacob Cole, who ran a third-place time of 15:40 last week returning from injury at the county championships. With last week's runner-up, Baidy Ba, and the Oakland Mills boys competing at 2A West, Cole will look to secure a second place finish for the Eagles. The rest of their scorers finished with a relatively small spread last week.

Since last week's third place team, Howard, will be racing at 4A East, Mount Hebron (even in the absence of junior Will Jones) is primed to take third place, led by sophomore Jacob Hauf who ran 16:40 on Wednesday.

Two teams that could give Mount Hebron some competition on Thursday are Reservoir and Marriotts Ridge, who finished one point apart at the county meet, with the Gators barely edging out the Mustangs after both of their displacers had outkicked the Mustangs' fifth scorer. The Gators did not have any top 15 finishers but did have a 30 second spread between their scorers. In Marriotts Ridge's favor, you can attribute a potential top three spot in the team standings to their top two runners, Grayson Max Crockett and Michael Wade. With a massive breakout performance from Brian Lau, the Mustangs may be able to use momentum to get even better finishes from their fourth and fifth runners. If they can decrease their 1-5 split, look to them as a strong competitor on Thursday. Atholton is the last team who is projected to go under 150 points on Wednesday, which could result in a potential states berth. The other teams: Hammond, Long Reach, Westminster, and Manchester Valley will need outstanding overall performances to qualify for the state meet.


On the girls' side, the absence of Howard, who scored just 17 points at Howard County Championships will allow different girls teams to fight for the title.

The Centennial, fresh off a second-place finish at the county meet, are led by Sara Jurkovic and Michelle Weaver. The Eagles display the value of pack running perfectly, as their first and second runners together and their 3-5 runners all ran together, able to push each other to the line. All five of their scorers are projected to be in the top 25 according to last week's results. Their overall pack time of 29 seconds was the only girls pack time under one minute, which is a good reason as to why they are one of the strongest teams coming into the 3a East Regional Championship.

The Westminster girls may be the only non-Howard County with a solid chance at placing high enough to appear at the state meet, led by Audrey Taylor and Hannah Toth. This team seems to follow a similar pattern of closely-knit packs that push each other to faster times.

River Hill and Atholton were the only teams with top ten finishers in the county meet, as Howard claimed seven of the top ten spots. River Hill, with two top ten finishers could be the closest competition for Centennial. Their top three are strong enough to all finish in the top ten, but they will need outstanding performances to close their pack time of two minutes and thirty-eight seconds if their team wants a good shot at the regional title. After them, Atholton will hope to finish in the top three behind one of the fastest girls in the region, Aanchal Kasargod, who was the top runner not from Howard on Wednesday.

The Reservoir girls could also be in for a big improvement if they get back to their pack-running ways from earlier in the season. The Gators did not follow their usual agenda of a strong pack, as their usual 1-5 spread is below 30 seconds. If more of their runners are able to stick with their #1, Caroline Rosenberry (who is one to look out for to finish among the top five on Thursday), they may see improvement from last week.

- by Derek Oppenheim