3A State Meet Preview

The Northern girls enter Saturday's meet winner of three consecutive 3A state championships. (Photo by Keeley Olson)

We have your definitive guide for this year's 3A state championships!

2010s Table of Champions

Boys WinnerTeam ChampYearTeam ChampGirls Winner
Michael Belmaggio (Linganore) 16:16Centennial (87)

2018 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Northern-Calvert (56)Oakley Olson (Huntingtown) 18:59
Kieran McDermott (Bel Air) 15:59Linganore (73)

2017 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Northern-Calvert (37)Haley Cummins (C. Milton Wright) 19:00
Ryan Lockett (Poolesville) 16:00River Hill (47)

2016 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Northern-Calvert (72)Haley Cummins (C. Milton Wright) 18:41
Matt Bennett (Northern-Calvert) 16:14River Hill (58)

2015 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Centennial (68)Annie Imhof (Great Mills) 19:25
Nick Fransham (North Harford) 15:41River Hill (65)

2014 (Hereford HS post-2013)

River Hill (64)Emily Mulhern (Urbana) 19:02
Ben Freed (Gov. Thomas Johnson) 16:06Gov. Thomas Johnson (86)

2013 (McDaniel College)

Centennial (56)Shreya Nalubola (Centennial) 18:41
Harry Bullen (Annapolis) 16:19Hereford (52)

2012 (Hereford HS)

Reservoir (65)Emily Mulhern (Urbana) 19:20
Braden Bruning (Linganore) 16:21Hereford (72)

2011 (Hereford HS)

Hereford (48)Emily Mulhern (Urbana) 19:53
Mason Rivera (Hereford) 16:27Hereford (63)

2010 (Hereford HS)

Hereford (48)Erin Causey (Hereford) 19:59

3A Boys Individuals

The Favorite: Anish Nanjappa - Senior, River Hill

Photo by Alicia Anthony

The two 3A races two of the three on Saturday that will feature defending state champions. Nanjappa won last year's 2A race as a junior, the culmination of an ascent that began back in 2016 - the last time the Hawks won a state title - when he finished 15th as a freshman. His steady march up the state rankings, year after year, has seemingly reached its zenith; after all, its hard to get much better than an undefeated season, which he is one final win away from achieving. His wins include performances at some of the state's biggest races of the fall (Seahawk, Bull Run and Frank Keyser invitationals) as well as county and regional titles for the second consecutive year. The biggest storyline on Saturday might be his pursuit of the Hereford course record, which he missed by just two seconds earlier this season at Bull Run.

The Contenders:

- Joshua Doughty - Junior, North Point: Another 3A newcomer, Doughty jumped into the state spotlight with a win at the SMAC Championships. He also clocked the second-fastest 3A time at Bull Run (16:24); more than ten seconds faster than Snyder, Sorensen and Zylka. The Eagles have not had an individual state champion in their 14-year school history.

- Tamrat Snyder - Senior, Damascus: His 4:18 1600 from last spring has translated well onto the course this year. Snyder won the medium school race at Bull Run in September, then clocked a season-best 15:30 three mile at Frank Keyser and 15:54 5K at the Montgomery County Championships. The Hornets' last state individual state title came in 2003.

- Peter Sorensen - Junior, Towson: With four performances between 15:54 and 16:19 this season, Sorensen has come far from last fall when he only broke 17 minutes twice. His season-best 5K is tied with Snyder for second-best among 3A runners this fall. It has been 34 years since a General won an individual XC state title.

- Caleb Zylka - Senior, Bel Air: Last year's 3A state runner-up caught a bad break this year when River Hill was moved back into the 3A classification; outside of Nanjappa, Zylka has been the top 3A runner in the state this fall. His 5K personal best (15:34) is 20 seconds faster than anyone else in the field has run this year.

The Dark Horses:

- DeVion Bryant - Senior, North Point

- Jacob Cole - Junior, Centennial

- Conor McGirr - Senior, Huntingtown

- Jeffrey Wedding - Junior, Chopticon

- Zachary Wedding - Junior, Chopticon

3A Boys Teams

The Favorite: River Hill

Photo by Craig Amoss

Does something about 3A bring out the best in River Hill? The last time they raced in the classification they won their third straight state title. Can they start a new streak this season? A week ago, the answer would have probably been a resounding "yes", as the Hawks had handily beaten every team in the state not named Severna Park. The biggest question heading into states: was their tight battle with Centennial at the regional meet a sign of another close race at states, or will River Hill regain their dominant form that saw them score just 37 points (to Centennial's 71) at the county championships a week prior?

The Contenders:

- Centennial: The Eagles have improved all season, culminating in their most recent effort when they nearly took down the heavy favorites at the 3A East regional meet. The defending 3A state champions actually outscored River Hill, 26-29, through their first four runners. Could the Eagles build on last week's momentum and win their first back-to-back state titles in school history?

- C. Milton Wright: Since reaching full strength as the calendar turned to October, the Wright boys have been unbeatable. They followed up two close wins over Fallston in conference action with another tight victory at regionals over Towson. The Mustangs rank second in our three mile team rankings, well ahead of Bel Air in the third spot. Wright hasn't finished in the top two at the state championships since winning back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002.

- North Point: The North Point boys have been gaining momentum over the past few weeks. After beating Chopticon on a third-runner tiebreaker at the SMAC Championships, they created some separation at regionals, beating the Braves by ten points. Doughty and Bryant give them two potential top-five finishers that would be tough for other teams to match.

- Towson: With a frontrunner in Sorensen and six more runners who have clocked season-best 5K times between 16:46 and 17:11 the Generals are poised to make a run at their first podium finish in over 30 years. They also finished as the third-best 3A team (just one spot behind Centennial) in our post-Bull Run boys combined meet.

The Dark Horses:

- Bel Air

- Chopticon

- Mount Hebron

3A Girls Individuals

The Favorite: Oakley Olson - Junior, Northern-Calvert

Photo by Keeley Olson

Last year's state champion finished second at the 3A South regional last week, but will still be the favorite heading into the weekend. Before last Thursday, Olson had only lost to Juliette Whittaker in races within state borders (which does not include the Great American XC Festival in October). Olson beat Great Mills sophomore Cooper Brotherton twice in head-to-head matchups prior to regionals, and beat Bel Air sophomore Mackenzie Morrison by nearly 30 seconds at Bull Run. Last year's 3A individual champion will have no shortage of competition, but has been the most consistently great 3A runner this year. She could also become Northern's first individual XC state champion, and a one point low stick would go a long way to helping the Patriots capture their fourth straight state title.

The Contenders:

- Cooper Brotherton - Sophomore, Great Mills: Brotherton helped muddy up the state meet outlook last week when she beat Olson to claim her first XC regional title. Given that she had not finished within 30 seconds of Olson at any of their previous matchups, she won't be the favorite heading into Saturday, but her performance does help highlight just how good of a sophomore season she has had to date. She ranks fifth among all sophomores by three mile time this year.

- Haley Cummins - Senior, C. Milton Wright: The two-time state champion in 2016-17 has formed one of the state's top duos over the past two years with teammate Perry. Cummins has turned in back-to-back third place finishes behind Morrison and Perry at both conferences and regionals. Cummins also won the medium school race at Bull Run earlier this year.

- Mackenzie Morrison - Sophomore, Bel Air: After running the sixth-fastest overall time at Bull Run in September, Morrison was squarely on the state map. As it has turned out, it was just the beginning of a run of dominance for the Bobcat sophomore; she ran a MD #6 and 3A-best 18:33 5K at Paul Short and swept her way through divisionals, conferences and regionals against some of the top 3A runners in the state. Among the contenders, no one can match Morrison's impressive season resumé.

- Lindsay Perry - Senior, C. Milton Wright: Perry has been the Mustangs' top runner for most of her senior season. Cummins and Perry both finished in the top seven last year and have a chance to score less than ten points combined for Wright on Saturday. Perry already has a state title (2019 indoor 800) on her high school resumé.

The Dark Horses:

- Caroline Benda - Junior, Hereford

- Blair Fowler - Sophomore, Chopticon

- Rubie Goffena - Sophomore, Manchester Valley

- Hannah Mack - Junior, Northern-Calvert

- Elizabeth Pickett - Sophomore, Bel Air

- Madeline Till - Junior, Towson

3A Girls Teams

The Favorite: Bel Air

Photo by John Roemer

What a battle Saturday's race has the potential to be, as the Bobcats are favorites by not much more than a coin flip. The scenario is almost the same as it was last year; the two teams met at Bull Run, when the young and talented Bel Air girls knocked off the defending state champions - only for Northern to respond a month and a half later by winning their third straight title back at Hereford. Bel Air once again beat Northern at Bull Run this season - albeit by only nine points - in their last meeting. The team rankings? Northern leads in the three mile rankings, while Bel Air leads in the 5K rankings. Both teams have at least three runners capable of top-ten finishes, including frontrunners who could each win the state title. The bottom line: don't get caught up in the "favorite" versus "contender" labels for these two teams. Rather, enjoy what should be another close race between two of the best team's in their respective school's history.

The Contenders:

- Centennial: Another strong day of pack-minded running (meet-low 47-second 1-5 split at the 3A East regional meet) earned Centennial a region title by a comfortable margin on their home course. How will it translate to the state field dominated by teams full of runners capable of finishing in the top ten?

- Hereford: The Bulls ran without junior leader Caroline Benda at the 3A North regionals, dropping them more than 30 points behind Towson. At full strength, Hereford finished much closer to the county champions from Dulaney than they did at Towson earlier in October. They were also the next-closest team to Bel Air and Northern at Bull Run, but it is going to take all-hands on deck to keep their six-year podium streak (top two finish) alive. Since 2001, the only year in which they were not a top two team was in 2012.

- Northern-Calvert: Read above. Discerning any gaps between the two top teams in the field has proven nearly impossible this season. Both teams have six girls that have run under 20:30 this year. Every single place and point will be important on Saturday's race, and a repeat performance from junior Oakley Olson would go a long way to helping them become the eighth school in state history to win four straight state titles.

- Towson: The Generals were regional runners-up behind Bel Air and made the race (ten point margin) closer than expected heading into the race. Their last podium finish came back in 2008 when they won their school's fifth state title.

The Dark Horses:

- C. Milton Wright

- Edgewood

- Huntingtown