4A State Meet Preview

Some of the top runners in this year's 4A field went head-to-head in what was a thrilling race at the Montgomery County Championships. (Photo by EJ Trapsi)

We have your definitive guide for this year's 4A state championships!

Boys WinnerTeam ChampYearTeam ChampGirls Winner
Obsaa Feda (Northwood) 15:44Severna Park (48)

2018 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Severna Park (102)Bronwyn Patterson (South River) 19:06
Adam Nakasaka (Bethesda-Chevy Chase) 15:50Severna Park (40)

2017 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Walter Johnson (77)Abigail Green (Walter Johnson) 18:17
Rohann Asfaw (Richard Montgomery) 16:04Dulaney (97)

2016 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Walter Johnson (59)Maria Coffin (Annapolis) 17:49
Eric Walz (Dulaney) 16:06Dulaney (37)

2015 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Walter Johnson (51)Maria Coffin (Annapolis) 18:25
Evan Woods (Walt Whitman) 15:49Severna Park (37)

2014 (Hereford HS post-2013)

Walter Johnson (51)Nora McUmber (Bethesda-Chevy Chase) 18:39
Ryan Forsyth (Severna Park) 15:41Severna Park (38)

2013 (McDaniel College)

Walter Johnson (60)Isabel Griffith (Dulaney) 18:26
Will Bertrand (Clarksburg) 16:02Severna Park (47)

2012 (Hereford HS)

Bethesda-Chevy Chase (67)Caroline Beakes (Bethesda-Chevy Chase) 19:17
Scott Sheehan (Walter Johnson) 16:29Walter Johnson (71)

2011 (Hereford HS)

Bethesda-Chevy Chase (103)Caroline Guiot (Walt Whitman) 19:28
Chris Miller (Northwest) 16:09Walter Johnson (74)

2010 (Hereford HS)

Walt Whitman (70)Anna Ryba (Walt Whitman) 19:16

4A Boys Individuals

The Favorite: Sam Keeny - Senior, South River

Photo by Craig Amoss

Given all that has happened within the past few weeks, there are a couple runners who would have been worthy of this title (to the point where there really is no true "favorite" in the real sense of the term). Even Keeny was just a few meters short of a his second consecutive runner-up finish; it took a monster kick at the 4A East regional to both chase down Severna Park's Jake Gelfand and simultaneously hold off Howard's Kendall Phillips. Keeny has plenty going his way, too: two runner-up finishes behind Anish Nanjappa at Seahawk and Bull Run, where he beat some of his key competitors, as well as the state's fastest 5K (15:07) in a race where he also beat Garrett Suhr. Simply put, Keeny has shown a slightly higher ceiling this year than anyone else in the field. South River had never fielded an individual state XC champion (male or female) until Bronwyn Patterson won last fall.

The Contenders:

- Ayalew Fantaw - Senior, Northwood: His 15:32 Great American 5K ranks fourth in the state behind Keeny, Suhr and Owen Johnson. Three races between 15:32 and 15:39 illustrates his consistency, as he has finished first or second at every non-dual meet (beside Great American). Could Fantaw make it back-to-back years with a Gladiator champion?

- Jake Gelfand - Junior, Severna Park: Gelfand spent most of the first half of the season as an emerging leader for a deep Falcons team that lacked a true frontrunner. Well, not anymore. Gelfand closed the gap on the leaders at the Anne Arundel County Championships, then turned in an impressive for-all-the-marbles performance at regionals, creating as much separation from a talented field as he could before getting edged at the line by Keeny. Since 2011, there has only been one season (2016) when a Falcon did not finish in the top four at the state meet.

- Surafel Mengist - Senior, Springbrook: How's this for timing? Last week's win at the 4A North regional championship was his first major victory (non-dual meet) of his career, XC or track. His 15:37 5K from the Montgomery County Championships and last week's win put him close enough to the rest of this group to call him a true contender.

- Tanner Piotrowski - Senior, Arundel: His fourth-place finish at the 4A East regional meet last Thursday was the first time since the opening weekend when he didn't finish either first or second. His back-to-back performances at Frank Keyser (15:02, just a few seconds behind Anish Nanjappa) and Anne Arundel counties (15:01, pulled away from Keeny for the victory) highlight just how good Piotrowski can be on the right day.

- Garrett Suhr - Senior, Richard Montgomery: Not counting dual meets, Suhr has only lost once to a Maryland runner this season (Keeny at Great American). His 15:16 from the Race of Champions down in Cary is still the state's second-best time. Suhr was not 100% last fall, but finished 13th at the state meet as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore.

The Dark Horses:

- Timothy Boyce - Junior, Northwood

- James Dennison - Senior, Severna Park

- Henok Eshetu - Senior, Northwood

- Jacob Marks - Senior, Walter Johnson

- Kendall Phillips - Junior, Howard

- Carson Sloat - Junior, Severna Park

4A Boys Teams

The Favorite: Severna Park

Photo by Alicia Anthony

The Falcons have held our #1 statewide team ranking since the preseason, and have never really been in danger of relinquishing that title. They had five runners between 15:35 and 15:50 at Great American. They scored 26 points at counties and 29 points at regionals, both fields with talent and depth. Perhaps most impressively, they put five runners in the top ten in the elite boys race at Bull Run, scoring 34 points (River Hill finished second with 125). Of their five state titles this decade, their lowest point total was 37 in 2014. The 2017 Bohemia Manor boys own the decade's lowest total at 34. You have to go back to 2005 to find a team that scored lower than that (Clear Spring had 32). How few points could they score with a good race on Saturday?

The Contenders:

- Dulaney: The Lions gave River Hill a good fight for second place back at Bull Run in September. After rolling through counties, they came within six points of reclaiming their 4A North title from Northwood. What they lack in a low stick, they make up for with a tight spread that has yet to exceed 45 seconds this year. Their five-year podium (top two) streak was snapped last year - could they start a new one this weekend?

- Northwood: The Gladiators have a top four that can hang close to Severna Park, but the absence of sophomore Lamar Wilson for much of the year has exposed their lack of depth a bit. Not that the season has been disappointing by any stretch, as they have repeated as county and regional champions, beating a strong Dulaney team on their home course. It just means their path to the school's third-ever podium finish will likely involve another tight battle with Dulaney, Walter Johnson and others.

- Walter Johnson: After finishing third at the Montgomery County Championships, the Wildcats dominated the 4A West region, putting four runners in the top 14 with a 34-second spread. It's been a renaissance year for a program that won four straight state titles from 2008-2011, one that will end in a chance at their first podium finish since 2012.

The Dark Horses:

- Broadneck

- Montgomery Blair

- South River

4A Girls Individuals

The Favorite: Jenna Goldberg - Senior, Walter Johnson

Photo by Tony Morales

What began as back-to-back highly anticipated matchups ended with similar results: Wildcat senior Jenna Goldberg running away with another stunningly comfortable margin of victory. First, she demolished the Bohrer Park course record at the county championships previously held by Wildcat great (and Footlocker finalist) Abigail Green. Then, in perhaps an equally-impressive effort she ran 18:10 on a modified, challenging High Point Farm course (for reference, Green ran 18:17 on the previous edition of the course). After these past few weeks Goldberg has firmly established herself as the runner to beat in Saturday's field.

The Contenders:

- Amanda Eliker - Senior, Howard: Eliker is back in top form at just the right time. In the past two weeks she won both the Howard County and 4A East titles (both contested at Centennial High School). She outlasted Arundel's Niya Torres in a back-and-forth race last Thursday, and a similar performance at the state meet would go a long way to helping the Lions secure their first state title since 2007.

- Niya Torres - Senior, Arundel: What a breakout senior season it has been for Torres. Her fifth-place finish at the Seahawk Invitational was unexpected, sure - and it has also turned out to be her lowest finish to date. Wins at the Howard County and Bull Run (large school race) invitationals, as well as a county title, stand out on her season resumé, and she proved last week that she can hang with Eliker. Like her teammate Tanner Piotrowski, she will be seeking the first individual state XC title in school history.

- Charlotte Turesson - Junior, Richard Montgomery: Turesson had run comparable times to Goldberg throughout the first half of the season; her 17:42 5K time from Great American was second in the state before the county meet. Turesson hasn't been able to hang with Goldberg for a full 5K in either of their past two matchups, but she has done it multiple times this season. The Rockets have never fielded an girls individual XC state champion.

The Dark Horses:

- Nimrit Ahuja - Sophomore, Howard

- Ella Gaul - Junior, Walter Johnson

- Anna Janke - Senior, Broadneck

- Katie Kaneko - Sophomore, Sherwood

- Parker O'Brien - Sophomore, Leonardtown

- Sophia Zell - Senior, Severna Park

4A Girls Teams

The Favorite: Howard

Photo by Craig Amoss

Like the Severna Park boys, Howard has held onto the top spot in our statewide rankings for two months (since the end of opening weekend). Unlike the Severna Park boys, Howard has been challenged a few times - by Severna Park. Each time, however, the Lions have responded. They beat Severna Park and Northern at the Great American XC Festival without senior leader Eliker. Their race at Frank Keyser was much closer (the Lions won by just three points), but their 17-point margin of victory from the regional meet on Thursday points to them once again as the clear-cut favorite. Sophomore Nimrit Ahuja and junior Sara Kindbom give them two more runners capable of finishing in the top ten and helping Howard win their third title in school history.

The Contenders:

- Broadneck: The Bruins have played third fiddle to Howard and Severna Park all season. Not having sophomore Mollie Fenn has hurt them in championship season, although they did give Severna Park a decent challenge at counties (35-49 final team scores) without her. They still have an incredibly talented and deep team, and will likely be locked in a battle with Whitman and Walter Johnson for third place honors on Saturday.

- Severna Park: The defending state champions have been throwing haymakers at Howard all season, while the Lions have stood strong. They sit ten points behind Howard in the 4A 5K team rankings, and eight behind them in the three mile team rankings. Their Frank Keyser race (20-second 1-5 spread) will likely be their best blueprint if they are to finally crack Howard's armor and defend their state title.

- Walter Johnson: They nearly won a rematch against Whitman at last week's 4A West regionals with Jenna Goldberg leading the way. With the individual state title favorite and another girl (Ella Gaul) capable of a top-five finish, it will be interesting to see if the Wildcats will be the team best equipped to make a run at the top two teams. 

- Walt Whitman: The two 4A West teams could not be further apart when it comes to team construction, but they somehow keep finding their way back toward each other. The Vikings looked to have re-established their advantage at the county meet, only for the Wildcats to come storming back at regionals. Will Whitman's pack mentality give them the best shot at breaking free from the pack and challenging Severna Park and Howard?

The Dark Horses:

- Arundel

- Dulaney

- Leonardtown

- Urbana

- Thomas S. Wootton