We highlight the girls individual winners from championship season, which included four cross country rookies, two repeat champions and plenty of team titles to go with them!
Photo by John Roemer
It didn't take long for Younker, a junior, to rise from "cross country rookie" to "1A title contender". Her 19:20 Frank Keyser performance eventually set her apart from the rest of the field, and she won both Washington County and 1A West titles leading into the state championships. Younker did receive a strong fight from Northern Garrett freshman Sophia Brown who closed on Younker coming up the dip for the last time. Ultimately, however, Younker would pull away from Brown in the final stretch, winning the title by 18 seconds. Younker became Smithsburg's first individual state champion since 1985, and Brown's effort wasn't for naught; the Huskies upset the 1A West champions from Brunswick by five points to win the team title.
Photo by John Roemer
The most surprising champion on this list, McQuitty pulled out an upset in the 2A race on Saturday. McQuitty had won both CMC and Frederick County titles, but had finished a fairly distant second to South Carroll's Grace Siehler multiple times this season (including at the 2A West regional meet). However, Siehler never pulled away from McQuitty or Winters Mill's Kathryn Hopkins, with the three together coming up the dip the last time. Of the trio, it was the Middletown freshman who pulled away, winning by six seconds (the closest margin of any of these six races). McQuitty became the Knights' third individual state XC champion and first since 1999.
Coming off a poor race at the 3A South regionals, Olson came into Saturday's state meet with some extra motivation. Not only was she trying to lead the Northern girls to their fourth straight team title against potentially the best team they had come across during the streak, but she also ran for her brothers, a personal source of inspiration that also affected the rest of the team. Olson became the only repeat champion of the day at the MPSSAA state meet, running away from the rest of the 3A girls field with the third-fastest time of the day (behind only the top two girls from the 4A race). She became Northern's first-ever girls individual state XC champion and led the Patriots to a narrow victory over Bel Air.
Photo by Mike Piotrowski
Goldberg completed a season that saw her go undefeated in the state of Maryland (and everywhere except the Oatlands Invitational back in September). Despite not entering the race with a goal of beating the post-2013 Hereford course record (or even being aware of what it was), Goldberg nearly took down Maria Coffin's 17:49 record in the process of winning her first career state title (XC or track). For Goldberg it was the cherry on top of a terrific breakout senior cross country season, one that nearly vaulted the Wildcats to a podium finish (they finished just three points behind Severna Park for second place). It was the ninth time in state history a Wildcat won the individual state title, and the second time in the past three years.
Another cross country rookie, Cetta won her fourth race in a row, adding a private school state title along with her ISL and county private school victories. Cetta and teammate Natalie Desarbo went 1-2 in the large school girls field as the Panthers won the team title by five points over Stone Ridge. Cetta's 18:51 5K personal best from the ISL Championships last month is third-best in the state among private school runners behind the two top runners who faced off in the next race.
Photo by Craig Amoss
The IAAM Championships featured not only a race between two of the top runners in the state, but a freshman and sophomore, no less. Storrie Kulynych-Irvin and Juliette Whittaker went head-to-head in the varsity race at McDaniel College; in the end, the freshman emerged victorious, pulling away and winning by over 50 seconds to remain undefeated on the season. Whittaker, meanwhile, finished second overall and first in the A Conference to win her second IAAM title in as many attempts.