Anne Arundel County Girls XC Preview

Photo by Craig Amoss

The 2018 Anne Arundel County girls cross country championship - and season - was dominated by the seniors. At the county championships, seven of the top eight finishers were seniors, and the top four all hailed from different schools. The one girl to break up that group of upperclassmen? Broadneck sophomore Grace Denius. On a team that looked to have one of the strongest 1-2 punches in the state heading into the fall of 2019 with Anna Janke and Mollie Fenn, it was Denius who led the Bruins at both regionals and states. Denius followed up her cross country season with an equally impressive breakout on the track, lowering her 1600 personal best from 5:20 to 5:12 in one fell swoop, finishing fifth at the indoor state meet. Is Denius ready to seize control of the county with the class of 2020 having graduated?

Photo by Brandon Miles

Talk about burying the lede - a former XC state champion will (hopefully) make her return to the course in the fall of 2020! Back in the fall of 2018, South River sophomore Bronwyn Patterson surprised everyone by capturing the 4A individual state title. Not only had she won only one major race all season, but it was the 12-second gap she put on the rest of the field in what was supposedly a wide-open race that really made an impression.

Unable to compete from the end of May 2019 all the way through the fall, Patterson returned back to the track this winter and almost immediately recaptured her state-championship form, winning state titles in the 1600 and 800. Even after having to adjust back to the course, Patterson is still definitely the most accomplished runner in the county entering the fall. Along with juniors Morgan Douglass and Lauryn McKenna, Patterson and the South River girls could hop right back into the mix with Severna Park and Broadneck in 2020.

Photo by Craig Amoss

With each passing year, Severna Park's depth seems to increase. It's telling that a team can lose its top three runners from the previous season - Sophia Zell (second at the county meet), Allysa Combs (fifth) and Grace Cambon (seventh) - and still easily be the favorites in the county once again the next year. The Falcons feature the third- through sixth-fastest returners from the county meet, led by three new rising seniors in Caroline Gage, Kelsie O'Neill and Cara Vandemeulebroecke.

Photo by Keeley Olson

Chesapeake's Nia Quinn made a big sophomore leap in 2019, improving from 40th up to 19th at the county championships and finishing higher at the 3A state meet (21st) than she did at the 2018 3A East regional meet (27th). Even during the season, Quinn dropped nearly two minutes at Hereford between the Bull Run Invitational and the state championships. Her 20:41 time at states was the seventh-fastest by an Anne Arundel County returning runner.

Photo by Matthew Hazdic

Beyond Denius, the Broadneck girls have a returning team that might be strong enough to unseat Severna Park as the county's top team. Much of that would revolve around rising junior Mollie Fenn recapturing her 2019 spring form, when she broke 11 minutes in the 3200 at the outdoor state meet to win the 4A title. Fenn only competed sparingly at the beginning of the 2019 cross country season, and the Bruins were still able to give Severna Park a fight at the county meet. With a young core that includes rising junior Lilah Sage, sophomore Stephanie Costello and senior Jasmine Jones, a 1-2 punch of Denius and Fenn could turn Broadneck into a top-five team in Maryland.