Boys Runner of the Decade: Will Merritt (Smithsburg High School, Class of 2017)
Photo by Steven Pisano
Personal Bests: 14:56 3M, 15:44 5K
Medals: 2 county, 3 region, 2 state
Merritt joined Smithsburg's cross country team as a sophomore in the fall of 2014 and finished as their top runner in just their third race of the season. Merritt had multiple breakthrough races at the end of the year, finishing fourth at the county championships (dropping his three mile personal best by 46 seconds) and then winning a surprising regional title by clocking a 16:33 5K. He rounded out the season by finishing fourth at the state meet. In 2015 Merritt came out and immediately picked up a win in the small school division of the Interstate Classic, and perhaps his best race of the season came in October at the Frank Keyser Invitational, where he beat Liberty's Nick Tilson in the small school race. After back-to-back wins at the county and regional meets, Merritt was dominant at the state meet, putting over 30 seconds between him and the next-closest finisher and leading the Leopards to their first podium finish since winning the Class C state title in 1977. After winning four more state titles on the track as a junior Merritt came out in the fall of 2016 as one of the best runners in the state. In fact, Merritt did not lose a race within state borders all season, and his only loss during the season was a sixth-place finish at the Oatlands Invitational. His season included a 14:56 three mile personal best performance at the county championships at Boonsboro, and clocking the fastest time (15:54) across all classifications at states. Merritt then made Maryland history, along with McDonogh's Dalton Hengst, for becoming the first Maryland boys since Sherwood's Solomon Haile to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals. There, Merritt finished 33rd in the final race of his high school career.
Merritt's 15:44 time at the Foot Locker Northeast regional in 2016 was the third-fastest time by a Maryland runner this decade behind only Hengst and Chase Weaverling (who finished 11th in the 2013 race). He still owns one of the 20 fastest times on Hereford's post-2013 XC course, and was tenth before 2019's relatively fast state meet. He is still the only 1A boy to have broken 16 minutes at states on the new course. Only two people throughout the decade ran a faster three mile time than Merritt's 14:56 time throughout the decade. He was also one of just five two-time state champions throughout the decade in Maryland, and the first two-time state champion from Western Maryland since Clear Spring's Tim Mason in 1996-97.
College: Mount St. Mary's University
Personal Bests: 15:37 5K, 24:29 8K, 31:24 10K
Merritt finished third at the Northeast Conference championships as a senior in the fall of 2019. That year he also ran 8K and 10K personal bests at the Princeton Invitational and NCAA DI Mid-Atlantic regional championships, respectively.
Zane Chalker (Williamsport High School, Class of 2020)
Photo by John Roemer
Personal Bests: 15:27 3M, 15:54 5K
Medals: 1 county, 1 region, 1 state
Chalker's cross country career began in the fall of 2016 on a young Williamsport team that featured many of the freshmen that would eventually hoist a state title trophy this past fall. The next year he took over as the leader of the team and one of the top young runners in the state; his 16:15 three mile season best at the CMC Championships was eighth-fastest among sophomores in the state. He also finished 12th at the 2A West regional meet, qualifying individually for states (where he finished 45th). As a junior Chalker set three mile (16:13) and 5K (16:58) personal bests while also picking up the first two wins of his cross country career, and while the Wildcats were one spot away from qualifying for the state meet as a team, he once again made it as an individual and finished 25th. Williamsport moved back to the 1A classification for the first time since 2010 in the fall of 2019, but Chalker's season was dominant either way. He won eight major races throughout the season, including a 15:27 performance at the Frank Keyser Invitational, and a runner-up performance behind eventual 2A state champion Kyle Lund at the CMC Championships. Chalker was untouchable during the final few races of the year, winning the 1A state title by almost a full minute and leading a Williamsport boys team full of four-year seniors to the program's first state championship since 1975.
Not only did Chalker lead Williamsport to its third title in school history, he also became the school's second individual state champion (and first since 1978). His 57-second margin of victory at the 2019 state meet was the largest in a boys' state meet race since Smithsburg's David Wilson won the 2009 1A state title by 67 seconds.
Evan Hardy (Williamsport High School, Class of 2012)
Photo by Marleen Van den Neste
Personal Bests: 15:18 3M, 16:01 5K
Medals: 2 county, 1 region
After competing for Williamsport's track team as a freshman, Hardy joined the cross country team in the fall of 2009 and became the top runner for a team on the rise. He was the runner-up in the small school race at the Frank Keyser Invitational and in the JV race at the Oatlands Invitational. After placing fifth at the 1A West regional meet Hardy broke through at the state meet, finishing third. As a sophomore Hardy picked up his first major cross country victories, winning both an MVAL Antietam conference title and a Washington County title. Hardy was the runner-up to Allegany senior Ian MacFawn at both regionals and states, and the only boy to finish within 40 seconds of MacFawn in the latter. After back-to-back third-place finishes in early September 2011, Hardy then went on a winning streak that encompassed the majority of his senior season, including a 15:18 three-mile performance at Frank Keyser and wins at conferences, counties and regionals. Hardy's 16:34 time at states was 40 seconds faster than the winning 1A time of 17:14, but Williamsport moved up to the 2A classification that year and Hardy finished second behind Rising Sun's Austin McGinley. However, Hardy and the Williamsport boys did end on a strong note, team-wise, placing second overall behind Winters Mill, earning their first state trophy since 1978. He finished his cross country career by setting a 5K personal best at NXR Southeast, placing 43rd in the championship race.
Among Western Maryland runners throughout the decade, only Will Merritt ran a faster three-mile time than Hardy. His winning time at the Frank Keyser Invitational was the fourth-fastest run in the small school race since 2010. Between 2010 and 2012 no Western Maryland runner ran faster than Hardy's 16:34 time at the old Hereford course. He is also the only runner from the region to have finished among the top three at states three different times over the course of the decade.
College: Lehigh University
Personal Bests: 19:16 6K, 25:03 8K, 31:03 10K
At Lehigh Hardy ran his 8K personal best on his home course at the Paul Short Invitational in 2015. He twice competed at the NCAA DI Mid-Atlantic regionals, finishing 35th in 2013 and 32nd in 2015.
Darren Harman (South Hagerstown High School, Class of 2016)
Photo by Rollie Jacobs
Personal Bests: 15:20 3M, 16:22 5K
Medals: 1 county
As a freshman at South Hagerstown, Harman clocked a 17:51 three mile personal best. As a sophomore, Harman dropped that time down to 16:35 at the 2013 Frank Keyser Invitational, and went on to finish as the final medalist at the 3A West regional meet and qualify for the 3A state meet (where he placed 109th). After running 10:10 as a sophomore in the spring of 2014, Harman was ready to take the leap as a junior on the course. He was the runner-up in the large school race at the Bull Run Invitational and then won the Don Stoner Invitational. Harman also broke the 16-minute mark in the three mile at the MVAL Championships, then went on to place seventh at the 3A West regional meet and 17th at states - the highest any Rebel had placed at states since 1973. Harman's senior season included victories at both the Bull Run and Frank Keyser invitationals, as well as a 5K personal best at the Wildcat Invitational. He placed second at the Washington County championships behind Will Merritt then was the regional runner-up at the 3A West meet. At states, Harman was part of the closest finish of the decade, almost chasing down Northern's Matt Bennett at the line (Bennett held on, 16:14.81 to 16:14.89). His second-place finish was tied for the best in school history.
Harman's 15:20 three mile time was third-best in Western Maryland behind Merritt and Hardy. Only Merritt and Chalker have run faster on the post-2013 Hereford course. Harman's second-place finish in the 3A classification was the best finish by a Western Maryland runner in the 3A or 4A classification since 1983.
College: Utah State University
Personal Bests: 20:07 4M, 24:34 8K, 31:33 10K
Harman ran both 8K and 10K personal bests as a sophomore in the fall of 2017. Harman placed 28th at the Mountain West Conference championships and 70th at the NCAA DI Mountain regional, where Utah State qualified for the national championships by placing fourth. He ran his 10K personal best at the 2017 NCAA DI national championships, placing 194th.
Declan Horner (Southern Garrett High School, Class of 2018)
Photo by Craig Amoss
Personal Bests: 15:25 3M, 16:13 5K
Medals: 3 conference
For four years Horner was one of the driving forces behind Southern Garrett's second five-plus-year run of greatness in school history (the team won five straight state titles from 1993-97). Horner joined the Rams as a freshman in 2014, one year after they had finished second at the 1A state meet for the first time since 1998. Horner placed sixth at the 1A West regional meet and then improved to fifth at the state meet, helping seal a dominant 43-point performance for Southern Garrett that earned them their first state title in 17 years. In 2015 Horner won his first two major races on back-to-back weeks at the Mountain Ridge and Broadford invitationals. Later in the fall he ran season bests of 16:17 (three mile) and 16:41 (5K), won the first of three AMAC championships and finished fourth at states. In 2016, Horner finished first or second at every race of the season through states, including wins at the Frank Keyser Invitational and AMAC championships. He was the only one to challenge Will Merritt at regionals and states (he was the only one to finish within 50 seconds of Merritt at the state meet) and led the Rams back to the state podium, although they finished six points behind Bohemia Manor. As a senior, Horner was once again dominant in Maryland, and also branched out beyond state borders, running 16:20 at Oatlands and 13:23 (4K) at the Manhattan Invitational. Horner did not run at the regional meet, and although he faded in the final stretch of the state meet, Horner and the Rams still finished second in the team standings, earning their fourth state trophy in five years.
Horner's second-place finish at the state meet in 2016 is tied for the program's highest-ever individual finish, and the first time a Southern Garrett runner finished that high since 1997. His 15:32 performance at the 2017 Interstate Classic was the second-fastest time by any runner at the meet since 2010 (the only faster time came from Woodrow Wilson's (WV) Chris Barbera in the same race). Horner's 16:51 time at Foot Locker Northeast was 33rd-fastest among all Maryland runners in the 2010s.
Ian MacFawn (Allegany High School, Class of 2011)
Photo by Marleen Van den Neste
Personal Bests: 15:40 3M, 16:59 5K
Medals: 2 conference, 1 region, 1 state
MacFawn already had some big shoes to fill when he debuted as a freshman for Allegany in the fall of 2007; that year, his sister Lauryn would win her third consecutive state championship. Ian wasn't an immediate state champion like his sister had been, but he did finish as the Allegany County runner-up in 2007 and placed 15th at the state meet. The next year, MacFawn was the AMAC conference runner-up, and finished among the top five at both regionals and states. After running 4:28 and 9:50 on the track as a sophomore, he began his junior cross country season on a roll, winning races (including the small school race at the Bull Run Invitational and the AMAC title) all the way through the regional and state meets, where he was the runner-up behind Smithsburg's David Wilson. That spring, MacFawn won his first state title in the 1600 - and it wouldn't be his last. In the fall of 2010, he repeated as Frankfort and Broadford invitationals and Allegany County champion. MacFawn also set a three mile personal best at the Frank Keyser Invitational and defended his AMAC conference title. This year, however, MacFawn's medal collection would extend beyond the conference meet, as he dominated at the 1A West regional meet and held off Evan Hardy at the state meet, becoming the Campers' third different individual state XC champion in a 15-year span.
MacFawn's three mile personal best was the fastest in Allegany County and eighth-fastest among all Western Maryland runners. Between 2010 and 2012 only Evan Hardy ran a faster time at Hereford High School than MacFawn's 16:47 time.
College: College of William and Mary
Personal Bests: 15:39 5K, 26:55 8K
MacFawn competed twice at the Colonial Athletic Association championships, finishing 25th in 2013. He ran his 8K personal best at the 2013 CNU Invitational.
Henry Schmidt (Boonsboro High School, Class of 2019)
Photo by John Roemer
Personal Bests: 15:30 3M, 16:12 5K
During a decade in which Boonsboro won three 1A state titles, nobody finished higher at the state meet than Henry Schmidt in 2018. Schmidt debuted for the Warriors in the fall of 2015 (on the school's second state title-winning team of the decade), but it wasn't until his sophomore year that he broke through onto the varsity team. After finishing 23rd at the 1A West regional meet he placed 27th at the state championships finishing as the team's fourth runner. Schmidt came out firing as a junior beginning the 2017 season with a 16:28 three mile performance at the Interstate Classic (more than a minute faster than his previous personal best). He was the runner-up in the Gambrills division (and sixth overall) at the CMC Championships and finished second at the county championships, although he fell back to just 20th and 25th at regionals and states, respectively. After running 10:01 on the track as a junior and helping Boonsboro win a 4x800 title, Schmidt came back leading a Boonsboro team poised to contend for a state title once again. A string of strong early-season performances included a 5K personal best at the Rebel Invitational and a win in the small school division at the Bull Run Invitational. He clocked a big three mile personal best at the CMC championships and was the runner-up both there and at counties. After a fourth-place finish at regionals, Schmidt rebounded and nearly won the 1A state title, only losing his lead to Bohemia Manor's Zachary Laird in the final stretch. His runner-up finish was still more than enough for Boonsboro to beat Bohemia Manor, however, and win the program's third title in seven years.
Schmidt's 16:27 time on the modern Hereford course is fifth-fastest among Western Maryland runners since the course was introduced in 2014, and his overall three mile personal best ranks sixth.
College: Hagerstown Community College
Personal Bests: 15:56 5K, 19:29 6K, 27:37 5M
Schmidt ran 15:56 at the 2019 Blazers Twilight Meet as a freshman at HCC.
All-Region Second Team
Cody Bowman (Williamsport High School, Class of 2013)
Bryson Brawner (Smithsburg High School, Class of 2020)
Levi Cameron (Northern Garrett High School, Class of 2015)
Ryan Hebb (Southern Garrett High School, Class of 2018)
Garrett Kercheval (Smithsburg High School, Class of 2019)
Nathaniel McKinsey (North Hagerstown High School, Class of 2019)
Sean Snyder (Boonsboro High School, Class of 2014)
Girls Runner of the Decade: Haley Wright (Boonsboro High School, Class of 2016)
Photo by Tim Dillistin
Personal Bests: 17:53 3M, 18:41 5K
Medals: 3 county, 2 region, 1 state
Wright enjoyed a tremendous freshman track season at Boonsboro in 2013 - finishing third and fourth at states in the 3200 and 1600, respectively - and joined the cross country team the next fall. Her 2013 fall season included a 19:15 season best performance at the Oatlands Invitational and a 17:53 personal best effort at the Frank Keyser Invitational. After winning a county title and finishing as the MVAL runner-up, Wright finished fourth at both regionals and states. In 2014, Wright took the next step and was one of the top runners in the state all the way through October. In fact, she didn't lose a single race, and her victories included the Frank Keyser and Bull Run invitationals, as well as the conference, county and regional championships. Only a down race at the 2A state championships, where she finished fourth, interrupted her perfect season. Wright wrapped up her season with a 47th-place finish at the Foot Locker Northeast regional. She came back onto the course as a senior seeking her first individual state title (after a slew of runner-up finishes on the track), and the team's move back down to the 1A classification worked in her favor. After finishing 15th at the Oatlands Invitational, Wright did not lose a race through the rest of the season - including the state meet. Not only did she win the individual title by nearly 75 seconds, but Wright also led Boonsboro to a hard-fought team title over Smithsburg (kicking off a four-year stretch of 1A team titles for the Warriors).
Wright's 18:41 5K led all Western Maryland runners throughout the decade, and only her teammate Meggan Grams clocked a faster three mile time. Across the entire state only Juliette Whittaker and Abigail Green ran faster three mile times than did Grams as a sophomore. She is the only girl from the region to have finished among the top four at states three different times. Wright's 19:05 time on the post-2013 Hereford course is by far the fastest time a Western Maryland runner clocked on the course; in fact, only Mountain Ridge's Molly Offstein came within a minute of her time. She was also just one of two girls during the decade to break the 19-minute barrier at Liberty High School.
College: University of Alabama
Personal Bests: 14:05 4K, 17:47 5K, 21:41 6K
Wright first competed at the SEC championships in the fall of 2018, finishing 124th. The next fall, Wright ran both her 5K and 6K personal bests while finishing 65th at both the conference championships and NCAA DI South regionals.
Alexis Devault (Mountain Ridge High School, Class of 2013)
Photo by John Roemer
Personal Bests: 19:42 3M, 20:40 5K
Devault debuted for the Miners as a junior in the fall of 2011 and wasted no time making an impact. She was the team's top runner in both 2011 and 2012 and helped lead them to third-place finishes at the 1A state meet both years, the best in the young program's 14-year history. By mid-September Devault had clocked a 21:17 5K and a 21:56 performance at the Bull Run Invitational. Her breakthrough race came at the Frank Keyser Invitational where she ran 19:46, finishing tenth in the small school race. After winning the Allegany County title she placed third at the 1A West regional meet and fourth at states. The next fall, Devault opened up her season with a 20:51 three mile performance at the Interstate Classic and went on to pick up wins at the Broadford and Mountain Ridge invitationals. At the Frank Keyser Invitational she shaved a couple of seconds off her 2011 time, setting a three mile personal best. After placing fourth at the regional meet, she improved to third place at states, leading the Miners to their second consecutive third-place performance in the team standings.
Between 2010 and 2012 only two girls from the region ran faster at Hereford High School than Devault's 20:25 time. Throughout the decade only three Boonsboro girls (Wright, Camryn Harper and Sarah Zielinski) joined Devault in finishing among the top four at the state meet multiple times.
College: Frostburg State University
Personal Bests: 16:41 4K, 25:24 6K
Devault ran her 6K personal best at the 2014 Capital Area Conference championships, where she placed 52nd.
Meggan Grams (Boonsboro High School, Class of 2015)
Photo by Brandon Miles
Personal Bests: 17:36 3M, 18:54 5K
Medals: 1 region, 1 state
For the first two years of her high school career Grams competed at Williamsport High School, where she finished 31st and 36th at the 2011 and 2012 2A West regional meets. That spring, however, Grams took off and finished second at the 2A outdoor state meet in the 1600. She took her breakout performance along with her to Boonsboro in the fall of 2013, where she clocked an 18:29 three mile performance at the Interstate Classic in her second race of the year (more than a minute and a half faster than her previous personal best). After an eighth-place showing at the Oatlands Invitational the next weekend, Grams really took off, not to be stopped for the rest of the season. Her wins included a dominant 17:36 performance at the Frank Keyser Invitational (where she and Wright went 1-2) and a clean postseason sweep of conferences, regionals and states, where only one other runner (Hereford's Sarah Coffey) finished within 15 seconds of her. It was the second year in a row a Boonsboro girl won an individual state title, following 2012 1A champion Sarah Zielinski. Grams' senior cross country campaign did not get underway until the end of September when she ran 19:57 at the Frank Keyser Invitational, and after the MVAL conference championships on October 17th her season was over; however, Grams would come back strong on the track and clock personal bests in almost every event and win the 2A outdoor 800 title.
Grams' 17:36 led all Western Maryland runners throughout the decade and ranked ninth among all Maryland runners. Her 19:08 time at the Oatlands Invitational was eighth-best among Maryland runners during the decade. She and B-CC's Caroline Beakes are the only two individual state cross country champions (with the exception of 2019 champions Daylie Younker and Erin McQuitty) who did not run at another cross country state meet. At the 2013 state meet only three other girls across all classifications ran faster than Grams' 18:54 winning performance.
College: Eastern Kentucky University
Personal Bests: 17:34 5K, 21:35 6K
At Eastern Kentucky Grams competed at the Ohio Valley Conference championships four times, finishing seventh and ninth in 2017 and 2018, respectively. It was at the 2017 championships she ran her 5K personal best. In 2017 she also competed at the NCAA DI national championships for the only time in her career, placing 218th. She clocked her 6K personal best in her final cross country race at Eastern Kentucky, the 2018 NCAA DI Southeast regional.
Madison Offstein (Mountain Ridge High School, Class of 2014)
Photo by John Roemer
Personal Bests: 18:59 3M, 19:46 5K
After running track as a freshman in the spring of 2011 Offstein joined the Miners' cross country team in the fall, forming a 1-2 punch with another newcomer Alexis Devault to form one of the best 1-2 punches in the 1A classification. Offstein competed on and off throughout the fall, but she placed sixth at the 1A West regional meet and then went on to finish 16th at the state meet. Offstein did not run during the 2012 fall season but was the outdoor state meet runner-up in the 800 in the spring, setting up a return to the course as a senior. Now in the 2A classification for the first time in school history, Madison and her sister, Molly, gave Mountain Ridge once again one of the best duos in the state. In back-to-back weekends, Madison ran 5K and three mile personal bests at the Spiked Shoe and Frank Keyser invitationals, respectively. She was the runner-up (to her sister) at both the AMAC and Allegany County championships, although a late-season dip saw her finish just 11th and 29th at the regional and state meets, respectively.
Both her three mile and 5K personal bests rank among the top seven on the Western Maryland all-decade leaderboard. At the 2013 state meet only four others Western Maryland girls (including her sister Molly) ran faster than her 20:33 time.
College: Princeton University
Personal Bests: 14:18 4K, 17:59 5K, 21:00 6K
Offstein ran her 6K personal best as a junior at the 2017 Paul Short Invitational. In both 2017 and 2018 she competed at the Ivy League championships, finishing 26th and then 14th. As a senior Offstein finished 11th at the NCAA DI Mid-Atlantic regionals and helped Princeton qualify for nationals, where she placed 177th.
Molly Offstein (Mountain Ridge High School, Class of 2016)
Photo by Lisa McArthur
Personal Bests: 18:37 3M, 19:23 5K
Medals: 2 conference
Offstein joined Mountain Ridge's cross country team as a sophomore in 2013, joining her sister Madison in forming one of the better duos in the state for the majority of the fall. In September alone she won three invitationals and at the end of the month she set a three mile personal best at the Frank Keyser Invitational. She won the first of her championship season medals at the AMAC Championships, and her third-place finish at the 2A West regional meet helped Mountain Ridge edge South Carroll in the team standings and grab the final state meet qualifying spot. At states, she placed sixth, running the sixth-fastest time (19:33) of any sophomore across all four classifications. In 2014 Offstein opened her season with a slew of fourth-place finishes, including the Interstate Classic and Frank Keyser and Bull Run invitationals. After winning her second consecutive conference title Offstein placed fifth at regionals and ninth at the 2A state meet. As a senior Offstein placed sixth in the small school race at the Bull Run Invitational and won a third straight Allegany County championship, although she did not win a third straight AMAC title. Her final race of the season was a 13th-place finish at the 2A West regional meet. Offstein did come back strong during her indoor and outdoor senior track seasons, winning two individual state titles.
Among all Western Maryland runners, Offstein's 19:23 5K ranks fourth throughout the decade, and her 18:37 three mile personal best fifth. Along with Haley Wright, Offstein is currently the only other runner from the region to have run under 20 minutes at the post-2013 Hereford cross country course. She was the only Maryland runner to win the girls' individual AMAC title over the course of the decade (all of the other winners hailed from West Virginia). Behind Offstein, Mountain Ridge won the program's only two AMAC conference team titles in 2013 and 2014.
College: Elon University
Personal Bests: 18:50 5K 22:48 6K
Offstein ran her 5K and 6K personal bests as a freshman at Elon in the fall of 2016, and placed 49th at that year's Colonial Athletic Association's championships. That spring, however, Offstein was seriously injured when struck by a car while running on campus, tragically ending her running career and seriously threatening her life. Everyone at MileSplit and in the Maryland running community continues to wish for Molly's full recovery in the years ahead.
Emily Ward (North Hagerstown High School, Class of 2014)
Photo by Don Rich
Personal Bests: 18:26 3M, 19:24 5K
As a freshman at North Hagerstown, Ward clocked a three-mile personal best of 20:42 but did not qualify for the state meet individually or with the team. That spring Ward ran 5:25 in the 1600, foreshadowing what was to become a breakthrough sophomore season on the course. In just her second race of the season she won her first major race at the Brunswick Invitational, breaking the 20-minute barrier for the first time. Less than a month later she cracked 19 minutes for three miles at the Frank Keyser Invitational, and followed it up with third-place finishes at conferences and regionals and a fourth-place finish at the 3A state meet (where she led the Hubs to their highest team finish (tenth) of the decade). In 2012, Ward defended her Brunswick Invitational title and also picked up another win at the Don Stoner Invitational. She recovered from a sixth-place finish at the MVAL championships and beat out Urbana's Sarah Askine for runner-up honors at the 3A West regional meet. At the state meet, she placed seventh, even though she ran ten seconds faster at Hereford than she had as a sophomore. As a senior in 2013, the only race at which Ward finished lower than fifth was in the large school race at the Frank Keyser Invitational, where she also set her three mile personal best. After not competing at the MVAL championships Ward came back strong to place third at the regional meet, and in her final high school cross country race she broke back into the top five at the 3A state championships.
Ward's three mile personal best ranks fourth on the Western Maryland all-decade leaderboard behind only Boonsboro's trio of Meggan Grams, Haley Wright and Sarah Zielinski. She is also one of just four runners from the region with three top-seven finishes at the state meet, and the only one to do so in the 3A classification (North and South Hagerstown are the only two schools from the region to compete in the 3A classification at any point over the past decade). Her 19:09 time at the Brunswick Invitational ranks fifth in the meet's history since 2010.
College: La Salle University
Personal Bests: 14:41 4K, 18:23 5K, 22:30 6K
Ward ran her 6K personal best at the 2015 Paul Short Invitational. The next fall she competed for the only time at the Atlantic 10 conference championships, where she finished 45th and clocked her 5K personal best. That fall she also competed for the only time at the NCAA DI Mid-Atlantic regionals, placing 134th.
Sarah Zielinski (Boonsboro High School, Class of 2013)
Photo by Jeffrey George
Personal Bests: 18:25 3M, 18:50 5K
Medals: 3 county, 2 region, 1 state
Zielinski started running in 2009 for a Boonsboro team that had not recorded a podium finish at the state meet since seven straight (including four titles) from 1989-1995. Zielinski was the team's top runner as a freshman that year, running a 21:10 three mile season best and finishing 13th at the 1A state meet. In 2010 Zielinski opened up her season with a win in the small school division of the Interstate Classic; four weeks later came her breakout race, a 19:28 three mile effort at the Frank Keyser Invitational. Later that month she captured both Washington County and MVAL Antietam titles and was the runner-up at the 1A West regional meet, helping lead Boonsboro back to the state meet as a team for the first time since 2004. Both Zielinski and the team placed tenth at the 1A state meet. In 2011, the Warriors' program was gaining serious steam behind the now-junior Zielinski, who finished no lower than third in any race throughout the season; that included runner-up performances at both the Bull Run and Frank Keyser invitationals, and she ran a big 18:28 three mile season best at the latter. She finished third at the (combined) MVAL championships and won another county title before adding her first regional title in early November. At the state meet, Zielinski (who finished second overall) and the Boonsboro girls gave the three-time defending state champions from Bohemia Manor their toughest test in three years but fell 16 points short of taking down the Eagles. In 2012, Zielinski took yet another step forward; she only lost two races all season (finishing second in each) and during her clean sweep of all four championship meets, no girl finished within ten seconds of her. She won the state title by over 30 seconds, and she led a Boonsboro team that did not qualify for states during her freshman year to the first of five 1A state titles in the next seven years. Her final high school cross country race was an 18:50 5K personal best performance at the NXR Southeast regional meet.
Zielinski's three mile and 5K personal best times both ranked third among Western Maryland runners behind fellow Warrior standouts Haley Wright and Meggan Grams. Her 19:48 performance at the 2012 state meet made her the only Western Maryland runner between 2010 and 2012 to break that 20 minute barrier at the old Hereford course. She was one of just five Maryland runners to break 20 minutes at the Mountain Run Invitational since 2010.
College: University of Maryland - Baltimore County
Personal Bests: 19:16 5K, 22:11 6K
Zielinski ran one season at the University of Maryland - Baltimore County, clocking her 6K personal best at the 2013 Salty Dog Invitational and placing 47th at the America East conference championships.
All-Region Second Team
Emily Alexander (South Hagerstown High School, Class of 2019)
Camryn Harper (Boonsboro High School, Class of 2018)
Lauren Johnson (Smithsburg High School, Class of 2012)
Erica Lindsay (Smithsburg High School, Class of 2017)
Phoebe Meehan (North Hagerstown High School, Class of 2021)
Ana Rhoten (Northern Garrett High School, Class of 2019)
Daylie Younker (Smithsburg High School, Class of 2023)