Photo by John Roemer
In the boys' CMC preview article we highlighted the fact that the upper portion of last year's field was very senior-heavy. The opposite could not be more true on the girls' side, as only two of the top 20 finishers from last year's race graduated in the spring. Leading the way by 12 seconds last fall was Middletown's Erin McQuitty in what was the first of her three championship victories (she went on to win both Frederick County and 2A state titles, becoming the first freshman to win an XC state title since C. Milton Wright's Haley Cummins won in 2016, and just the fourth of the decade).
Aiding in McQuitty's quest to defend her conference title is the fact that last year's runner-up (Urbana's Sara Jarman) was one of the two seniors among the top 20. McQuitty's teammate Eleanor Stafford is the only returning runner who finished within 30 seconds of McQuitty at last year's meet, and sets up a showdown between last year's top two teams in Urbana and Middletown.
Photo by Mike Piotrowski
Despite losing the aforementioned Jarman, the Urbana girls are still in very good shape entering 2020. That's because they featured four more runners who finished among the top ten at the conference championships last season, and all were either freshmen (Ivy Coldren, right, and Lula Masters, left) or sophomores (sisters Emily, above, and Karly McDonnell). In fact, going off three mile season bests, the Hawks only lose three of their top 20 runners from a season ago. The secret weapon could be senior Ella Auderset, who did not compete until mid-October last year (her first time running cross country) but still managed a 19:50 three mile performance.
Photo by John Roemer
McQuitty was not the only state champion to emerge from the Central Maryland Conference last season, and Daylie Younker's path to a state title may have been even more unexpected than McQuitty's. Younker ran indoor track for two seasons before coming out for cross country this past fall, competing mostly in the 500. It wasn't long, however, before she flashed her potential, clocking a sub-21 5K in mid-September and running 19:20 at the Frank Keyser Invitational in October. After a sixth-place finish at the conference meet, Younker went on to sweep counties, regionals and states, becoming the Leopard's first individual state champion in 34 years. After winning another state title on the track over the winter in the 3200, could Younker become just the second 1A girl in the past 12 years (joining Manchester Valley's Katie Leisher) to defend her XC state title?
Photo by Craig Amoss
Aubrey Schaffer placed fourth at last year's conference championships (as well as eighth at the 2A state meet), but without teammate Haley Ross Oakdale dropped to sixth place in the team standings. The good news for the Bears? They only lose one of their varsity runners from last year, Emily Baba (who only competed in one race), meaning that if Schaffer and Ross can form the 1-2 punch that they did in 2018 (when Ross and Schaffer finished eighth and 14th, respectively, at states) Oakdale could be poised for a big jump back into the top three of the conference.
Photo by Craig Amoss
While three straight seasons of podium finishes is an impressive feat for any team, the Brunswick girls were tantalizingly close to earning the school's first team XC title since 1993. After back-to-back second-place finishes behind Boonsboro in 2017 and 2018, it seemed like the Railroaders were poised to capture 1A's top spot last fall, but the Northern Garrett girls put together a fantastic performance at the state meet and beat out Brunswick by just five points. The Brunswick team is no stranger to close finishes, as they lost to Boonsboro by just six points back in 2017. Will 2020 be the year the team gets over the hump? They return six of their seven runners from last year's team; then again, so do the Huskies. Either way, a senior-laden Railroaders team should at least be in the running for yet another podium finish this fall.