Howard County Boys XC Preview

Photo by Craig Amoss

After running 9:50 as a sophomore in the spring of 2019, it was clear that Oakland Mills' Baidy Ba was on the verge of some kind of breakout. That came to fruition - and then some - last fall, as he won a 2A West regional title and was right in the mix for the individual state title at Hereford. He also ran 15:30 at the Howard County Championships, one of the fastest times ever clocked on the Centennial High School three mile course and kept 3A state champion Anish Nanjappa within his sights throughout. He headlines an extremely impressive class of 2020 in HoCo - one that features the 2-6 finishers from last year's county meet.

Photo by John Roemer

If the 2020-21 school year ever features a cross country season at some point, the Centennial boys are likely to be right in the thick for their second 3A team title in the past three years. Their 2019 team gave River Hill a fight at regionals (River Hill won by two) and states, where the Eagles medaled for the third consecutive year. They put four in the top 19 at states and all four are back this year, including the dynamic 1-2 duo of Jacob Cole and Antonio Camacho-Bucks.

Photo by Alicia Anthony

If something felt off about the 2017 and 2018 state meets, perhaps it was because the River Hill boys weren't winning a state title trophy. Since the school opened in 1996 the Hawks have won eight state titles (and finished second four more times), three of which came in succession between 2014 and 2016. After finishing in third and second, respectively, in 2017 and 2018, senior Anish Nanjappa led his team to a state title that was almost never in question; their narrow escape at the 3A East regional meet was partly due to missing one of their top runners. They put four in the top nine and six in the top 17 at last year's county meet, and though they graduate four members of last year's team, their perennial depth will make them a contender in any race should we get any sort of cross country season.

Photo by Mike Piotrowski

Whether or not he gets a chance to officially compete as a senior, Grayson Max Crockett has likely already cemented a legacy as the best distance runner in Marriotts Ridge's 15-year history. He registered top-five finishes at both the county and regional meets last year and placed 13th at the 3A state meet, the highest in team history. He also clocked a school-record 9:54 time in the 3200 last winter.

Photo by Keeley Olson

One of the teams possibly poised to make a big jump from 2019 to 2020 would have been Mount Hebron. The 2019 season was far from disappointing - they finished fifth at the 3A state meet - but returning five of their top six boys from that team meant they would have likely been ranked among our top 15 teams in our preseason power rankings (and still might if a cross country season materializes this year). The good news? Four of those five top returners were either sophomores or freshmen a year ago, meaning they still have one of the best 2021 outlooks in the state.