Gelfand, Whittaker Kick Off Fall Season With A Bang

Photo by Brandon Miles

On Sunday, Bullseye Running and the Central Maryland Youth XC Association held its first open cross country race of the fall season at Utica Park in Frederick (the site of the Hood College Invitational). While it was just the first of six consecutive weeks of racing (not including the meets held by Charm City Run or the track meets hosted by Bullseye Running) it provided plenty of fast times and storylines to kick off what could be an action-packed fall season.

The top times on the boys and girls side, set by Severna Park's Jake Gelfand and Mount de Sales' Juliette Whittaker, respectively, already rival some of the top times of the past decade. Gelfand became one of the state's top runners last year as a junior; he finished third at the 4A state championship to lead the Falcons to a state title and his 15:35 5K season best was second among all returners (behind only teammate Carson Sloat). His 14:39 time on a course reportedly right around 2.98 miles still puts him well under the 15-minute mark for three miles, and Gelfand looks poised to become the next elite Falcons runner behind the likes of Ryan Forsyth and Garrison Clark.

Meanwhile, we last saw Juliette Whittaker compete at the Fastrack Last Chance Meet in New York on February 28, where she ran a state-record 2:03.01 800. Her 17:01 runaway victory on Sunday puts her right back where she was as a sophomore, when she kicked off the cross country season with a 17:23 three mile performance at the Seahawk Invitational. Her 17:16 5K personal best last season led Maryland, and Whittaker proved that she belonged in the conversation for top returning distance runner in the nation after placing 13th at Foot Locker Nationals last December.

Behind the top two runners, each of the fields were exceptionally deep and quick considering Sunday was the first chance for true race action for most athletes in over six months. Three more girls ran 18:00 or quicker, including 4A standouts Nimrit Ahuja of Howard and Mollie Fenn of Broadneck. On the boys' side, Oakland Mills senior Baidy Ba joined Gelfand under the 15-minute mark, and Severna Park's Carson Sloat and Centennial's Antonio Camacho-Bucks just missed at 15:03 and 15:05, respectively. Severna Park featured five of the top nine runners, all running under 15:40, setting them up well for a 4A state title defense in the spring.

MileSplit will be on-site at next weekend's Central Maryland Youth Series meet in Damascus.