Behind one of the country's top returning runners in Charlotte Turesson, Ella Gaul (left) and Katie Kaneko represent the best of the rest heading into the 2020-21 season in Montgomery County. Gaul spent last year as the latter half of a 1-2 punch along with Jenna Goldberg that nearly led Walter Johnson to a podium finish at the 4A state meet. Kaneko, meanwhile, has won the 4A North regional title in each of her first two seasons at Sherwood and has been a top-four finisher at the county meet in each of the past two years. The Wildcats figure to be the favorites for the county title heading into the spring while Sherwood will be seeking its third straight top-four finish at the meet.
Photo by Brandon Miles
Speaking of Turesson, she was nearly unbeatable on the course as a junior. The only Maryland athletes to beat her last fall were Juliette Whittaker and Jenna Goldberg - Maryland's representatives at Foot Locker Nationals. Although she finished a distant second to Goldberg at all three championship meets, she nearly took down Abigail Green's course record at Bohrer Park and ran the fifth-fastest time on the post-2013 Hereford course at the state meet. In fact, her times at both counties and states were each over a minute faster than the next underclassman in the race.
Photo by Brandon Miles
Already looking toward the next generation of Montgomery County runners? Of the seven freshmen throughout the state to break 20 minutes in the 5K last year, three of them hailed from MoCo, including Blair's Alexa Avila (left) and Wootton's Rebecca Vasconez. Vasconez was the only freshman medalist at last year's county meet, while Avila rebounded from a tough county meet (16th) to lead all freshmen (13th) at the 4A state meet.
Photos by John Roemer
The rising Northwood girls program still likely isn't yet deep enough to contend for the top spot in Montgomery County, but the Gladiators have one of the county's top returning trios heading into the year. Olivia Rosemond, Anaiya Bobo and Maya Ducker all finished among the top 20 at the Montgomery County championships and the top 35 at the 4A state meet. They cracked the top ten for the second consecutive season last year despite a 6:25 1-5 split. With four strong returners, it would only take one more emergence to elevate them into the top five.
Photo by Craig Amoss
Another team on the rise? How about Gaithersburg, led by rising juniors Devon Derrenbacher (left) and Alana Dyce-Giraud. After a drought that extended back to the early 2000s, the Trojans have qualified as a team for the 4A state meet in each of the past two seasons, placing 11th last season, and bring back each of their top four runners from that squad. 2002 was the last time Gaithersburg placed among the top ten teams at the state championships.
Photo by Mike Piotrowski
Whatever Whitman's varsity team looks like this year, it will certainly look much different than last year's team that won county and regional titles. That team was truly dominant, putting all seven runners among the top 26 finishers at last year's Montgomery County championships, but will also lose their top four runners (top three from the state meet). The good news? Few teams in the state can boast the same depth and continuity that the Vikings have fostered, as shown by the fact they still sit second in the returning virtual meet rankings in Montgomery County.