From left to right: Charlie Baar, Yakob Kelley and Patrick Donnelly (photos by Brandon Miles, Nolan Jez and Mary Ann Magnant)
With the MIAA set to hold a conference championship this season, we preview the other major private school conference championships for a potential cross country season. Previews include all teams in the conferences, including those from DC and Virginia.
Photo by Dan Loughlin
Throughout the entirety of the past decade the WCAC has been dominated by two teams: Good Counsel and Gonzaga. Over the past three seasons, however, a third team has been closing the gap on the champions from Gonzaga - St. John's College. They finished just ten points behind the Eagles last fall and, had it not been for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may have had their best opportunity at a WCAC title this century. The Cadets return seven boys who ran under 18 minutes last season, led by junior Matias Facchinato-Sitja (above), the fourth-place finisher at last year's meet.
Don't make the mistake of discounting the Gonzaga boys, however, as it's now been 13 years since they last finished lower than second at the conference championships. Losing three of their top four runners, including defending champion Cullen Capuano, will hurt, but the deepest team in the District will be a tough champion to fell should a conference championship materialize this year.
Photo by Brandon Miles
The 2019 IAC boys championship race featured two of the top runners in the DC area, Bullis senior Nick Karayianis and St. Albans junior Damian Hackett. With Karayianis now at the University of Virginia, Hackett (above) is the overwhelming favorite for a potential conference championship, and his 15:21 5K performance at the VA Elite XC Invitational earlier this fall only proves that he is in consideration for the number one spot in the DC area.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, haven't lost an IAC title since finishing second to Georgetown Prep in 2008. With four more returners having run between 17:04 and 17:58 last season, St. Albans figures to be not only the class of the conference once again, but perhaps a contender for a DCSAA championship (they finished in fifth in 2019, behind Gonzaga, St. John's, Woodrow Wilson and Sidwell Friends).
Photo by Craig Amoss
Sidwell Friends has owned the MAC since the fall of 2015, but could 2020-21 be the year that the Mighty Hoppers of Georgetown Day reclaim the top spot it held from 2010 through 2014? Aside from their top runner, Oliver Satola, they return the rest of their 2019 squad, featuring five boys at 17:49 or better.
The Quakers don't possess the returning depth of Georgetown Day, but a top returning trio of Micah Lachman, Wibb Marzilli and Jack Leonard give them what could be a group capable of sweeping the top three spots at the conference championships. Lachman (above), last year's runner-up, was one of the most actively consistent competitors at the Central Maryland XC meets this fall and is one of just two boys in the conference who returns a sub-17:00 season best from last year, along with Flint Hill junior Quinn Griffith.
Photo by EJ Trapsi
Who is the PVAC's top returning runner on the boys side this season? All four of last year's top finishers were seniors, while the next three were either freshmen or sophomores. Meanwhile, Washington Christian's Bryce Isler (above) did not compete at the conference meet last year but owns the top returning 5K time (18:14) in the PVAC. What is more apparent is that the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day boys would be favorites entering a hypothetical cross country season, chasing their sixth conference title in the past seven years.