All-Decade Cross Country Teams: IAAM

Photo by Jeffrey George

Girls Runner of the Decade: Ellie Gonzalez (Catholic High School, Class of 2014)

Personal Bests: 17:47 5K

Accolades: 4 conference (3 outright), 2 state

In the fall of 2010, Ellie Gonzalez - then a freshman at Catholic High School in Baltimore - jumped into the rivalry between Madeline Dulac and more than held her own, finishing second overall and first in the C Conference. Her sophomore debut at the 2011 Peter Geraghty Invitational (a second-place finish behind fellow Maryland legend Hannah Oneda) would be the last time in her cross country career that she lost to a fellow Maryland runner, barring the 2013 Team Nationals regional meet. She went under 18 minutes for the first time at the 2011 IAAM Championships, nearly a minute and a half faster than the A Conference champion, Holly Cook. She followed that performance up by winning the MD/DC Private School state title by over a minute (nobody in the large school division was within 90 seconds). By the time the 2012 season rolled around, Gonzalez was no longer under the radar - but it did not matter. An 18:08 5K at the Gunpowder Invitational set the tone for a season that saw her lose just once, a runner-up performance behind a competitor from the United Kingdom. She wrapped up her junior season by sweeping the IAAM Championships (by 40 seconds), the MD/DC Private School Championships (by 41 seconds) and the Battle of the Potomac (by 21 seconds). After three years of dominance against the state of Maryland, Gonzalez widened her scope to the national level as a senior in 2013. She was in customary form at the conference championships, winning by well over a minute, but the Team Nationals Southeast regional meet was where she really shined. It was perhaps Maryland's best-ever individual showing at a national qualifying meet, as B-CC senior Nora McUmber (17:34) grabbed the title with Gonzalez (17:47) following up in second place, each earning spots to compete at Team Nationals. (Dulaney's Isabel Griffith also finished fifth and earned a qualifying spot) In Oregon, Gonzalez cemented her position as one of the nation's top distance runners with a 12th-place finish, the highest by a Maryland girl in Team Nationals history.

Gonzalez's 17:47 5K was the ninth-fastest time of the decade and the second-fastest by an IAAM runner. Only McUmber and Richard Montgomery's Charlotte Turesson ran faster on the WakeMed Cross Country course (the site of the Team Nationals southeast regionals, along with the Great American and Adidas XC invitationals). Only Hayley Jackson, Maria Coffin and Abigail Green recorded finishes of 12th or higher on the national stage (all at Foot Locker Nationals). Her three outright conference titles made her the only girl to even win multiple outright IAAM titles this past decade.

Emily Craig (Maryvale Prep School, Class of 2017)

Photo by Kim Panebianco

Personal Bests: 19:18 3M, 18:33 5K

Accolades: 1 outright conference

Craig debuted for the Maryvale Prep Lions as a sophomore in the fall of 2014 and jumped into a conference that was suddenly wide open after Ellie Gonzalez graduated. She won the unseeded varsity race at the Georgetown Prep Classic in her first major race on Maryland ground, setting the stage for the conference meet. There, Bryn Mawr freshman Sophie Gitlin ran away with the title, but her departure for California (where she finished among the top ten at the CIF Finals all three years thereafter) would open the conference up even further going forward. Craig won her first conference title that winter in the 3200, then returned to the course in 2015 on fire, running 19:06 in a win at the Spiked Shoe Invitational. A third-place finish in a loaded girls small school varsity race at the Bull Run Invitational was her only loss, one she followed up with back-to-back sub-19 performances (including a 5K personal best at the Gunpowder Invitational). What had been a wide-open conference heading into the season belonged to Craig, who beat all comers by over 40 seconds at the conference meet that season. After sweeping the distance events at the 2017 indoor IAAM Championships, Craig returned in the fall as the first returning defending conference champion in three years. She won the Lake Forest Invitational to kick off the season, but unlike her junior year, did not win another race leading into the conference meet. That year featured one of the most tightly-contested races of the decade in the IAAM, as Craig fell five seconds short of Archbishop Spalding freshman Lacey Eden for the individual title.

During the three years the IAAM Championships were contested at Stevenson University, Craig's 18:55 time in 2015 was the fastest. Only Kelly Wesolowski ran faster on the course, which also hosts the Spiked Shoe Invitational. Ellie Gonzalez was also the only Maryland girl to run faster at the Gunpowder Invitational, where Craig clocked her 5K personal best.

Madeline Dulac (McDonogh School, Class of 2011)

Photo by Tim Patrick O'Dowd

Personal Bests: 18:05 3M, 18:46 5K

Accolades: 1 outright conference

Dulac and classmate Jo Baird (one of the seven second-team athletes on this list) started as freshmen at McDonogh in the fall of 2007, and by the end of their cross country careers had transformed the Eagles into IAAM A Conference champions. In 2007 Dulac was actually the third-fastest freshman at the conference meet, finishing seventh, behind her teammate Baird (second) and John Carroll's Elizabeth Tauber (third), with who Dulac would share a rivalry over the next three years. In 2008 Dulac broke the 20-minute mark for the first time at the Spiked Shoe Invitational, and finished third alongside Baird at the conference meet (20 seconds behind Tauber). That spring, Dulac really took off, capturing outdoor conference titles in both the 1600 and the 3200. She opened the fall of 2009 with a showdown against both Tauber and fellow junior Maura Linde and finished between the two at the Peter Geraghty Invitational, clocking a season-best time of 19:12. She won her first major cross country race at the Mercersburg Invitational, though she would finish just fourth at the conference meet (the McDonogh girls, steadily improving as a team, finished second behind Tauber and the John Carroll girls). The 2010 track season saw Dulac break out as one of the state's top distance runners, clocking a 5:02 1600 and winning four more individual titles on the track. Dulac reached a pivotal point of the 2010 cross country season by beating out Tauber in a dual meet on her home course, clocking an 18:05 three mile and setting off an unbeaten streak that carried throughout the rest of the season. She ran away with the IAAM title, and her first-place performance helped McDonogh capture the team title, beating out Archbishop Spalding by just five points.

Beginning in 2007, only Ellie Gonzalez was the only girl to run a faster time than Dulac's 18:46 at Oregon Ridge Park, the site of the IAAM Championships through 2013. Her 18:05 three-mile personal best was beaten only by Juliette Whittaker and was one of the top 35 times in the entire state over the course of the decade.

Samantha Facius (Mount de Sales Academy, Class of 2019)

Photo by John Roemer

Personal Bests: 19:00 3M, 18:58 5K

Accolades: 1 outright conference

After moving to the A Conference in 2012, it didn't take long until the Sailors had a contender for the overall conference title in Facius, who came to the team in the fall of 2015. A runner-up finish at the Mercersburg Invitational set the stage for the rest of her freshman season, which included a third-place finish at the conference meet that nearly resulted in a Sailors' team victory (they lost to Maryvale Prep by just four points). The next calendar year saw Facius only compete sparingly, missing the entire outdoor season and then competing in just the first and last races of the 2016 fall season (she still managed a fifth-place finish at the conference meet after not having raced since early September). That spring would be Facius' breakout campaign as she clocked a 4:58 1600 and won four individual conference titles. She carried that form into the next fall, firmly cementing her status as the top distance runner in the IAAM and one of the best in the state. She did not lose an in-state race all year and took down the defending conference champion Lacey Eden at the conference meet before beating Stone Ridge's Genevieve DiBari to win the Maryland private schools state title. In 2018, Facius was suddenly not the team's unquestioned top runner as Juliette Whittaker slowly emerged throughout the season. Facius was still a top-five finisher at every race, though Whittaker would eventually overtake her at the conference and state championships (Facius was the runner-up in both races). It did mean that Mount de Sales had its best team since joining the A Conference earlier in the decade and the Sailors, behind Facius and Whittaker, easily won team titles at both the conference and state championship meets.

Facius was one of just three girls in the IAAM (along with Ellie Gonzalez and Elizabeth Tauber) who finished among the top five at the conference meet in all four years and won at least one individual title. She is also one of just four private school girls to have broken 20 minutes on the new Hereford course.

Storrie Kulynych-Irvin (Key School, Class of 2023)

Photo by Craig Amoss

Personal Bests: 18:24 3M, 18:01 5K

Accolades: 1 outright conference

Kulynych-Irvin was known to the Maryland running community long before her debut at the Key School in 2019. The prior outdoor season, she won the 1500 at the DMV Meet of the Elite, running 4:45 to beat out Towson's Madeline Till (then a sophomore). Last year she exploded onto the season, running 18:24 in unseasonably warm conditions in the small school race at the Bull Run Invitational (beating out Juliette Whittaker's time from earlier in the day). Her big breakout was in the open race at the MileStat Classic in Virginia where she ran 18:01, one of the fastest freshman 5K performances in Maryland state history. In a showdown with Juliette Whittaker at the conference title, Kulynych-Irvin ran away from the Mount de Sales star, going 18:17 at McDaniel. Usually one season at the high school level isn't enough by itself to make our first team on the all-decade lists, but Kulynych-Irvin's 2019 fall season certainly breaks the mold.

No freshman over the course of the decade could touch Kulynych-Irvin's 18:01 5K time (Abigail Green came closest at 18:10). It was one of the top 50 freshman times in the country last fall. Her 18:24 time at Hereford is already the seventh-fastest in course history likely would have been much faster if not for the late September heat. Her 18:17 time on the McDaniel course at the IAAM Championships was the second-fastest of the decade, just four seconds behind Hannah Oneda's 18:13 mark from the 2011 Carroll County Championships. 

Elizabeth Tauber (John Carroll School, Class of 2011)

Photo by Tim Patrick O'Dowd

Personal Bests: 18:12 3M, 18:22 5K

Accolades: 2 outright conference, 3 state

After finishing third at the conference meet as a freshman in the fall of 2007, Tauber would claim the title of top distance runner in the IAAM as a sophomore in 2008 - a title she would not relinquish, at least on the cross country course, for more than two years. She first broke the 19-minute barrier at the Paul Short Run in early October of that year, establishing herself as the favorite for the IAAM race that she would go on to win by over 20 seconds. She then repeated as a champion at the MD/DC Private School state meet, beating out former champion Moira Ryan of Georgetown Visitation (DC). The 2009 cross country season was Tauber's most dominant; only runner-up finishes at the Bull Run and William and Mary invitationals marred what was an otherwise perfect ledger. She nearly repeated her performance from the previous year at the IAAM Championships (running an idential 19:26 time and winning by 19 seconds) and once again took on all comers at the private school state meet: Tauber ran 19:18, while no other girl even broke the 20-minute barrier. Madeline Dulac's breakout season on the track that season set up a season-long battle between the two as seniors in 2010. Tauber won convincingly at the Knights Invitational (where she clocked a three-mile personal best) but the tide began to turn at the Bull Run Invitational. Tauber was unable to defend her IAAM title for a second year in a row, dropping back to second in the A Conference (and third overall). However, Tauber bounced back in a big way at the MD/DC Private School State Championships, putting over 50 seconds of time between herself and the rest of the field to earn her third consecutive state title. Her final high school cross country race was a fifth-place effort at the 2010 Battle of the Potomac.

Tauber, along with Ellie Gonzalez, is one of just two two-time IAAM outright individual champions in the past dozen years. Her 18:22 5K personal best is the fourth-fastest by any IAAM runner this decade, and her 18:12 three-mile time third. She is the only three-time individual girls MD/DC Private School state champion in the modern iteration of the meet.

Juliette Whittaker (Mount de Sales Academy, Class of 2022)

Photo by Brandon Miles

Personal Bests: 17:23 3M, 17:16 5K

Accolades: 2 conference (1 outright), 1 state

In the MIAA counterpart to this list, we highlighted the senior/freshman duo of Mikey Singer and Dalton Hengst at McDonogh as possibly the decade's best on the boys side. On the girls side, Whittaker and Samantha Facius lay claim to the distinction: the pairing helped form one of the top distance medley relays in the country in the spring of 2019. The fall beforehand, Whittaker progressed throughout the year, eventually equaling and even surpassing Facius on the course as Mount de Sales swept its way through championship season. Whittaker finished no lower than fourth in any race as a freshman in 2018, beating out her senior counterpart in three of the team's final four races of the season. After a fantastic freshman season on the track that established Whittaker as one of the top young mid-distance runners in the country, she would establish herself as an all-around distance force to be reckoned with last fall, running 17:16 at the Paul Short Run and running away with the elite race at the Bull Run Invitational. Her only misstep (if it can even be called such) was a second-place showing at the IAAM Championships, although Whittaker still won her second consecutive A conference title and could have the opportunity to win four A conference titles over the course of her career (assuming the 2020-21 season is ever held in some capacity). She rebounded in a big way, however, at the end of the 2019 season, placing seventh at the Foot Locker Northeast regional meet, qualifying for nationals along with Walter Johnson's Jenna Goldberg (it was the third time in eight years that Maryland qualified multiple girls for a national championship from the same qualifying meet). There, Whittaker placed 13th - one spot behind Ellie Gonzalez's finish at Team Nationals in 2013.

Both Whittaker's three mile and 5K times topped the IAAM leaderboards during the 2010s, and her 17:16 mark was the fastest time in Maryland during that time. Whittaker's time at Foot Locker Nationals was the fastest time recorded by any of Maryland's qualifiers during the decade. Her 18:17 time at the Oatlands Invitational tied Abigail Green for the fastest Maryland time of the decade on the storied course, and she owns the course record at South River High School.

All-Conference Second Team:

Jo Baird (McDonogh School, Class of 2011)

Holly Cook (John Carroll School, Class of 2012)

Lacey Eden (Archbishop Spalding High School, Class of 2020)

Amy Egan (Bryn Mawr School, Class of 2017)

Sophie Gitlin (Bryn Mawr School, Class of 2018)

Hannah Mansbach (Glenelg Country School, Class of 2013)

Margaret Seybold (McDonogh School, Class of 2015)

Table of Champions:

2010 (Oregon Ridge Park): Madeline Dulac (McDonogh) - 18:46

2011: Ellie Gonzalez (Catholic) - 17:59

2012: Ellie Gonzalez (Catholic) - 18:19

2013: Ellie Gonzalez (Catholic) - 18:26

2014 (Oregon Ridge Park 3 Mile course): Sophie Gitlin (Bryn Mawr) - 18:37

2015 (Stevenson University): Emily Craig (Maryvale Prep) - 18:55

2016: Lacey Eden (Archbishop Spalding) - 19:05

2017: Samantha Facius (Mount de Sales) - 18:58

2018 (McDaniel College): Juliette Whittaker (Mount de Sales) - 19:37

2019: Storrie Kulynych-Irvin (Key) - 18:17