Howard junior Joseph Raudabaugh proved during the fall months that he is one of Maryland's most versatile runners. (Photo by Craig Amoss)
It may have felt like it at certain points during the past several months, but time didn't stop during 2020, and several athletes overcame the obvious challenges to not only maintain fitness, but reach new levels in their performances. These eight boys took advantage of the opportunities given to them and will be title contenders once sanctioned sports start back up.
Baidy Ba (Oakland Mills)
Ba was already a state-title-caliber distance runner at Oakland Mills before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He snagged a regional title during the fall as a junior and was right in the thick of the lead pack at the 2A state meet until the very end. During the winter, he clocked a sub-4:30 1600 and a 9:45 full two mile.
During the fall, however? Ba was a completely different runner coming into his senior season and would have likely won the 2A state title on the cross country course (he still very well may if the MPSSAA can contest a cross-country season this spring). His only loss of the in-state cross country season was a runner-up performance behind Jake Gelfand in which he clocked a 14:52 three-mile.
He capped off his season with two massive personal bests: a 9:13 3200 on the track at the MD Elite Two Mile, and a 15:30 5k on the course at the AAU National XC Championships (where he finished third).
Angelo Bowser (Old Mill)
Last winter Bowser was emerging as one of the state's top underclassman triple jumpers. His 42'8 personal best at the Anne Arundel County Championships netted him a runner-up finish. Without horizontal jumps at the indoor regional and state meets, Bowser's breakout was delayed to a spring season that never happened in an official capacity.
That didn't slow down his momentum. His 45'10 performance at the Chase Athletics Sprint Series meet on October 3 launched him straight up the Maryland leaderboards, as did his 21'11 mark in the long jump (he had not reached even the 19-foot mark in the event during the indoor track season). Those performances have Bowser set up to become one of Maryland's top jumpers over the course of the next two seasons.
Ian Higgins (Glenelg)
Through two seasons of running track at Glenelg, Higgins held personal bests of 12.01 in the 100 and 23.76 in the 200. It's safe to say that the 2020 outdoor season was a huge breakout for Higgins. He ran under 11.50 in the 100 and 23.50 in the 200 multiple times. On September 24 Higgins set personal bests in both events (11.12 and 22.75).
Even beyond the sprints were the gains in other events, such as the 400 (53.46) and long jump (20'10.50). In just a few short months Higgins improved to become one of the most consistent athletes in Howard County, and will be a factor for Glenelg in a potential 2021 outdoor season.
Judson Lincoln (Wilde Lake)
In the spring of 2019, Lincoln reached the upper tiers of state freshman leaderboards with his 51.19 400, but it was his 50.12 performance at the AAU Junior Olympics later that summer that marked him as a potential star. It was back at the AAU Junior Olympics this past summer that Lincoln made the next step, going 49.45 in the finals to win the 15-16 boys title in the 400.
It wasn't the end of Lincoln's sophomore season, either, as he backed it up with another sub-50 performance in October at a Bullseye Track Series meet and also clocked personal bests in the 100 (11.46) and 200 (22.48). Across the United States during the 2020 outdoor season, his 49.45 time was the tenth-fastest by a sophomore.
Sean Miller (Mount St. Joseph)
Coming off a junior season during which Miller ran 2:05, 2:43 and 4:39 in the 800, 1000 and 1600, Miller was a different runner during the fall months. His breakout performance came at the second Bullseye track meet, where he shaved a cool ten seconds off his previous personal best in the 1600 to beat out three others.
A month later he brought that time down to 4:26, thirteen seconds faster than his personal best heading into the season. He also clocked a 2:01 800 and a sub-16 minute 5k on the track. As Mount St. Joseph was part of one of the only leagues to have school-affiliated cross country action this past fall, Miller also got in three races on the course, lowering his previous 5k personal best from 17:45 to 16:42 and placing tenth at the league's unofficial private school championship race in November.
Aiden Neal (Manchester Valley)
Unlike some of the other names on this list, Neal is still only a junior this season, meaning a full senior year of running is still very much in the cards. Neal entered the 2020 fall season having run under 18 minutes just once on the cross country course, but it was clear from his first race that he was not the same runner.
He kicked off the season with a 15:29 three-mile effort on the fast course at Utica Park in Frederick. He was one of the many Bullseye Running members (along with two other on this list, Baidy Ba and Joseph Raudabaugh) who traveled down to Florida in early December for the AAU National XC Championships. There, Neal placed thirteenth, blowing away his 5k personal best with a 15:53 showing.
Joseph Raudabaugh (Howard)
Like his Bullseye Running teammate above, Raudabaugh is also just a junior this year. Having run 17:09 on the course as a sophomore, his transformation into one of the most consistent runners of the 2020 season was less stark, but still very much noteworthy.
He was one of the most active runners of the 2020 fall season, competing at six different cross country meets; he went under 16 minutes twice on three-mile courses before running 15:43 (good for eighth place) at the AAU National XC Championships.
It wasn't just the performances on the course, either. Raudabaugh set new personal bests in every event from the 400 through the 3200, establishing himself as having some of the best range of any runner in Maryland.
Adam Szatanek (Huntingtown)
Like Bowser further up on the list, Adam Szatanek was emerging as one of the better athletes in his class by the time the winter ended; back-to-back 40-plus-foot performances in the shot put highlighted his sophomore indoor season at Huntingtown. Prior to those two meets (the SMAC Championships and 3A East regionals) he had reached the 38-foot mark just one in two seasons.
Szatanek then returned in late October for the Urbana High School Boosters open meets and flashed potential of joining Huntingtown's recent legacy of outstanding throwers. He went undefeated in the shot put and discus at both meets, launching personal bests of 46'4 and 142'5 in the two events, respectively. Put into context: back in the spring of 2019, those marks would have been second and fourth, respectively, among sophomores in the state of Maryland.