2023 Maryland XC State Meet Recap / Analysis

The MD XC State meet was full of excitement, fast times, and close finishes. Check out all of the results from the links below and read about what we thought our top moments and highlights were below. 

RESULTS: 1A | 2A | 3A | 4A

Abert Einstein Boys Win 4A

This was easily the biggest upset/surprise from the meet. The Einstein boys have had a good season, but nobody thought they had the firepower to hang with some of the top 4A schools such as Winston Churchill, Walt Whitman, Urbana, and Crofton. The Titans won the 4A title doing two things well, having a strong number 1 and a strong number 5, a formula that wins most meets. Patrick Mozden ran 16:34 for 6th overall (4 team points). Patrick has had a strong season this year but this was easily his best race of the year. The Titan's 5th runner, Henry Schwartz, ran 17:38 for 43rd place (38 team points) which was the best #5 runner of any team. When you have a strong 1 and the best 5, it's not a surprise they walked away with the title

Looking back, there may have been some writing on the wall that Einstein could pull this off. They won the 4A North with 23 points and put 6 in the top 9. People (including MileSplit) may have overlooked that dominant win due to the 4A North division being much weaker this year. They also won the 1-270 Rush Hour Rumble about a month ago, beating host Urbana, one of the pre-race favorites, and eventual Carroll County champs Manchester Valley. While they finished 4th at Moco Champs, their 5k average was only 14 seconds and 12 seconds behind Walt Whitman and Winston Churchill, a gap that is close enough to close 2.5 weeks later at the state meet. Running with a little chip on their shoulder, the Einstein boys pulled off one of the bigger upsets in recent years. 

(Watch Albert Einstein's boys team talk about their State winning race)

3A Boys lived up to the Hype

5 of the top 9 ranked teams in the state battled for the 3A title. Towson was the favorite heading in but needed all 5 to run well to take home the title, and that's exactly what they did. Kieran Mischke raced alongside Howard's Joey Ensor for the majority of the race and was able to keep enough distance between him and Ensor at the finish to take home the individual win. Evan Cline had a great race and placed 5th. Towson's number 5, Theodore Brown, was the first #5 runner from any team to cross the line. Towson went on to place 1-5-15-25-26 for a total of 72 points, 15 ahead of Severna Park.

While certainly wanting to win, Severna Park still raced very well. They were led by Taylor Jarvis who placed 3rd overall. The Falcons placed 3-10-20-23-31 and did not show a weak link through their top 5, they were just beaten by a better team. 

The biggest surprise might have come from Howard, who scored 92 points, only 20 back from Towson and 5 from Severna Park. The Lions had strong runs from Joey Ensor (2nd), Max Vom Saal (10th), Rayyan Dheini (14th), and Amadeus Davis (24th). Those four have run well all year but it was freshman Johnathan Harrington who was the Lion's #5 runner, who ran a PR of 17:47 for 50th.

Towson averaged 16:41 for its 1-5 average, Severna Park 16:53, and Howard 16:50. In most other years, regardless of classification, all three teams would be state champions. 

Chopticon and Thomas Wootton who were also in contention coming into the meet, did not perform as well as they would have probably hoped. Wootton, the Montgomery County Champs, and 3A West champs struggled more than Towson, Severna Park, and Howard over the hilly 3-mile course. Their top three did go out strong and score 7-12-18 team points, however, their 4-5 who have been strong in previous meets struggled more and scored 43 and 56 points, resulting in them placing a distant 4th. Chopticon, who has had a very strong top 3 this season only went 6-27-37 for those three, totaling 70 points before adding in their 4-5. They needed to score 40-45 points with those 3 to make things interesting. 

So Many Close Individual Finishes

Gregory v Blodnikar - Elena Blodnikar was the defending 4A Champ, Caroline Gregory won the 3A Championships 2 years ago and this year her team moved up to the 4A Classification. There were several girls coming into the race who had the potential to win however it was these two that broke away after the dip. Blodnikar surged through the cornfield and had an 8-second advantage over Gregory at the 2-mile mark. Gregory however made sure to keep it close and after coming back up the dip started to close the gap. With about 300m to go Gregory surged past Blodnikar putting about 10m on her and fought to stay in front during the final stretch. Blodnikar used the last downhill to try to catch Gregory but came up 1 second short, 18:30 to 18:31. Both of those times were the fastest two of the day and the 6th and 7th fastest all-time at the state meet. 

(Watch Caroline Gregory talk about her State Win)

Tsedeke vs Partlow - James Partlow (Thomas Johnson) was a huge favorite coming into this race. The senior has national meet hopes and ambitions, and on paper was 30+ seconds ahead of the next competitor. Tsedeke Jakovics (Old Mill) has had a strong season but has always run better on flat courses compared to hillier ones. He really struggled at Bull Run, running 17:15 earlier in the year. He did win the 4A East regional in a very quick time of 15:24, but the flat Chesapeake course and Hereford could not be any more different. The race started very controlled as there was a pack of 15-20 boys who came through the mile together. However, as they went down the dip Parlow and Jakovics broke away from the pack. While most people expected Partlow to gradually pull away, that never happened and Jakovics was right on his heels coming up the dip and as they entered the final 400m. Partlow did show his strength in the last 400 as he did put a little distance coming up the final hill and unleashed a major kick over the last 150. Jackovics didn't have enough in the tank to keep hanging on but ran an amazing race. Partlow finished with a time of 15:39 to Jakovics 15:44. Patlow's final mile, which includes the dip, was a blistering 4:52. Jakovics ran 4:57, the two fastest of the day. 

(Watch James Partlow talk about winning the 4A Championship)

Colson vs Snider - Freshman Taylor Colson (Century) has had a strong season but she didn't really start showing how good she was until the last few weeks. She won the Carroll County Championships and then beat a strong field in the 2A West Regional. Sylvia Snider (Hereford) has been one of the best runners in the state all year and was able to race on her home course. Both runners were in the lead pack as the race began, along with Rebekka Hillier (Hereford), and Riley Herdsen (Centennial). Both broke away during the maze and separated themselves as they came back up the dip. Snider stayed right with Colson but was not able to find the extra gear to get by her at the end. Colson ran 18:51 to Sniders 18:55. 

(Watch Taylor Colson talk about her winning race)

Penkala vs Marks - Four boys broke away early in the 2A boys race, Eric Penkala (Southern-AA), Ben Marks (Queen Annes), Henry Hopper (Wilde Lake), and Ryan Hartranft (Century). All 4 runners have had very strong seasons and a case could be made for any of the 4 winning this race. They were together for the first 2 miles when Penkala and Marks broke away and raced together over the last mile, but it was Penkala who outkicked Marks 15:47 to 15:48 to win the 2A title. Both times are in the top 15 all-time marks for the State Meet. The best part is that both are juniors and will get to race again next year!

(Watch Eric Penkala talk about his winning race)

Carter Brotherton May Have Had The Best Performance.

Carter Brothern (Great Mills) easily won the 3A girls classification. She broke away from a field that featured several very strong runners including Lauren Stine (North Hagerstown) and Claire Sivitz (Howard). At the 2mile split, she was 11 seconds ahead of Stine and 14 seconds clear of Sivitz and that lead kept growing over the last mile. She ended up winning by 28 seconds over runner-up Sivitz. We may never know how fast she could have run if she had competition over the last half of the course, but it's safe to say it probably would have been faster than her 18:33 and may have ended up being the fastest time of the day. The senior has committed to run for Johns Hopkins next year. 

Walter Johnson Wins by 1 Point

It doesn't get any closer than 1 point at a State Championship, but that's what occurred at the girl's 4A State race. Coming into the meet Walter Johnson, Frederick, and Bethesda Chevy Chase were the front runners, and all have had outstanding seasons. Walter Johnson looked the strongest after beating BCC at the Montgomery County Championships and beating Frederick at the 4A West Regional but Frederick gave them everything they could handle at States. The Wildcats were led by Megan Raue who placed 4th. Their top 5 placed 4-6-12-19-29 for 70 points. Frederick had outstanding runs by Caroline Gregory, placing first and Amelia Slagle placing 3rd. They ended up placing 1-3-14-25-28 for their top 5, scoring 71 points. It looks like it came down to Walter Johnson's 4th runner placing 19th, compared to Fredericks 4th who placed 25th, but with a 1-point win, you can try to find that one point in a hundred different places. Both teams had great runs and made for an extremely exciting race to watch.

Smithsburg Girls Get the Win

Smithsburg has been one of the top girl's programs in 1A over the last several years. However, when it came to the state meet they were unable to walk away with the State title. They finished 2nd both last year and in 2021. They also placed second in 2015. The last year they won was 9 years ago during the 2014 season. This year they left no doubt on who the top team is. Cora Genztel ran a beautiful race to separate herself from the pack after the dip and ran 19:43 for the win. Her teammate Michaela Gross placed second, upsetting Isabel DeVos, who was third and a pre-race favorite to win. They ended up placing 1-2-9-19-38 to score 69 team points, 19 points ahead of runner-up Harford Tech. 

(Watch Cora Gentzel talk about her and her teams win)

Beautiful Weather, Fast Times

You could not ask for a better a better day to have a State XC Championship. The temperature for the morning races was in the mid 40's and rose only to the mid 50's for the afternoon races. There was very little wind and the sun was shining most of the day. Although it did rain the day before, the course showed no signs of mud or slick spots. As a result of that, athletes and teams were able to race to some pretty fast times throughout the day. On the boy's side, there were 4 boys whose time placed them in the top 15. Those four are, James Partlow (Thomas Johnson) 2nd (15:39), Tsedeke Jakovics (Old Mill) 8th (15:44),  Eric Penkala (Southern-AA) 11th (15:47) Ben Marks (Queen Annes) 13th (15:48) and Kieran Mischke (Towson) 15th (15:50). There were 7 more boys who cracked the top 100. 

For the girls, there were 6 girls who broke into the top 25. Caroline Gregory (Frederick) 6th, (18:30), Elena Blodnikar (Leonardtown) 7th (18:31), Carter Brotherton (Great Mills) 8th (18:33), Taylor Colson (Century) 16th (18:51), Sylvia Snider (Hereford) 18th (18:55), and Claire Sivitz (Howard) 25th (19:01). There were 7 more girls who broke into the top 100 All-Time list. 

The current course has been around since 2014, and there have been 9 State races since then.