Hereford senior Emily Konkus is the reigning 2A state champion and certainly is aiming to go out as a winner again on her home course on Saturday, but she should be seriously challenged by two legit runners with state title credentials already in River Hill sophomore Faith Meininger and Poolesville senior Nandini Satsangi.
Konkus has been in great form though for championship season including a 19:09 personal best 5K victory to repeat as Baltimore County Champion last month. She had won last year's county meet in 19:21 on the same course before going onto winning the 2A state race in a time of 19:40 at Hereford, so expect an even faster winning time this weekend.
Meininger was the 2A South Regional champ last week, while as a freshmen won a pair of state titles on the track in the 1600 indoors and 3200 outdoors. She finished 3rd in the elite race at Bull Run Invite earlier this season with a time of 19:48 at Hereford. She's been one of the best runners and finishers out of Howard County over her first year and a half of high school.
The 2A West Regional champ Satsangi has also won a pair of past state titles on the track in the 3200 meter run, but is seeking her first state title in cross country as a senior at Poolesville. One of Satsangi's best races this season was running 18:09 for 3 miles to win the Frank Keyser Invitational at Boonsboro High School last month. In that race, she decisively defeated her top 2A competition in Konkus (2nd, 18:24) and Meininger (3rd, 18:36). Her best state cross country finish ever dates back actually to her freshmen year at Poolesville when they were in the 3A classification and she finished as a state runner-up with a time of 19:45.
Other individuals to also keep an eye on include Bayside Conference champion Molly Connelly of Kent Island, 2A South runner-up Sydney Friedel of Calvert, a duo of Hereford freshmen in Piper Lentz and Caroline Benda, and two of Carroll County's best in Kathryn Hopkins of Winters Mill and Danielle Firlie of South County. Firlie won the small schools race at Bull Run Invite earlier this season, while Hopkins was a top 10 finisher in last year's state meet race.
The Hereford girls appear to be rolling on all cylinders and ready to maintain their streak of state title dominance in 2A. Led by defending state individual champion Konkus and reloaded by the instant impact of freshmen such as Lentz and Benda has Hereford looking a squad who could win by a margin of 60-70 points range or greater. Hereford has a 5K team average under 20 minutes for their top 5 runners this season, which most of the other top teams in the 2A classification hover around a 21 minute average instead.
Top challengers for them could come out of the 2A South Region between Calvert and River Hill, who had a very competitive battle of their own against each other in their regional face off last Thursday. Only 7 points separated those two teams and should have two low scorecards among their top runners between Sydney Friedel for Calvert and Faith Meininger for River Hill.
Out of the 2A West Regional, champions Poolesville as well as the next two placing teams Oakdale and Middletown could also contend for top 3 state meet finishes.
Virtual meet projections and pre-meet rankings for the 2A girls race heading into this weekend's MPSSAA State Cross Country Championships at Hereford High School.