This Saturday, all eyes will be focused on the heated races on Hereford’s grueling 3.0 mile test of a course. Well, almost all eyes. Though they may be overlooked, the remaining teams will enter the grounds of Howard County’s Glenelg Country School looking to settle the score amongst themselves. The fight for Maryland-Washington Private School State Championships is on.
Despite not quite having full representation from Maryland’s private schools, nearly all competitive teams from the MIAA, IAAM, WCAC, IAC, ISL, MAC, and PVAC are making the journey to this year’s race to make it even more exciting than last year’s, which saw shocking upset wins by St. Alban’s Nick Bax and Georgetown Visitation’s Moira Ryan, and which saw Calvert Hall and Good Counsel assert themselves as the best private school men’s and women’s teams in the state. This year’s race also looks to be a bit faster time-wise, due to cooler weather this year as opposed to the searing heat and humidity which marred many times and performances of countless runners. Another important thing to consider is the small span in time between the MIAA Championship (Wednesday) and Private School States (Saturday). With such precious little time to recover between the two races, will the normally strong MIAA runners be too spent to bring their ‘A’ game this Saturday? Only one way to find out…
On the Men’s side, Nick Bax of St. Albans’ looks to repeat for the individual title after last year’s amazing performance which saw him steal the win from MIAA champ Rob Wetzel. Though struggling a bit this year compared to last year’s near-undefeated season, Bax still looks to be the favorite after his eye-popping 15:35 5K at Glory Days Grill Invitational earlier this year, as well as numerous other top-3 finishes throughout the season.
Bax’s strongest competition will likely be sophomore Cory Puffett of DeMatha, who dominated a strong WCAC field by almost 20 seconds on a very hilly course. Also in the running for the crown are Bax’s own teammate Brian Rooney, as well as MIAA champ Zach Sullivan of Archbishop Spalding, Grisha Iventichev of the Friends School of Baltimore, Calvert Hall’s power-duo of Tony Rowe and Chris Swisko, and WCAC runner-up Robert Patterson of DeMatha.
Since many private schools are on the small side, awards will be given to teams and individuals in the large and small school divisions. Since all the aforementioned individuals and teams are in the large school division, it’s worth noting that the small school individual champion could very well end up just like last week’s PVAC Championships, which saw Ollie St. John of Edmund Burke being very narrowly outkicked by St. Anselm’s Matt Moniz. They both should expect competition from The Heights’ 1-2-3 punch of Timothy Hadley, Timothy Vaughan, and Matthew Sushinsky, who have been running well all season.
Team wise, the MIAA’s Calvert Hall is looking to repeat after dominating last year’s race, as well as this year’s MIAA Championship. However, IAC Champ St. Alban’s is looking strong with a dominant top two, which could make things interesting for the defending champs. Don’t expect any remorse from Good Counsel and DeMatha, either. The WCAC’s first and second-best teams have been see-sawing back and forth all season, with this meet being one last chance to settle the score. Finally, Archbishop Spalding seems to be rounding into shape just in time after a surprising run for second place at the MIAA Championship, and is looking to be in the upper echelon of teams as well. In the small school race, The Heights easily looks to be the strongest having already defeated more than a few of their Large School opponents, and should have little trouble dethroning last year’s small school champion, St Andrews of Episcopal.
Last year’s Girls race was won by a senior-laden Good Counsel squad, and having graduated most of their top runners, the race for 2007 Maryland-Washington Private School Girls State Championship has been blown wide open. However, unlike last year’s race, this year will mostly be dominated by a deep IAAM field, which has a threatening presence in both the large and small school races.
…Well, with one exception, anyway. National Cathedral School of Washington, D.C. is one of the best and most underrated teams in the area, who fared very well against top Maryland powerhouses in Eleanor Roosevelt, Dulaney, and Hereford a few weeks ago at the Georgetown Prep Invitational. Having only a 15-second spread sets NCS apart from its Private School foes, as they easily won a deep ISL conference despite having an off-day.
After NCS, the “Notre Dames” (Notre Dame Prep and Institute of Notre Dame) should be strong, with each having won an IAAM Championship one week ago. Also up top should be Georgetown Visitation and Sidwell Friends, who both ran very close to one another at ISL Championships, with Sidwell getting the edge by a mere five points. John Carroll also looked well at IAAM’s thanks to its very strong top two who led their team to a second place finish in the A division.
The small school race will feature two strong teams, Glenelg Country School (who have the home-course advantage here), and Maryvale Prep, who placed 4th in the strong A division. However, GCS’s very strong top 3 should place them well ahead of Maryvale this time around.
Speaking of Glenelg Country School, Maeve Ricaurte looks to be the strongest individual runner this year after posting the fastest time of the day at IAAM Champs. However, the John Carroll duo of Erica Stasakova and Nicole Clarke look almost equally strong, and have both produced very fast times the entire season. This one’s going to be close, folks. Also, last year’s champion Moira Ryan of Georgetown Visitation will be looking to repeat after having been dealt a narrow 6-second loss at ISL Championships, and several other runners could be in contention for the crown, including Elizabeth Tauber (also of John Carroll), Sarah Steinmetz of Inst. of Notre Dame, Samantha Matthews of Glenelg Country School, and WCAC runner-up Ashley Seymore of Archbishop Carroll in Washington, D.C. One more important name to mention is Academy of the Holy Cross’s Chinyelu Asher, formerly of Eleanor Roosevelt, who, surprisingly, made a dominant run in the WCAC’s JV race, winning by nearly three minutes and running a time that would have placed her in the top 5 of the varsity race. Though it is uncertain why she ran in the JV race, surely Asher will represent her school well if she runs varsity and faces actual competition.
Nearly all Montgomery County private schools will be running this weekend, and MoCo’s finest private schools will reveal themselves. The men’s strongest team should easily be Good Counsel, which has established itself as one of the state’s best by competing well in big invitationals all season. After them looks to be Landon, which has greatly improved to run well in and out of state, and has toppled a very strong private school opponent in Gonzaga during a quad meet one week ago. Individually, GC’s Sam Rainard should be the top MoCo finisher in the race, followed by teammates Drew Collins and Ian McDermott. Landon’s Jack Strabo and Max Marinelli will likely run well also, along with the Heights’ Timothy Hadley, who should make a convincing run for small school individual champion.
The womens’ side is a bit murky, as Good Counsel and St. Andrews, last year’s respective large and small school team champions do not look strong enough to repeat. However, they still remain the best girls’ private school teams in MoCo, and the race between the two should be exciting, with Good Counsel having more firepower up front, but St. Andrews having greater depth and a tighter pack. Individually, the fastest private school girl in Montgomery County has been pretty much determined after Chinyelu Asher’s surprise transfer to Holy Cross, but the next-fastest could be claimed by any number of girls. Bullis’ Ellie Gass was the best small school finisher here last year, but has faltered a bit this season. She has been beaten by St. Andrews’ Lisa Nash, Yaa Addison, and Megan Nash at ISL Championships, who in turn need to run their best to topple Good Counsel’s top three of Stephanie Bardon, Katie Koenig, and Beth Conlon.