This weekend should prove to be the most eventful weekend of the season. Montgomery County private school Landon will host its annual invitational on its campus in Bethesda. Many schools will stay in state to run the Meade Autumn Classic or the Bull Run Invitational which was rescheduled from two weeks ago. The Bull Run Invitational should not be confused with the Glory Days Invitational at Bull Run Regional Park in Manassas, Virginia, which will host dozens of schools from all over the DC area. Still more of Montgomery County's best athletes will travel to New York City to compete in one of the most elite meets on the east coast, the Manhattan Invitational.
Mocorunning will have coverage of the Landon Invitational and Glory Days Invitational. Runningmaryland.com should have excellent coverage of the Bull Run Invitational. Any help with coverage of Manhattan or other meets is appreciated.
The seniors on the girls' team at St. Andrews Episcopal School in Potomac have won each of the first three team titles at the Landon Invitational since its creation in 2005. The St. Andrews girls will be returning again this year to try to make it a clean four year sweep, but could face a great challenge in ISL opponent Sidwell Friends. Sidwell beat St. Andrews handily at the William and Mary Invitational, but St. Andrews got them back at the Mercersburg Invitational.
Leading the way so far this season for St. Andrews has been senior Yaa Addison, but Sidwell's Marissa Repka got the best of her at Mercersburg and William and Mary. Holy Cross is slated to attend, and their star runner Chiny Asher is listed on the roster to compete, but Chiny sightings have been rare this year.
The boys' team title could go to the host team Landon, which has been having its best season in years, but like the girls race, Sidwell Friends could spoil the party. Sidwell appears at first glance to have a deeper 5-man pack, but the two teams have yet to meet this year so we won't know until they race. Leading the way for Landon has been Jack Strabo who has been running some of the top times in Montgomery County all season. The sophomore first year cross country runner John McGowan from Sidwell Friends should give Strabo a great race, just as he gave Potomac's Campbell Ross a great race earlier this season at William & Mary. The next closest competitor could be Tim Hadley of The Heights School who is also more than capable of clocking times in the 16's.
Bull Run Invitational
The Bull Run Invitational is Maryland's premiere invitational largely due to the fact that it is held at Hereford High School, the home of the MPSSAA cross country state championships. Unfortunately, the meet was rained out two weeks ago and rescheduled for this jam-packed weekend. While the meet is still returning about 75 teams, many Montgomery County teams that were slated to attend are opting for other meets. Blake, Holy Child, Northwood, Paint Branch, Poolesville, Rockville, and Walter Johnson's 'B' team will attend. Many of the programs from around Maryland are still entered to compete assuming they run their 'A' squads including Severna Park, South River, Archbishop Spaulding and Mt. Hebron.
Meade Autumn Classic
The Meade Autumn Classic typically posts some of the fastest times of the year, but with the course being moved again this year, coaches and competitors are not sure exactly what to expect. Wheaton, Kennedy, and Richard Montgomery will be making the trip from Montgomery County to Anne Arundel County on Saturday to race against the in-state competition.
Glory Days Grill Invitational
This year, B-CC, Einstein, Gaithersburg, Georgetown Prep, Good Counsel, Holton Arms, Magruder, Northwest, Quince Orchard, St. Andrews' boys, and Wootton will be heading south to run at the ultra-competitive, ultra-fast Glory Days Grill Invitational. Glory Days produced PR's for nearly every athlete who ran the full 5k course last year and can be expected to do the same this year with weather projected to be cool and dry on Saturday morning.
Individually, Georgetown Prep's Ramsey Chapin has only run two races this year, first clocking 16:40, then 16:12 last weekend, and will be looking to see how low he can go on the very fast course before the Georgetown Prep Invitational next weekend. Similarly, few in Montgomery County have been able to catch the Magruder duo of Nicolas Escobar and Chris Gregorski or the Gaithersburg duo of Antonio Palmer and Vikas Bhatia this season. Watch for all four of these athletes to post times close to or under 16 minutes, but as was shown last year, it will take a time close to 15 minutes to win this race.
Four of the top five finishing teams from the Oatlands Invitational Boys Varsity A Race will collide again at Glory Days including the meet favorites James Robinson and the WCAC's top team Gonzaga. Coming off a weekend without racing, Gonzaga may be able to catch Clarke County who beat them by just three points at Oatlands, but James Robinson and Potomac Falls seem well out in front of the others. Meanwhile, Good Counsel has had its ups and downs this season and recently went AWOL at the Octoberfest Invitational after a poor showing at Maymont. The last time Good Counsel skipped a meet, they came out with an impressive performance at the Magruder Invitational, so I wouldn't count Good Counsel out of a top five finish. Glory Days is also where the Northwest boys began to hit their strides last year and they could be poised to finally do what fans have been waiting for them to do all season.
Similar to the entire Northwest boys' team, Britt Eckerstrom has not had the season expected of her, losing to various Montgomery County athletes after being untouchable for much of her freshman year. She will return to Virginia where she had her best race so far this season at Oatlands and where she had one of her best races of the season last year, running 18:01 at Glory Days.
Gaithersburg's Abby Spitler has been nearly perfect this year, losing only to Potomac School's Anneka Wilson at William & Mary. Wilson, who is undefeated this season, will be considered the favorite once again in this race that should also feature Eckerstrom, Spitler, Wootton's Jessie Rubin, B-CC's Addie Tousley, QO's Aimee Moores, Lake Braddock's Liana Epstein, and Bishop O'Connell's Megan Fitzpatrick.
The Northwest girls' team has made it thus far in the season without losing to a Montgomery County team. They will try to hold onto that claim at Glory Days, but will really need to watch out for Quince Orchard who has scared them in each of their last two meets. Throughout this season, the QO girls have transformed from a rebuilding team, to a team with perhaps the best top 3 in the county as well as a strong 4-7. QO and Northwest will be up against Bishop O'Connell who beat them both convincingly at the Peter Geraghty Invitational in early September, as well as strong Virginia teams Lake Braddock and Thomas Jefferson.
I don't know much about the competition at Manhattan outside what I read on Dyestat and Milesplit, so I'll let you read that yourself: Dyestat Milesplit Boys Milesplit Girls.
It seems pretty silly to me to leave out the three best damn runners in Maryland: Solomon Haile, Andrew Palmer, and Graham Bazell. All three will be competing in the 'E' race, which Dyestat already deems to be the fastest of the meet without the acknowledgment of the Marylanders. It's going to have to be a record-breaker if Solomon is not even in the hunt for the win, as Solomon has been unchallenged and untouchable all season long. Palmer and Bazell, while proving to be more human than Haile, have shown that they can also be competitive on the national level.
Whitman and Sherwood will go head to head in the boys Varsity 'E' race. Walter Johnson and Damascus will go head to head in the boys Varsity 'G' Race. Damascus will be in the girls Varsity 'B' race, Walter Johnson will be in the girls Varsity 'A' race. Sherwood and Whitman will be in the girls Varsity 'D' race. The letters of the race do not indicate the ability level of the race.