In the early-to-mid 70's, the term "county meet" referred to the district meet. The district meets were the qualifying races for the state championship meet. The districts were divided into classifications: "AA" (largest), "A", "B", and "C" (smallest). Sometimes, the smaller classifications were combined into "BC" or "ABC" races. These district meets consisted of only Montgomery County schools and therefore the combination of district races was also referred to as the county championship meet. Multiple county champions were named each year - one for each classification. Those early county champions prior to 1977 were more akin to today's regional champions.|
In 1976, Coach Allan Bellman of Kennedy High School pushed for a true county championship meet. His idea was realized with all teams combined into a single race in a new county championship meet in 1977.
Unfortunately, the new championship meet was met with resistance from coaches who believed that it served no purpose and added one too many meets into the season schedule. Some coaches initially viewed the meet as a burden because it was scheduled so closely to the truly important state-qualifying meets. Many county teams opted not to attend the first several county championship meets, or they simply sent their junior varisty squads. By 1981, the Montgomery Journal described the county meet attendance as "dismal." (Niewiaroski, 1981, Oct. 30)
In 1981, attendance at the county championship meet became mandatory, but some teams still sent their JV squads (Niewiaroski, 1981, Nov. 2). Bellman continued to champion the meet despite the resistance. In 1985, he moved the meet to Calverton-Fairland Park closer to his school (Kennedy HS) and when he took the coaching job at Watkins Mill High School (1995) and newly opened James H. Blake High School in 1998, the meet followed him there, too.
As Bellman prepared to step away from coaching, Herb Tolbert of Gaithersburg High School picked up the reins and hosted the county championship meet almost every year since 2000. In 2001, the county meet which was traditionally held on a weekday after school moved to a Saturday morning which increased the championship feel of the meet and allowed more time for junior varsity races and awards.
Maybe some coaches' arms had to be twisted, or maybe the meet simply gained traction due to the awards, the media recognition, the bragging rights or simply the spirit of the competition. By the mid 1980's, the county championship meet was an annual tradition and the county crowns became coveted prizes for the elite athletes and teams.