Falcon Girls Take Second In State-Championship Tune-Up
The Bull Run Invitational at Hereford High School is a valuable opportunity for top cross country teams in Maryland because it takes place on the same course that hosts the state championship meet.
That being the case, the Severna Park boys once again look like the team to beat.
The Falcons dominated the Elite Boys race on September 21, placing five runners in the top 10 and posting the best five-man average time in team history at Hereford, the state’s most challenging course, to win the team title handily. Jake Gelfand led Severna Park with a third-place finish in 15:56.80 behind runner-up Sam Keeny of South River (15:47.20) and race winner Anish Nanjappa of River Hill (15.43.80). The Falcons’ Carson Sloat (sixth), Nick Engleman (seventh), James Dennison (eighth) and Nick Benedict (10th) combined to give Severna Park a team score of 34, far outpacing runner-up River Hill (126), Dulaney (135), South River (168) and all 21 schools in the race.
The five-man average time of 16:21.88 was Severna Park’s best in any race at Hereford since 2014, when the course’s current configuration and 3.0-mile distance was set. With state titles at Hereford in 2014, 2017 and 2018; state runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2016; and Bull Run Invitational victories in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019, the reigning state champion Severna Park boys, already perennially powerful, appear to be getting stronger.
“I think it’s just consistency, basically, because we come out here every day from the beginning of the summer, and it’s just us pushing each other,” said Gelfand, a junior who has increased his training mileage to 55-60 miles per week in accordance with coach Josh Alcombright’s progression that runners follow as they advance in grade level. “All the way up from the bottom to the top, we have a great team, so much depth. It’s just pushing each other all the way up in our training regimen,” Gelfand said.
Nanjappa’s time set a new course record, but River Hill is a 3A school that will not compete directly with Severna Park at the state championship meet. Keeny and Arundel’s Tanner Piotrowski, who ran a 15.56.60 in the Large School Race on September 21, figure to offer the stiffest in-county competition for a potential individual state crown for Gelfand.
“That’s the goal,” said Gelfand, asked if he can challenge for an individual crown. “We’ve got Sam Keeny and Tanner Piotrowski. We’re really close. The goal is to just go there November 9 and see what we can do.”
James Glebocki (25th), Colin Leeds (27th), Collin Mullaney (31st), Ronan Byrne (32nd) and Chris Kirchner (46th) also ran for Severna Park in the Elite Boys race, giving the Falcons 10 top-50 finishers in the 209-runner field.
Severna Park also fared well in the Elite Girls race, taking second as a team with 85 points behind Howard High School (68 points). Sophia Zell was the top finisher for the Falcons, placing fifth in 19:46, in a race won by Mount de Sales’ Juliette Whittaker in 18:26.0. Alyssa Combs (10th), Caroline Gage (14th), Cara Vandemeulebroecke (25th) and Grace Cambon (31st) combined for the Falcons’ team score, while Kelsie O’Neill (38th), Cameron Zaniker (39th), Neela Baker (47th), Bella Dowdell (52nd) and Abby Weist (70th) ran strong races for the Falcons in the field of 149 runners.
Zell noted the Falcons mostly tend to run better in colder weather, so the times from September 21 might drop along with the temperatures when the Falcons look to defend their state title on November 9.
“I think the best part about our team is that we have a lot of depth, a lot of girls who are working together and pushing each other to work harder, and I think that’s really our strongest point heading toward states is that we’re all working together and holding each other accountable,” Zell said.
Broadneck’s girls took third as a team with 122 points, with Anna Janke leading the Bruins by placing 15th. Grace Denius (18th), Mollie Fenn (26th), Madison Palmer (29th) and Stephanie Costello (34th) contributed to Broadneck’s team score. Jasmine Jones (35th), Lilah Sage (58th), Allison Ballard (82nd), Corinne Van Hoven (87th) and Sophie Jacobs (99th) all finished in the top 100.
Broadneck’s boys ran in the 22-team, 195-runner Large School race and won with an average time of 17:22. Race winner Piotrowski was followed by Broadneck’s Spencer Tate, who took runner-up in 16:19.8. Aidan Rand (14th), Henry Taylor (15th), Austin Greenlee (24th) and Jack Collier (28th) combined for Broadneck’s winning score of 83.
Severna Park JV Dominates, Too
The top-to-bottom strength of the Severna Park cross country program was showcased by the JV runners, who dominated the Elite JV Boys race at Hereford by sweeping the top five finishes and winning the Elite JV Girls race by a comfortable margin as well.
In the Elite JV Boys race, Philip Bansemer won in 17:14.1 and was followed in uninterrupted succession by teammates Reid Figlioli, Eddie Sullivan, Tyler Engelman and Holden Tatem for a perfect team score of 15.
Bansemer’s winning time would have put him at 29th in the Elite Boys varsity race.
Spencer Woodbury (seventh), Mark Antal (eighth), Scott Engelman (10th), Conlan McConnell (11th), Matt Chaisson (13th), Eric McAlexander (17th), Grady McConnell (19th), Alex Lecouras (23), Liam Hagerty (24th) and Colm O’Connor (26th) all finished in the top 30 for Severna Park.
Broadneck took second overall as a team in the Elite JV Boys race, with Ryan Gibb finishing sixth overall behind Severna Park’s top five runners.
In the Elite JV Girls race, Ashley Siebenhaar led Severna Park’s first-place team score of 25 by winning the race in 22:33. Olivia Wright (third), Jackie Testerman (seventh), Sophie Magyarosi (eighth) and Cameron Glebocki (ninth) contributed to the Falcons’ winning total. Taylor Green (14th), Riley Wilbourne (17th), Annabelle Mayo (22nd) and Julia Persinger (41st) all finished in the top 50 of the 313-runner field.
Isabella Baldwin (13th) was Broadneck’s top finisher.