Cross Country Propelled by Strong Runners

Running, and distance running in particular, reveals a lot about a person’s character, patience and long-term perseverance, Hawks boys’ cross country coach Tim Snyder said. Despite graduating three of its top five runners from a year ago, Urbana boys’ cross country should remain in contention for another top-five finish at the Frederick County championship—but the Hawks are driven by constant development, rather than results.

“You don’t get fast overnight,” Snyder said. “It takes an all-in concept, the ability to pay attention to all the little details. It’s easy to compare our performances and progress to other teams, but if we focus on ourselves, what we do on a daily basis and making forward progress, then everything will fall into place.”

Though Urbana isn’t propelled by the same star power this year as in past seasons, the Hawks’ pack as a whole, led by senior Luke Hartlaub, might be their strongest in recent history. Hartlaub, along with classmates Davis Miller, Alec Boron and Christopher Wagner, juniors Bryce Patterson and Tommy Schupp, and sophomore Henry Rodrigues, all posted personal-best times at the 37th Annual Brunswick “Zumbach” Invitational on Sept. 7. Their work began in early June.

A full training cycle typically takes about 24 weeks, Snyder said. So, for the Hawks to be at their best during the 2019 championship season, they needed to start laying the foundation before the end of the 2018 school year. And it’s obvious, Snyder said, which athletes stuck to the recommended regimen, which consisted of five or six workouts per week.

“The guys that were on the bubble (of our top five) last year put in the work over the summer and it’s clear more than ever, how dedicated they are,” Snyder said.

“Cross country takes five guys to score and we have a strong group of runners who, on any given day, could finish third through seventh. I’m really excited to see who steps up.”

With six of last year’s top seven returning to the girls’ cross country team this fall, and a crop of talented newcomers, the two-time defending Frederick County champion Hawks are in good position to improve on last year’s 11th-place finish at the highly competitive state meet.

Ensuring that athletes are in—and can maintain—peak form throughout championship season is like walking a fine line, girls’ cross country coach CJ Ecalono said. Therefore, the majority of Urbana’s projected top performers haven’t run many races yet this fall.

“We have a lot of season left; October is when we want to be fresh going into every meet,” Ecalono said. “We try our best to work our way through September meets.”

Back to lead Urbana’s pack is senior Sara Jarman, who won individual and Central Maryland Conference titles in 2018. Ranked No. 25 in the most recent USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Rankings, Jarman finished seventh at the Bull Run Invitational on Sept. 21, on the same Hereford High course on which the state meet is run. Sophomores Karly and Emily McDonnell, who finished 25th and 53rd, respectively, at the 2018 state competition, should round out a formidable top three. Emily’s time of 21 minutes, 45 seconds at Bull Run was 10 seconds faster than her result at the same meet a year ago.

Sophomore Addison Lauer, who was part of last year’s state meet contingent, is much improved, Ecalono said, and looks to take on a more prominent role this fall. And the addition of freshmen Ivy Coldren and Lula Masters has bolstered the Hawks’ depth. Coldren (21:27), who moved to Urbana from Georgia with her family just before the start of the season, and Masters (22:17) finished second and fourth, respectively, for Urbana at Bull Run.

“(Coldren) has been going toe-to-toe with our fastest runners,” Ecalono said. “And (Masters) is easily one of our most improved already this season. She’s making big leaps right now, which is really nice.”

While Jarman is the favorite to win county and conference titles again this season, and should be considered a contender at states, Urbana’s success will depend most heavily on the ability of runners two through seven to keep up with her. In cross country, teams are awarded points in increasing amounts based on where runners finish. So, the team with the lowest score wins; therefore tightening the gap between finishers is vital.

“It’s going to be ‘Where’s our fifth runner, where’s our fourth runner,’” Ecalono said. “We know we have a pretty good one, two, three and four, and I think our five, six and seven are the best they’ve ever been in my 12 years of coaching.”

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