In the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference this fall, many cross-country stars from the past few years have moved on through graduation -- including Ryan Murphy of Northern and Ashley Owen of Westlake, the reigning All-Extra athletes of the year.
Seven of the eight boys who were selected All-Extra have graduated, but La Plata's David Anderson is back and leads a solid Warriors squad that includes seniors Kevin Hammond and Shane Seremet. La Plata lost several top seniors but should contend again in the conference -- the Warriors were dual meet runners-up and SMAC and 3A South Region meet champions.
Patuxent's boys won the SMAC dual-meet title last year behind a group of now-graduated seniors. Russell Warren and Pat McCall will try to pick up some of the slack for the Panthers. Leonardtown has seniors Jason Beaudwin, Josh Dotson and Danny Page back and could be a contender.
The La Plata girls won the SMAC dual meet title, finished second at the SMAC meet and third in the region. Back is All-Extra Samantha Stalter, who took fifth in the SMAC last year, as well as Sarah Tominack and Christa Robertson, who were top 15 finishers and honorable mention All-Extra selections.
For Patuxent, two-time All-Extra junior Jessica Simpson and junior Alison Parris are back for a deep and experienced girls team. Northern has the top two girls' returnees from the SMAC meet, junior Keely Murphy and sophomore Katie Ogden, and should be a main contender.
Westlake is in rebuilding mode after losing Owen and Megan Ritacco, who transferred out of the area, but Lana Jimerson and Chelsa LaChance were All-Extra honorable mentions last fall.
Calverton begins its second season of varsity cross-country with promise. Junior David Spaulding won two races last season and joins Steve Turner and Noah Gyorgy as Calverton aims for another title in the Maryland Independent Schools Athletic League. The girls are led by Erika Smith and Katie Bradley.