Northern's Andrew Bauder has set a high bar for himself this cross-country season. The senior would like to emulate the dominance of former teammate Ryan Murphy, the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champion and All-Extra Athlete of the Year last season.
Bauder is proving himself after a decisive win over two major SMAC contenders, David Anderson of La Plata and Danny Page of Leonardtown, in a tri-meet Wednesday.
He is also aiming to match Murphy in other ways: Murphy was the Owings school's salutatorian, and Bauder is poised for the top two in his class as well, said Northern Coach Vickie Murphy, Ryan Murphy's mother.
"He's been running very strong all year," Murphy said. "He looked up to Ryan last year, and this season he wanted to match him. They're good friends -- it's kind of a friendly rivalry type of thing."
While Murphy runs for the University of Virginia, Bauder is staking his claim as one of the SMAC's best. Last month, he finished ninth overall in the elite Bull Run Invitational, held at Hereford High School in Parkton, site of the Maryland state championships.
Bauder's win Wednesday was a bright spot on a day when both Patriots teams saw their perfect records blemished. The Patriots boys defeated La Plata but lost to Leonardtown, and the girls fell short against both teams.
In the girls' race, Leonardtown freshman standout Kaitlyn Dillow defeated Northern junior Keely Murphy in a back-and-forth race. Dillow's final lean edged Murphy.
Murphy missed much of last spring's track season with stress fractures in her legs, an injury that limited her summer training and contributed to a slow start this season.
"She's been struggling to get back into shape, but hopefully this is a good sign," Vickie Murphy said of her daughter.
Patuxent Girl in the Lead Pack
While Dillow and Murphy duked it out Wednesday, Patuxent junior Allison Parris stayed undefeated in dual meets.
Parris has been one of Southern Maryland's most consistent runners this fall. She placed third in the large-schools race at the Bull Run Invitational, and last weekend she took seventh overall at the Linganore Invitational in Frederick.
Parris, Dillow and Murphy are likely to be the top contenders at the SMAC championship meet Oct. 27. Patuxent Coach Prasad Gerard said Parris's emergence is due in large part to her mental development as a runner.
"Allison has improved dramatically this year," Gerard said. "She always wants to go all out at the beginning, and she's learning how to hold back. She's becoming a more mature runner."