A look at the Leonardtown girls' cross-country team's results at the end of the 2004 campaign give a good glimpse of the Raiders' optimistic future: All five runners who finished at the Maryland 3A state championships were freshmen.
Led by Katlyn Dillow, the individual champion in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, the Raiders won the SMAC team title, finished second in the 3A South Region and made a respectable sixth-place showing at the state championship meet.
In 2005, the Raiders are a year older, stronger and wiser, but they're still young.
"Cross-country at Leonardtown has always had pretty good success, so we get a lot of kids based on that," Coach Jamie Copsey said. "We just happen to have a lot of young runners."
In the first major meet of the season Saturday, Leonardtown's girls finished sixth in the large-schools race at the Bull Run Invitational at Hereford High in Parkton.
The leader of the Raiders' pack was sophomore Olivia Webster, who finished eighth out of 115 runners. She was 40th at the 3A state meet last year, when she ran a time of 22 minutes 29 seconds. On a hot, humid Saturday and on the same course used for the state championships, Webster crossed the finish line more than 40 seconds better, in 21:47.
"She was a good runner for us last year, and she worked hard over the summer," Copsey said. "We think she can have a very good season."
Dillow, who did not start running competitively until last fall but quickly became Southern Maryland's best distance runner, finished 18th at Bull Run. She captured second at the 3A South Region meet last fall.
If she can carry over her success from from 2004, she and Webster could form a formidable one-two punch to compete with Northern's impressive duo of senior Keely Murphy and junior Katie Ogden, who finished right behind Dillow at last year's SMAC meet.
"Katlyn should continue to come on stronger as the year goes on," Copsey said.
The Raiders' boys are a bit older, but they also return a number of experienced runners to replace graduated standout Danny Page, who was fourth in the SMAC last year. Leonardtown's boys won the SMAC title to complete the sweep of the championship.
Senior Chris Glynn took 20th at Bull Run, while Brandon Demers was 28th. Glynn was the team's second-best finisher at the 3A state meet last year, taking 52nd, and is expected to be his team's No. 1 runner this year. Demer, a junior, emerged as a top runner last year but missed the postseason with a sprained ankle.