Last season, Woodlawn, Mervo and Calvert Hall won boys team titles in the county, city and private schools, respectively, and Dulaney, Western and McDonogh did likewise among the girls. Their margins of victory ranged from comfortable to staggering.
Everyone has had a couple of weeks of practice following a cleaning of the uniforms after the indoor season and is ready to go again. The problem for those who thrive on tight races and stiff competition, however, is that these same squads figure to dominate again.
In fact, each of the defending champions might be better this time around.
Woodlawn lost top hurdler and team leader Joel Brown to the Big Ten (Ohio State), but got the expected improvement out of its young runners and field-event performers and is better balanced this season as it moves up in class to 4A.
Returning are All-City/County selectees Clevon Johnson, Vincent Fuller, Anthony Jenkins and Noel Duhaney, Quinton Spratt, Calvin Woodward and Jonas Philipsen, so the Warriors will probably handle the move in class without undue strain.
Randallstown had a good indoor season and, with Will Epps and Gary Bates good bets to score big in field events, looms as the likely strongest challenger to their longtime rivals. Franklin and Dulaney are scrappers.
The main reason Mervo was able to score 162 points in the city championships was the jumping of Kevin Merrick and Norman Forrest. They went 1-2 in the triple jump and 1-3 in the long jump in addition to a first and second in the high and intermediate hurdles. They're sprinters, too, and Mervo always has a pack of strong relay performers.
Poly finished second last season, and, with Alex Scally handling the distances and Clif Turner the dashes, could grab that spot again.
Calvert Hall and Mount St. Joseph always seem to battle, whether it's indoors, outdoors or cross country. The former usually wins on the track because it has Alan McDavid scooping up the 100, 200 and 400 and anchoring a winning relay team. Team speed continues with Tim Rider and Mahatma Jackson.
Mount St. Joe's strength comes in the field, where it is solid in the jumps, hurdles and tosses with Nick Wright and Matt Adams, and in the distances with Chris Wright and Dan Ramirez.
Gilman, which comes on strong after barely noticing the indoor season, has dash men, hurdlers and solid relays.
In the girls competition, it's hard to imagine any team in Baltimore County getting close to Dulaney and its legion of middle distance runners and point scorers in the jumps. While seemingly vulnerable in the dashes, the team has so many interchangeable parts when it comes to long sprints and lengthy relays, it marches on.
Tenke Zoltani, Stephanie Kuehne and Laurie Twardzik won four county titles and had three second-place finishes between them. They did as well at regionals and nearly as well in the state championships. Other top names include Ida Bernstein, Stephanie Wells, Kelly Fanshaw and Chrissy Dachille.
Perry Hall and Woodlawn finished 2-3 in the county last year but lost heavily to graduation, so Franklin, Randallstown -- which has lost Sherelle Simmons to lacrosse -- Catonsville and Parkville could move up.
Western scored 239 points in last spring's city championships, with the rest of the field combining for less than 30 points more than that.
The Doves featured Toni Jefferson, Tia Burley and Layla Acirfa then, and carry on now with Sharronda Boone, Takee Jove and Dana Dixon.
McDonogh's girls seem to show their strength when spring rolls around.
McDonogh scored 125 points while beating Spalding (97.5) and Catholic High (89.5) in the IAAM last year and doubled back a week later to win the state private schools title even more convincingly.
Chanel Lattimer and Jenny Ford lead the way in the sprints and hurdles, Brandi Reston and Anna Eder help out, and they all contribute to success in the 400, 800 and 1,600-meter relay.
Catholic holds its own by covering all the events, and Spalding relies on its distance people to keep things interesting.
C.M. Wright didn't win the girls Harford County championship last season, finishing third behind John Carroll and Fallston. But the team had a big cross country season, winning the state title.
C.M. Wright also competed indoors, finishing fifth in the 4A/3A title meet.
Edgewood, led by Chris Suber, is the defending boys champ. With its usual supply of speedsters, it's probably the team to beat again. One slip, however, and a logjam could develop with CMW, Bel Air, Fallston, North Harford and John Carroll involved.
3. Calvert Hall
4. Oakland Mills
5. Old Mill
6. Mount St. Joseph
7. Wilde Lake
8. River Hill
9. North County
9. Long Reach
Other teams considered: Gilman, Annapolis, Catonsville.
Girls Top 10
1. Long Reach
5. Oakland Mills
6. C. M. Wright
7. River Hill
9. North Carroll
Other teams considered: Severna Park, Mervo, Franklin, Catonsville.