There was a void atop Carroll County boys cross country entering this season and Century’s Ryan Hartranft was more than happy to run through it.
Following the graduation of 2022 Runner of the Year Peyton Dill, someone needed to step up to fill his big shoes, not only as a county champion, but a leader for the Century program. Hartranft filled all those roles, following the example Dill set before him.
“I had a lot of influences to help me with a success. The team has a family feel,” Hartranft said. “Peyton will always feel like an older brother to me and really took me under his wing.”
Hartranft also listed his coaches, family and friends as those vital to his success. He entered his junior season coming off a track state championship in the 800 meters. While he didn’t add a matching cross country gold medal, Hartranft ran away with the Carroll County championship, won the Class 2A West Region championship and finished fourth at the 2A state meet.
Hartranft is the 2023 Carroll County Times boys cross country Runner of the Year.
Hartraft credits a lot his success to the culture the team has built and the way everyone works together at practices and at meets.
“Every workout we talk about our goals and we talk about how these workouts might not be the funnest thing to do, but they will make our races even better,” he said.
He follows in Dill’s footsteps, not only as a champion but as a leader.
“Peyton will never be replaced but I learned a lot from him,” Hartranft said. “I realized how important it is to come alongside the underclassmen to make them all feel the love for the sport and create a passion for being on the team.”
Hartranft admits that while he enjoyed running as a kid, he did it primarily for his then No. 1 sport.
“I was a decent runner but I used my speed for soccer. … But I wasn’t good enough to play at the high school level,” he said. “A family friend told me to try out for cross country. Some of my friends were doing it, so I just tried out and fell in love with it.
“Starting out, it wasn’t as good as it is now. But my coaches and teammates made it enjoyable. I loved coming back every single day.”
While he said he initially felt like he was behind others who had dedicated years to running, he caught up quickly thanks to hard work.
“I think my sophomore year is really where I started trying as hard as I can in the workouts,” he said. “I think I made up a lot of ground, just taking every easy run, every long run, every workout and every race as best as I can made me catch up.”
Maryland cross country courses vary in the types of terrain a runner will face. Some southern and coastal areas feature flatter courses, but others in the north and west portions of the state are more hilly. And that includes the state championship course at Hereford.
While Hartranft didn’t conquer those hills this time around, he’s ready to put in the work to get the job done next year.
“Even though I didn’t win at Hereford this past fall, next summer I need to work on my hills and I’ll be putting my focus on that,” he said. “I love the flat courses, but it’s the hilly courses that will push me out of my comfort zone.”
All-County first team
Logan Amis, Manchester Valley, junior
Amis finished second behind Hartranft at the county championships, helping lead the Mavericks to the team title.
Gavin Boer, Manchester Valley, junior
Boer was sixth at the county championships, the No. 2 runner on the Mavericks’ county championship team.
Christian Childs, Manchester Valley, senior
Childs was seventh at the county championships but ran his best race at the 3A North Region championships where he finished sixth.
Noah Petroski, Liberty, senior
Petroski was third place at the county championship, 1A North Region champion and third-place finisher at the 1A state championship.
Gregory Schellberg, Liberty, junior
Schellberg blitzed the Hereford course to win the Class 1A state championship in 16:35, also leading the Lions to the team title.
Thomas Sewell, Century, sophomore
Sewell was eight at the county championships, fifth at the 2A West Region championships and seventh at the 2A state championships.
Jackson Steinbrenner, Winters Mill, senior
Steinbrenner won the Rebel Invitational, was fifth at the county championships and sixth at the 2A state championships.
All-County second team
Brayden Ash, Westminster, sophomore
Scott Feaga, Liberty, senior
Jesse Gresh, Liberty, junior
Kayden Hovermale, Winters Mill, sophomore
Evan Kowalewski, Century, junior
Lukas Michael, Westminster, senior
Jace Calhoun, Manchester Valley, senior
Damian Simmons, Francis Scott Key, senior