Josh Alcombright, Severna Park and Jose Albornoz, Loyola Blakefield

by Nelson Coffin

From 2010 to 2019, Jose Albornoz and Josh Alcombright, the A-Team of Baltimore Metropolitan Area coaches, set standards for their boys’ cross country programs that are unmatched in the region.

Loyola Blakefield’s Jose Albornoz

Albornoz led Loyola Blakefield to an impressive seven MIAA A Conference titles over the decade while Alcombright piloted Severna Park High School to six Class 4A state crowns during that span.

And that’s why they were selected as VSN’s Cross Country Co-Coaches of the Decade.

None of their opponents, regardless of conference or classification, came close to matching the dynamic duo’s success at the highest levels of competition.

Mount St. Joseph was second to the Dons in terms of MIAA A Conference championships, earning back-to-back banners in 2015-16 while snapping Loyola’s six-year stranglehold on league laurels.

Calvert Hall College prevailed in 2019, preventing Loyola from a three-peat to conclude the decade.

Severna Park’s Josh Alcombright

Other than those instances, the past 10 years belonged to the Dons under Albornoz’s steady hand and clear vision.

When it came down to it, the Loyola coach always had his runners focused for the final push in the championship meet.

“Jose really gets his kids ready to compete,” Alcombright said about his private school counterpart. “He always has them well prepared for the championship.”

Albornoz said that he has been blessed “with a great run of talent.”

Turing the talent into titles was his specialty.

The coach said that the teams featuring two-time A Conference individual champ Tyler Spear (Harvard) and 2014 winner Michael Wegner were his most dominating units.

“We had Tyler. Michael and a strong supporting cast,” Albornoz added. “I always tried to take them to big meets to get them ready for the MIAA’s.”

Albornoz also coached VSN’s No. 1 Boys Cross Country Runner of the Decade, 2010 graduated Matt Jablonski.

Alcombright, who has been at the Falcon helm for 14 years, said that his program benefits from a special feeling at the Anne Arundel County school.

“We have a lot of kids who want to be part of something special,” he said. “That’s one of the things that every championship team needs.”

The leadership he provides filters down to his younger runners who rely on upperclassmen in a system that brings repeated success.

“They see the results from the older kids, although we try to bring the younger ones along slowly,” Alcombright said. “But the younger guys know that if they follow the formula, they’ll get better.”

Fielding big teams, in terms of numbers, fuels the Falcons forward, allowing them to sometimes insert their second-best seven runners into invitational meets.

“The kids gain a lot of experience that way,” the coach added.

Severna Park had never won a state title until the 2012 team broke through.

“That’s one we’ll remember for a long time,” he said, noting that the following year’s team was ranked 13th in the nation and the 2014 squad paced by VSN’s No. 2 Cross Country Runner of the Decade Ryan Forsyth won the Nike Cross Country Nationals Southeast Regional team crown.

Albornoz said that Alcombright is adept at turning big teams into big winners.

“Josh does a great job of getting numbers from his school, and pushing them hard to win.”

No. 1 Matt Jablonski, 2010, Loyola Blakefield

No. 2 Ryan Forsyth, 2013, Severna Park High School

No. 3 Sam Keeny, 2019, South River High School

No. 4 Owen Johnson, 2019, Calvert Hall