No matter what happens in the Baltimore County cross country championships on Saturday, Oct. 19, the season has already been a success for the Catonsville cross country program.
The boys team placed eighth out of 22 schools in the Large Boys competition at the Bull Run Invitational at Hereford High on Sept. 21.
That came on the heels of a seventh-place finish in the Barnhart Invitational held at Dulaney High.
Signs that the boys team was vastly improved surfaced at the Barnhart when senior Elliott Wack finished 11th in a time of 16:42.8 and junior Jack Roseboom was 12th in 16:45.7. The duo helped the Comets finish seventh out of 19 teams.
That came on the heels of the previous years when the Comets were 13th in 2018, 16th in 2017 and 14th in 2016.
The 2018 and 2017 races were held at the Baltimore County Agricultural Center, but the Barnhart returned to Dulaney High where the county and regional championship are held this fall
Before the county championships, Wack was looking forward to getting back to the Dulaney course after running his personal record time at Barnhart.
“We really haven’t had a fast course since then,” said Wack, who has a goal of breaking 16:20 this season.
The 6-foot, 128-pound Wack has benefitted from the training under coach Sandra Gallagher-Mohler.
“That’s definitely one thing say you can about Sandra is that she pushes you as hard as she can,” Wack said. "As stressful as you can get, it does make you stronger in the long run.”
Wack, whose older brother Garrett kicked and punted for the football team, started running in the fifth grade.
“I pretty much played every sport except for football,” he said. “I was never really that good at any of them. It wasn’t until I started running that I realized that I was good at it and liked it and I was having fun.”
Now, Wack, who was eighth at Bull Run in a time of 17:06.4, and fourth at the Crossfire Invitation in 17:43, has a desire to run in college.
“It depends where I go,” Wack said. “If I go to a D I school I’ll probably just run club, but if I go to a D III school, I’ll have an easy shot at varsity and I think I’m going to run, just a matter of what I will run.”
Roseboom still has another year of high school competition, where he also runs on the indoor and outdoor teams, but he is looking forward to running beyond that.
“I plan to run at the highest level that’s available. I hope to just keep bumping my training up and after the season ends take it to another level and I just want to keep progressing and top out,” Roseboom said. “If I can go D I, I’ll go D I, if I can go D II, I’ll go D II, whatever I top out at.”
Roseboom finished 18th at the Baltimore County championships last year in 17:38. 3 and was 43th at Barnhart.
This year’s Barnhart time of 16:45.7 was a personal record in 5,000 meters and he eclipsed his PR in three miles at Bull Run in 17:07.9.
His improvement started well before the season.
“I started training on a new program over the summer, ran a lot more miles, I ran on my own,” he said. “I pretty much doubled the mileage that I was hitting last summer,” Roseboom said.
He had to change his schedule, but began the see the reward.
“I just started really putting my mind to it, getting up every morning, putting the miles in, long runs and just telling myself that it was going to pay off,” Roseboom said. “I really got my feet under me at Barnhart. I was holding with a higher pack and I wasn’t checking my watch much, but when I came around that stretch and I saw the clock, I knew that I had gotten closer to what I wanted.”
At Crossfire, he finished 10th in 18:25.3 and on Oct. 12 was 32nd (17:37.2) at the Gunpowder Invitational.
Finishing eighth as a team at the Bull Run was not a two-man show for the boys.
Junior Daniel Lamb (62nd, 18:57), sophomore Nicholas Brent (65th, 19:02) and junior Malcolm Silver (95th, 19:28) rounded out the top five and sophomore Ed Parker (19:50), junior Josh Mesa (19:58), sophomore Ethan Gutberlet (20:32) and senior Jackson Kistler (20:45) also ran for the Comets.
Catonsville girls making strides
When Jessica McDivitt finished sixth (20:03.1) at last year’s Baltimore County championship race as a junior, she trailed senior front-runners Emily Konkus (1st, 19:09.4), of Hereford, and Brooke Ruffin (2nd, 19:33.2), of Dulaney.
She also trailed Dulaney freshman Anna Albergo and Hereford freshmen Piper Lentz and Caroline Benda.
All three of them returned this season, along with Towson junior Madeline Till, who McDivitt nipped by 2.1 seconds.
McDivitt has posted a strong senior season that includes top 15 finishes at 5,000 meters in the Crossfire (4th, 22:28.5), Gunpowder (15th, 21:04.9) and Barnhart (14th, 20:53.2). She also finished 25th at Bull Run in 22:07.4.
Her goal at the county meet is simple. “I was sixth last year, so I want to be better than sixth,” McDivitt said.
As a team, the Comet girls were 13th at Bull Run.
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Behind McDivitt was junior Beverly Bolster (46th, 23:00.9), sophomores Kelsey King (85th, 24:22.9) and Malee Eagle (92nd, 24:39.9), freshman Quinn Walchak (104th, 25:01.7), sophomore Kathryn Lane (145th, 27:06.4) and freshman Amelia Gierasch (154th, 28:13).
Bolster, who was injured during cross country season last year, was the fastest Comet girl at Crossfire when she finished third in 22:07.3.
Earlier in the year, on the Dulaney course at Barnhart, Bolster set a personal record (21:30.5) while finishing 27th for the Comets, who placed eighth in the team standings.
Gallagher-Mohler, who coaches with Ben Fusco, coached the Comets from 2003 through 2012 and left to be an assistant at Loyola University Maryland for two years before returning to Catonsville in 2015.
The 1999 Catonsville High graduate knew the improvement was eventually going to surface when she came back to the campus where she ran as a student.
“We have a ways to go to be competitive,” Gallagher-Mohler said in 2015. “We will get there. It didn’t happen overnight when I was here the first time and it’s not going to happen overnight now. We have a ways to go to be competitive."
The finish line is getting closer and closer.