Catonsville runner Hallie Shepard recovers from car accident to be one of three Catonsville-Arbutus Times Female Athletes of the Year

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Catonsville senior Hallie Shepard shows off one of the many medals she won during her track career. Shepard is one of three Catonsville-Arbutus Times Athletes of the Year.

Catonsville’s Hallie Shepard piled up the victories and top-10 finishes during her first two seasons of cross country, indoor and outdoor track and was prepared to reach higher goals during her senior year.

That all changed on Aug. 5, 2022, when she was in a serious car accident.


“I had a pretty bad concussion and that took a little bit to come back from, so I was off for like a month or two and at least for the first couple days I couldn’t move my neck at all,” Shepard said. “I definitely had a lot of whiplash symptoms and bruising and stuff like that, but I think the concussion was the worst part because you really can’t do anything with a concussion.”

As a junior, she was first in the Baltimore County cross country championship meet, second at the Barnhart Invitational, third in regionals and sixth at states.


But just completing her first race midway through cross country season last fall was a tremendous challenge.

“I think my first race back mentally I just kind of had to take it easy on myself, just because I always have super high expectations for myself and performance, especially athletically. I think just going through all that I just really had to learn to take it easy and not be so hard on myself,” she said.

“I hadn’t run in months and it wasn’t going to be like my best run so I think I was a little like put off by the fact that it wasn’t an amazing run, but I think that there were some other things I could be proud of just the fact that I did it. Just being behind like girls that I completely beat last year, it just really like put me off because I was a competitive person, but you have a certain point you just kind to have to take a step back and realize that there is other things to be proud of.”

Catonsville coach Gallagher-Mohler has worked with Shepard since the fifth grade, so she knew the young athlete had the ability to be one of the top runners in the state. She realized Shepard’s determination was even greater.

“We had to rest her for a really long time, way longer than was ideal in terms of performance,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “More than anything else, she’s incredibly talented, but she really had to work through the frustration of, ‘This is not the way any of us wanted to have our senior year, every step is moving forward, but it’s behind where I want it to be,’ and she did a good job of getting herself to the place of, ‘I’m OK with where I am, I’m proud of what my body is able to do, but it took time.’”

Catonsville's Hallie Shepard crosses the finish line during the Baltimore County cross country championships at Dulaney High School on Oct. 22, 2022.

Said Shepard: “I just decided to give it my all. I mean it was going to be my last season, so I just wanted to make it count.”

She certainly did, finishing sixth in the counties, fourth at regionals and 13th at states in Class 4A.

But in the 3,200 meters at the indoor state championship meet at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex, she ran a personal-record time of 11:26.23. That was over 20 seconds faster than her previous best when she placed second at the regionals (11:46.56) after a runner-up finish at the county championship meet.


She capped her senior campaign outdoors by taking ninth at states in the 3,200, third in regionals and fifth at counties.

Her efforts helped her become one of three Catonsville-Arbutus Times Female Athletes of the Year, along with classmate Leah Vacin and junior Casey Fisher.

Was the 3,200 at indoor states her favorite race?

“I think it was. I think it just meant a lot to me to gain back that strength and confidence,” she said. “I was able to be really proud of myself that day, just realizing that I had run as fast as I did.”

Catonsville's Hallie Shepard is one of three Catonsville-Arbutus Times Female Athletes of the Year, along with classmate Leah Vacin and junior Casey Fisher.

“That was the breakthrough race that she really needed because she kind of had just been stuck,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “Her workouts were fantastic, but she basically missed almost the whole fall, since she really didn’t get any of that base training.”

Her natural ability in distance running can go beyond 3,200 meters.


“She really is a true distance runner and she has good power for being a distance runner, like I would love to be able to coach her in a 10K or a marathon because the longer she goes, the better,” Gallagher-Mohler said.

Jaren Maybin, who coaches football in the fall and sprinters in indoor and outdoor track, was certainly impressed.

“Watch her run, she is so fluid,” Maybin said. “She just makes it look so easy and I’d be calling out times, but they are fast. Hallie is one of my favorites. Hallie really, really made me interested in long-distance running.”

Catonsville senior Hallie Shepard shows off one of the many medals she won during her track career.

Gallagher-Mohler, Ben Fusco and Maybin were key influences in Shepard’s career.

“I worked with coach ‘S’ [Gallagher-Mohler] since I was like in fifth grade and she helped me learn like a good running gait and also just how to pace,” Shepard said. “Pacing was always my strong suit, like pacing over speed was always kind of my thing, but she really taught me a lot of things about mental strength that complements physical strength.”

Shepard ran for Gallagher-Mohler’s IRunTons in the offseason, and after Catonsville’s 2022 indoor track season ended, she went to Virginia Beach and won the 1,500 and 3,000 elite races in the 17-18 age division at the AAU Indoor Nationals.


“Coach Fusco was also amazing in cross country, he always treated me like his own child, he’s super loving and supportive and Coach Maybin is just a joy to be around, he was always screaming for me,” Shepard said. “It’s nice to have those surroundings.”

Those surroundings are changing. Shepard will attend the University of Arizona in the fall, but will not race competitively.

“The weather is a big plus, but also it’s a great school with a lot of traditions and I’m going into medicine, so the program there is really spectacular and I’m in the honors program as well, so in honors college there is a lot of opportunity for academic growth and also growing through the community,” Shepard said. “They also have a lot of study abroad programs and if I ever change my mind about what I want to do as a career, being at a big school is a big plus for that to really study anything that I want to do.”

Shepard plans to run at her own pace in Arizona.

“I think I’m going to start off slow, definitely local, I mean running is an awesome sport because you can take it with you anywhere, so I’ll be taking that with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life,” she said. “Being able to do some local stuff there when it’s not blasted hot and just staying active will be a big thing, but having nice weather year-round will be important for me, running leisurely and lots of gym time, but definitely taking a break from the competitive side of running right now.”