Catonsville senior Graham Strzelecki looks forward to Baltimore County cross country championships. (Craig Clary / BSMG)
Graham Strzelecki's attraction to cross country began in the sixth grade when he rooted for his older sister, Zi Li, a runner on Catonsville High's team.
"He would have Catonsville Comets shirts made for himself," Catonsville cross country coach Sandra Gallagher-Mohler said.
Now, aspiring runners should be rooting for Strzelecki, who is the top runner on the Catonsville squad that will run in the Baltimore County cross country championship meet at Dulaney High on Oct. 22 at 11 a.m.
Being the best on his team is not surprising to Gallagher-Mohler.
"He has been dreaming about this for a long time, so when you have a kid who is that eager and that disciplined you want him to do very well," Gallagher-Mohler said.
Although he was 14th at Barnhart, he was fourth among the Baltimore County runners, behind only Towson's Jon Ellis and Dulaney's Matt Owens and Brian McCullough.
"He doesn't run with anxiety so he knows what his body is capable of doing and being up in front was not something that is stressful for him," Gallagher-Mohler said. "It was something we had planned for. He knew what his goals were and he was pretty on."
The other Comets who ran at Barnhart included juniors Drew Nicolaus (69th), Tim Huynh (97th), Jack Levickas (106th), Joe Hill (107th), Liam Horch (149th) and freshman Gunnar Cheuvront (150th).
Strzelecki, Nicolaus, Huynh, Hill and Cheuvront were five of Catonsville's 17 boys and girls varsity and junior varsity runners who set personal records at the Barnhart meet.
"What was most exciting about that [personal records] was that many of them came from upperclassmen," Gallagher-Mohler said. "Some of them dropped 30 seconds to a minute. That was very exciting."
In the first two invitational meets this season, Catonsville sophomore Eva White was the top Comet on the girls team.
White was 21st at the Barnhart Invitational in a time of 20:30.78.
At the Spiked Shoe, she placed fourth in the afternoon race in 20:26.40.
White and senior Anna Piermattei (16th) both set personal records at the Spiked Shoe.
Sophomore Sharon Kolb (41st), freshmen Eleanor Queeney (45th) and Lin-Ley Harpin (59th), sophomore Jamie Pan (70th) and freshman Emma Angell (73rd) also ran for the Comets who were second in the team standings (143) behind front-running Rising Sun (93).