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Hereford Middle School standout athlete follows in grandfather's footsteps

Dave Patrick Sr. knew he had something in common with his granddaughter, Payton Patrick, when she won her first race.

Dave Patrick Sr. knew he had something in common with his granddaughter, Payton Patrick, when she won her first race.

"When she was in the fifth grade, Hereford Middle School was having a Turkey Trot for sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and she ran and wins the race as a fifth-grader against the middle schoolers," said Patrick Sr., who also won his first race as a varsity sophomore on the cross country team at Kenwood High in 1961.

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Two years later, Patrick Sr., 70, won a Maryland state championship at Hereford High School.

Sparks resident Payton Patrick went to Hereford Middle School in the sixth grade and continued to pile up turkeys for winning races.

She won her sixth turkey on Nov. 2 at Cockeysville Middle School in her final middle school race, clocking the 1.1-mile distance in a time of 5:48.

She was glad to win the race, but equally excited for her teammates, who also won the team title.

"I'm happy it's over, but it was like fun and stuff, but I was nervous," she said. "It's nice to have us going one, two, three; it just like shows the talent and stuff. They push me and it just makes me better."

Patrick's middle school teammates: Karenna Laufer (second, 5:50), Mary Ellen Revitte (third, 5:59), Caroline Benda (fourth, 6:01) and Meghan Benda (sixth, 6:05) all ran strong races.

Franklin's Reece Dell (fifth, 6:04) was the only runner who prevented Hereford from gaining a clean sweep.

Payton Patrick, 13, has swept races throughout her middle school career, winning 20 of 21 times and leading her team to back-to-back Baltimore County Middle School cross country titles.

Her dad, Dave Patrick, said her running talent surfaced at Sparks Elementary School.

"She started running as a third-grader and was undefeated in those as well," he said.

Her father ran track under legendary coach Bob Dean at Dulaney High.

"Since my name was Dave Patrick, they told me I had to run," her father said. "A lot of people like to say it skipped a generation."

It was her grandfather, who gained national attention through running.

After graduating from Kenwood, Patrick Sr. attended Villanova University and was the first Maryland runner to break the four-minute mile.

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Payton Patrick, right, poses with her grandfather, Dave Patrick, after winning her final middle school race. Patrick wil attend Hereford High in the fall and run track and play soccer.
Payton Patrick, right, poses with her grandfather, Dave Patrick, after winning her final middle school race. Patrick wil attend Hereford High in the fall and run track and play soccer. (photo by Steve Ruark)

He won two NCAA mile outdoor titles and two NCAA half-mile indoor championships, including one in 1967, when he beat out Jim Ryun in a national meet.

"I had to set the world record because that is the only way you are going to beat him," Patrick Sr. said.

Ryun went on to win a silver medal in the 1,500 meters at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

Dave Patrick Sr. should have been there with him.

That year, the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to have two 1,500-meter Olympic Trials — one in late June at the Los Angeles Coliseum and one in South Lake Tahoe in September.

Patrick Sr. won the race at the Coliseum and thought he qualified for the Olympic team.

But, before the Lake Tahoe race, which was held to see how runners adapted to altitude, qualifiers from the first Olympic Trials were told they would have to finish in the top three in Tahoe to make the team.

Patrick Sr. finished fourth in that race.

"I wasn't mentally or physically ready because I was training for the middle of October," he said.

"When I was on that line, for the first time maybe in my life I wasn't confident. You are going to tell an athlete he's on the team and then a week or two before the final trials you are going to tell him you are not on the team."

In 2008, Patrick gained his rightful honor when the 1968 Olympic track coach, Peyton Jordan, surprised Patrick Sr. at a ceremony that he and fellow U.S. Olympic Committee members voted to admit their mistake and name Dave Patrick Sr. an official member of the 1968 Olympic team.

"I can forgive, but I can't forget because I know I would have done well," Patrick Sr. said.

Knowing her grandfather was an Olympian with numerous track accolades inspired Payton Patrick to excel in sports.

"I hope that I can be as good as him, but I don't know if that is going to happen; but it's nice to have someone that understands," she said.

The main obstacle for her to excel in running is another sport — soccer.

Payton Patrick breaks the tape in her final middle school race. She won 20 of 21 races.
Payton Patrick breaks the tape in her final middle school race. She won 20 of 21 races. (photo by Steve Ruark)

She plays forward on the U15 Pipeline Soccer Club and has led the team in scoring for three years, including 25 goals and 12 assists this year.

She was selected to the Olympic Soccer Development Program and will go to Boca Raton, Fla., Nov. 18-25 on the Region I team to compete for a spot in the national pool.

"She is in the top of the game in both of those sports," Patrick Sr. said.

Her decision will come when she attends Hereford High in 2017 and joins her older brother, Hunter, who played junior varsity football as well as basketball and baseball.

"Either one she is going to excel in, and I think she'll figure it out. It's exciting for me to see her running," Patrick Sr. said.

"I'm going to do soccer," she said. "I'm definitely doing outdoor [track], but I'm not really sure [about indoor track] because I play basketball."

Patrick Sr. admits he does more than just watch her win.

"I work with her how to mentally run the race and how to save energy in terms of how you win the race," he said.

Her desire does the rest.

"She is fiercely competitive and passionate," he said. "She just does not want to lose. She is just extremely talented and very focused."

And what does she like most about running?

"When I cross the finish line, breaking the tape," she said.



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