Bryn Mawr freshman cross country runner matures quickly
By By Nelson Coffin
Nov 03, 2014 | 2:25 PM
Bryn Mawr's Sophie Gitlin seemed only mildly surprised at the extent of her victory in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championship cross country meet Oct. 29 at Oregon Ridge Park.
The freshman's reaction, when compared to the original projections of Mawrtian coach Jim Lancaster, was as understated as her margin of victory — she finished in 18:37, 41 seconds ahead of Emily Craig of Maryvale — was significant.
"I thought it would be closer," said Lancaster, whose team was second to champion McDonogh after finishing ninth, 11th and 12th, respectively, the last three years in the A Conference. "I thought it might take a 19:20 to win. We talked about her running a sub-19:00."
Talk is one thing, doing is another.
"We wanted her to go out fast, just not recklessly," he said. "But when she was had something like a 12:15 or 12:20 after 2 miles, we were in pretty good shape. She's been a monster in the third mile this season. She just has another gear."
McDonogh coach Jeff Sanborn said that one of his seniors, Maggie Seybold (fifth, 19:51), attempted to keep pace with the fleet Gitlin for the first half of the race before falling back.
"I told Maggie to go after her," Sanborn said. "But at 1.5 miles, it was over."
Gitlin did not quite post the same time — a course-record 17:59 — that three-time IAAM champ Ellie Gonzalez did for Catholic High three years ago, but the talented rookie still ran away from the field with apparent ease.
"I wanted to go out fast and run a sub-6 (-minute mile) and then hope for the best," the Roland Park resident said about running on the Mawrtians' hilly home course in Cockeysville. "Our coach always tells us that the first mile is about (using your) head, the second about legs and the third about heart."
Gitlin said that the footsteps "kept getting fainter" behind her as she pulled away at the halfway mark, exceeding her personal-best time this season by 15 seconds.
Lancaster, a middle school history teacher at Bryn Mawr, said he kept his eye on Gitlin as she matured.
"I asked her if she was going to try out for the cross country team," and she said she was going to go out for field hockey. But then I saw the results from a fitness test she took, and it was off the charts. I said 'Sophie, you really need to run cross country, because I think you can be pretty good.'"
By good, the coach thought she would be able to eventually post a sub-20:00 and become one of the top-five-or-10 runners in the IAAM.
Obviously, she has shattered that ceiling and is hoping to do even better at the Maryland/DC Private Schools championships Nov. 9 and the Foot Locker Northeast Regional in New York on Nov. 29.
Gitlin's presence alone has helped the team excel this fall.
"She's a phenomenal teammate who works really hard," he said. "It's how she approaches running that makes her so good."
It has also thrust teammate Amy Egan into the upper echelon of the league after the sophomore sliced a full minute from her time in last year's championship meet.
"Last year, Amy didn't have anyone on our team as fast as her, so it helps her to work out with Sophie," he said. "Watching those two go back and forth on a track is a little mind blowing. The two of them feed off each other. Amy's mentality is similar to Sophie's. They have had tremendous years."
As a team, Lancaster said the No. 3 through No. 7 runners — seniors Sophie Trikeriotis (20:50), Eva McNabney (21:37), Alexa Corse (21:46) and Claire Drigotas (23:12) and junior Elizabeth Dearing (22:30) — were part of the effort that propelled the Mawrtians to second place.
Natalie Gallo, Julia Ball, Rachel Ancel, Gurleen Ahuja, Kaely Bennett, Austin Gatchell and Eva Frankel pushed Roland Park Country School to fourth place in the B Conference.
In the C Conference, Friends was paced by Baiz Hoen, Meghan Donovan, Alice Wiedefeld, Mallory Higgins and Ameilia Halverson while Melanie Wesikopf, Clara Brill-Carlat, Lauren Ginsburg, Margot Kahn, Jesse Andewrson, Hannah McKenzie and Sophie Bailowitz led Park.