Accidental runner leads Carver into 1st state cross country meet

Andre Beatty tried out for Carver's cross country team solely to improve his endurance for football next season.

Little did the 135-pound freshman know that he'd be the Bears' best runner this year -- even a few steps better than three-year veteran Carnell Dargon, Carver's senior co-captain and No. 3 runner behind Beatty and junior Dunte Bennett.


Lately, however, Beatty, 15, has had second thoughts about his future, especially after pacing the Bears to an unprecedented fifth Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference title and a 10-0 record.

"I was going to go out for football," said Beatty. "Now, maybe I just might stick with cross country."


Coach Walter Cole hopes so.

Beatty helped Carver complete its milestone in Thursday's 15-46 victory over visiting Forest Park at Druid Hill Park in the final regular-season meet. The Bears swept the top five places in a dual meet for the fifth time this season.

Beatty's first-place clocking of 18 minutes, 15 seconds was a nine-second improvement over his previous best, which he delivered on the same course two days earlier in a tri-meet with Mervo and City.

Cole believes Beatty has the potential to break the record (16:40) over the three-mile Druid Hill Park course. The mark was set by Sean Hendrick, now a sophomore running at Morgan State University.

"Andre has been a real surprise and his times have gotten lower and lower," Cole said of Beatty, who recorded his best time (17:43) in the second meet of the year against Patterson.

In Thursday's 3A Region III meet, Beatty, Bennett, a first-year runner, and Dargon will lead the Bears into perhaps the biggest challenge of the school's history, as the MSA public schools compete in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association meet for the first time.

The Bears will face a powerful contingent, including third-ranked Howard County champion Centennial, Atholton (third in Howard County) and fourth-place Howard High.

Atholton had the individual county runner-up, Bryan Townsend, who was followed by Centennial runners Mark James (third), Stephen Olenick (fourth) and Robert Allen (fifth).


"All I know is that there are going to be a lot of people there," said Beatty, "and I hope I can win."

He should get help from senior Phillip Goodwin and junior Damien Hopkins, the Nos. 4 and 5 runners for the Bears. Junior Jerry Reaves and freshmen Clarence Lee, David Berkely and Jamille Cohn add depth.

"I have faith in the guys," said Dargon, 17. "I think it's all mental. We just have to keep telling ourselves that it'll take a team effort and that we deserve as much recognition as the county schools have been getting."

Cole, a former standout at Dunbar and Morgan State, says his runners have responded to his coaching on the run.

"When you're running beside them, there are little things that you can tell them as you go," said Cole, 54.

Cole is hoping the Bears' dedication pays off this week.


"We only found out that we'd be competing against the public schools during the first few days of practice, but since then, we've taken it one meet at a time," said Cole. "It's really important to me and the kids. They're pumped up, and they view it as giving the county schools an idea that we have runners in the city. I'm hoping they peak for the regionals."