Davies has leg up on cross country foes Unbeaten standout from Catonsville eyes 3rd major win


Like many of the area's best cross country runners, Jamie Davies trains to cover a lot of ground very quickly.

Yet the magnitude of his recent accomplishments has awed even Bill Mouser, his coach at Catonsville High.

Not only is the 6-foot-1, 148-pound Davies unbeaten in four races, he has dethroned two champions to win the Johns Hopkins Spiked Shoe and Harford County invitationals, leaving two of the area's best harriers in his wake.

Davies tackles his third major event, the Barnhardt Invitational, at Dulaney on Saturday.

"I was surprised at the Spiked Shoe because it's the first big meet, and he wasn't officially training in the summer," said Mouser, adding that Davies' current training includes running up to 65 miles a week.

"The training he does is pretty standard -- speed work, hills and then slow and easy training. He's right on schedule since beginning the eight-week program in August, and he usually doesn't peak until right around the state championships [in November]."

So far, Davies has been way ahead of his competition, beginning with Gilman's Ted Lord, last year's Spiked Shoe champ as a sophomore in 17 minutes, 10 seconds.

Lord was favored to repeat, but Davies -- despite a rain-slicked 3.1-mile course -- made his move at the half-mile mark and breezed to a 10-second victory over the Gilman runner.

"It was my first time running on that course since 10th grade, but my coach thought I could finish in the top three," said Davies, who crossed the line in 17:16, compared to Lord's 17:26.

"I started fast and pretty much stayed in front the whole time," said Davies. "Even though I wasn't sure if I should have been there [up front] that early, I tried to maintain the pace, and I kept it up."

The same could be said of last weekend's race in Harford County, where Davies outdistanced runners from more than 75 schools, including an upset of last year's Baltimore Sun All-Metro Runner of the Year Brian Harris of C. Milton Wright .

Harford Glen was the site Nov. 5 last year when Harris, a two-time Harford County champ, crossed the finish line in 17:08 -- 50 seconds ahead of the runner-up -- to win his third straight 3A Region III title (now the 3A North Region).

He was unbeaten last season until collapsing within a half-mile of the finish line at last year's state meet, eventually finishing 25th.

Davies was in control Saturday, however, covering the 3.1 miles in 16:15 -- 14 seconds and about 70 yards ahead of the next runner, Doug Ling (16:29) of Cumberland Valley. Harris (16:46) was sixth.

"There's no way I thought I'd beat him [Harris]. His time at the regionals last year was faster than mine by about a minute," said Davies, 17, who came within 10 seconds of the course record (17:07) at Catonsville during a dual meet this year.

"I think Harris was overcoming a muscle pull in his leg, which can be a problem. But he was the three-time champ [at Harford's Invitational] and I have a lot of respect for him."

After a three-year stay in Westminster, the state meet has returned to Hereford. And with Catonsville having dropped to the Class 2A level this season, Davies will be among those favored to win the title vacated by last year's All-Metro, Ed Hogan of Glenelg.

Davies had "no idea" he'd be as dominant as he has been, though he enjoyed success last year as Baltimore County champ (in 16:27), placing fifth in the region and seventh in the 3A state meet.

Davies attributes his physical conditioning to a summer of cross-training, which included using a rowing machine, swimming, weight training and cycling. He says tang soo do -- a form of martial arts -- has helped him maintain his mental conditioning.

It has taken him a year and three months to achieve a blue belt in that discipline, with two belts to go before earning his black belt.

"Winning isn't everything. And tang soo do helps me in that philosophy," said Davies.

He'll need that philosophy with area runners starting to notice him.

"I can tell the pressure's going to be there shortly, sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad," Davies said. "I'm just going to keep training, keep trying to take each race one at a time."

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