A season after the Catonsville girls and boys didn’t qualify as teams for the state cross country championships, coach Sandra Gallagher-Mohler was enthusiastic about the future.
Gallagher-Mohler, who coached the Comets' cross country teams from 2003 through 2012, before leaving to be an assistant track coach at Loyola University Maryland, was glad she had come back this fall.
“I am absolutely convinced I made the right decision,” said Gallagher-Mohler, a 1999 Catonsville High School graduate. “I loved my Loyola girls, but the impact I get to have at the high school level is a good, satisfying feeling.”
At the state meet at Hereford High School on Nov. 14, the Catonsville girls finished 18th in the Class 4A race won by Walter Johnson. The were 20th in the race won by Dulaney and, individually, by senior Eric Walz (16:06) of the Lions.
Those results came after both Catonsville squads finished fifth at the Class 4A North Region meet and fourth at the Baltimore County championships.
“We wanted to continue to develop the competitive spirit, and we wanted to advance to states as a team,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “We wanted to reach the end of the season not wanting it to end. I think we achieved all three of those goals. At counties, almost every single person ran a personal best.”
At the county and regional meet, every male runner who competed at the Barnhart Invitational on the same Dulaney course in September, improved his time. The girls' improvement was equally encouraging.
“On the starting line, I can usually tell whether they are going to have a good day or not,” Gallagher-Mohler said about last Saturday's state finals. “They had that look like, ‘Today is going to be a good day,’ and it absolutely was a good day.
"They ran smart. They didn’t let some other team dictate the race they wanted to run. They threw caution to the wind and at the same time they didn’t run safe, either.”
Junior Graham Strzelecki was the top finisher for Catonsville at counties, regionals and states. Junior Kam Harrison wasn't available for states after breaking his foot on a trail run.
“We lost Kam Harrison to a freak accident, but Joe Hill, a first-year runner as a sophomore, came in and rose to the occasion,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “We’ve just had really strong performances all around. They work a lot in the pack mentality. They are not scared. They are running hard. They are going after it.”
Leading the way for the Catonsville girls were freshmen Eva White and Sharon Kalb, who were 1-2 for the Comets at states.
“Our freshmen and the incoming freshmen girls will make a huge impact,” Gallagher-Mohler said, looking to next season.“We have a young girls squad, but we’ve had great leadership and they will graduate so I know that our young girls will step up, they learn.”
Junior Anna Piermattei has one more season. The seniors who ran their final race were Sarah Jeffrey, Emma Lesnevich, Alicia Dixon and Claire Sattler.
In the Class 2A boys race, Western Tech placed 24th. In the 2A girls race, the Wolverines were 18th.
Here are the results of Catonsville-area runners at the state championship meet.
Catonsville boys (20th, 560 points)
67-Graham Strzelecki 17:54
104-Halim Joseph 18:31
134-Shaun Miller 19:04
149-Jack Levickas 19:34
150-Drew Nicolaus 19:37
158-Sam Bower 19:53
162-Joe Hill 20:24
Catonsville girls (18th, 536)
86-Eva White 22:14
104-Sharon Kalb 22:46
112-Anna Piermattei 23:16
128-Sarah Jeffrey 24:06
131-Emma Lesnevich 24:35
138-Alicia Dixon 24:57
142-Claire Sattler 25:12
Western Tech boys (24th, 662)
127-Asim Scipio 20:40
133-Davis Rogers 20:58
137-Brandon Briscoe 21:11
152-Jalen Perry 21:48
163-Nelson Brown 22:29
171-Noah Johnson 23:05
181-Craig Grayson 25:08
Western Tech girls (18th, 562)
112-Erykah Leno 25:33
126-Kiara Jones 27:05
130-Kikola Akanbi 27:55
138-Tara Bland 30:04
139-Ariaunna Shaw 30:09