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2019 All-Metro girls cross country Runner of the Year: Storrie Kulynych-Irvin, Key School

At a school that had not had a girls cross country team in recent years, coach Brandon Demers could barely believe his good fortune when he that a runner of Storrie Kulynych-Irvin’s caliber was headed to Key School.

“I reached out to [friends] and said, ‘Who is this girl?' ” Demers said. “They were all saying, ‘Why is she going to Key school? How did you get her, etc?’ Pretty quickly by word of mouth by my peers and the world wide web, I was able to figure out that she was extremely talented. As an eighth grader, she was entering into meets unattached and winning a lot of meets and running times that were comparable to some of the best athletes in the state at the high school level.”

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Those eighth-grade meets included a win at the Howard County Striders youth event, where she finished in 15:35 minutes over 4,000 meters to win by 59 seconds over the talented Rubie Goffena, who now runs at Manchester Valley. She also made an appearance in the mile at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor, where she ran a 5:09.43 to finish fourth in the junior high school race.

Key School runner Storrie Kulynych-Irvin
Key School runner Storrie Kulynych-Irvin (Courtesy Photo)

The rest of the local running community took notice at the Bull Run Invitational at Hereford on Sept. 21, when the freshman ran 18:24.1 to win the small school varsity race by nearly two minutes over South Carroll’s Grace Siehler, who finished third in the state at the 2A meet.

Her time would have won the elite varsity race, ahead of conference rival Juliette Whittaker of Mount de Sales, by a second and a half. She ran 30 seconds better than Oakley Olson of Northern, who won the 3A state championship, as well as Amanda Eliker of Howard and Mackenzie Morrison of Bel Air.

She won the Chesapeake Invitational in 18:30.7 and the Georgetown Prep Classic in 18:55.7 before heading into the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championships at McDaniel College.

She spent the week leading up to the race pouring over course photos and GPS statistics that could help her develop a game plan. When it came time, she executed the plan to perfection, running a personal-best 18:17.4 to win the overall title by over 51 seconds.

Kulynych-Irvin’s plan to ensure that she had enough distance so Whittaker, who finished second, couldn’t use her strong 800 speed to catch her showed maturity beyond her years.

“She really is like a student of the sport, where she wants to know why she is doing certain workouts, she wants to know when she can go hard on a course,” Demers said. “She’s just unbelievably passionate and she goes beyond what I would expect of any high school athlete. She really carries herself like a collegiate athlete, like someone who is on scholarship or getting paid to run. She’s kind of more mature than some of her peers.”

An injury derailed her opportunity to run at the New Balance Cross Country Classic, but she plans to rest and recover and split time in the winter between swimming and running some high-level invitational indoor track events.

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