|Baltimore County Novice Meet|
Baltimore County Novice Meet
Newcomers get their first taste of cross country
by Brad Jaeger
Each year Baltimore County kicks off their cross country season with a novice meet at Towson High School and yesterday the tradition continued. Approximately 100 newcomers to cross country toed the line for their initial foray into trail running.
Jimmy Wenzel of Hereford was one of those runners. “I just like running”, said Wenzel. “I’ve run 5K’s before, but this is much better because I get to run with kids my own age.” Hereford once again had the largest contingent of first time runners in the field. This Group 3 school located in the northern section of the county consistently brings out new runners each year.
Hereford coach Jason Bowman is a teacher in the school and believes that making sure he works the hallways to find new runners. “We make sure we get the word around and we talk about the sport in our classes”, said Bowman. Russ Drylie, also a Hereford coach said, “We also got a lot of kids that enjoyed running outdoor track and wanted to give this a try.” Hereford also keeps running in the family in that many of the newer runners had brothers or sisters that had run for the Bulls in the past.
Catonsville showed why the boys team is considered one of the favorites for the county championships this year with Joe Matty and Will Ballagarro taking one-two in the boys race with Matty winning in 18:38. Matty had run outdoor track last year and Ballagarro is a freshman who began running earlier this summer. Both runners were more than excited at the end of their race. “We work hard all the time in practice”, said Matty. “We’re a close team, we trained together as much as we could this summer.”
Catonsville coach Sandra Gallagher was just as excited about this year’s team. “This is the first year we had to make cuts”, said Gallagher. While many schools have trouble filling up their team, Catonsville had so many kids come out they had to let some kids go this season. Gallagher said, “We had to base it on their summer training and level of dedication.” While Matty and Ballagarro have hopes of making the varsity squad this year, Gallagher is in the enviable position of not being so sure. “They’re good, but with so many good runners on our team this year, they’ll really have to step it up to take it to the next level.”
Rachel Barkley of Hereford won the girls race in 20:34. Barkley ran outdoor track for Hereford and decided to give cross country a try. Barkley admits that she likes cross country much better than track. “This is so much better than just going around in circles”, said Barkley. “Running the trails is so much more relaxing.”
The season starts for Baltimore County with a series of dual meets next Friday, September 5. Check the Running Maryland race calendar for the location and matchups.