Does Eric McCarty ever regret helping recruit the teammate who would supplant him as the No. 1 runner on Loyola's cross country team?
The situation was most delicate two years ago, when Eric, then a sophomore, was an on-again, off-again member of the Dons' Maryland Scholastic Association champions.
"I guess he cost me a spot on that team when I was a sophomore," Eric said, "but I'm glad he came out. I'm glad he's on the team."
"He" would be Gavin McCarty, Eric's twin and older brother by two minutes. Different sports separated them through the ninth grade, but Eric's success in cross country and track played a part in Gavin leaving soccer and lacrosse to be a year-round runner.
Eric and junior Matt Beliveau have consistently backed Gavin, one of the area's best.
He was runner-up to Mount St. Joseph's Romero Wilson in the North County Invitational and Milford Mill's Mike Mamo had a scant six-second margin on him at the Spiked Shoe. He won a major meet at the University of Virginia and was the day's fastest at last Saturday's Anne Arundel Invitational.
On Saturday, the Dons will be in the seeded section (2:45 p.m.) of the inaugural Harford Invitational, seeking to regain the No. 1 spot in The Baltimore Sun rankings they surrendered with a second-place finish to Gilman in the mid-sized schools section at Anne Arundel.
The Dons were dropped to No. 3 by the coaches' panel even though they had beaten Gilman 25-34 in a dual meet four days earlier. Loyola is still unbeaten in the A Conference, where the key remaining date is an Oct. 25 dual duel with Archbishop Curley, the new No. 1 team.
Loyola coach Jose Albornoz and Eric McCarty know the Dons wouldn't be in this position had Gavin stuck with soccer, which he played as a freshman.
"I was on the freshman team," Gavin said, "and my teammates used to yell at me for running around the field too fast during conditioning. There were days when I was more interested in watching Eric run than in soccer. I was always telling myself 'If I had run cross country this year . . .,' and the following year I decided to join him."
Gavin was Loyola's top runner by the end of his sophomore season, when he was a third-team All-Metro choice of The Evening Sun. Last year, when the Dons were ranked No. 3 in the area, both twins received honorable mention.
"I know we make each other better," Gavin said. "During the offseason, other guys can make excuses about not having anyone to run with. We never face that problem."
The McCartys plan to split up next fall. Eric, president of the National Honor Society, wants to take his 3.9 cumulative grade-point average to the University of Virginia. Gavin, who's close behind with a B-plus average, likes North Carolina and Virginia Tech.