Brian Harris has two goals for Friday's Harford County Cross CountryChampionships.
First, the C. Milton Wright sophomore wants to win. Second, he wants to break the Harford Glen course record, of 16:47,set by former teammate Jeff Hankins in last year's county title race.
Harris, who placed second last year, is an overwhelming favorite to win. If conditions are right, he could break the record. Already this season, he has established himself as one of the top runners in the state. He won the Westminster Invitational and finished fifth in the Harford County Invitational last weekend.
At the Harford Invitational, Harris was the first Marylander in a strong field in the boysseeded race. He crossed the line in 15:46 on the flat, sharp-turn laden course at Harford Community College.
Harris knew he would havesome difficult competition, especially from Ibrahim Aden, of Fork Union Military Academy (Va.), who blazed to a 15:03 victory.
"All I wanted to do was break 16 (minutes). That was my best time. It's a pretty fast course," said Harris, 17th in last year's state Class 3A championships.
Mustangs coach Bob Johnson liked what he saw from Harris at HCC. "Brian is starting to show some real potential," said Johnson. "If he keeps in contact with that lead pack, he can probably run with them. He has to learn to run out and stay with them, and he isjust starting to do that."
Although Harris ran track with the Harford County Gliders and with the Ed Waters track club before he got to high school, he hadn't done much distance work. With a year of cross country behind him and a summer of increased mileage, Harris is breaking away from the other county runners.
"He's got something inside that says if he sees somebody out there, he's gonna go after them.That's the kind of kid you need to win these kinds of races," said Johnson.
Harris also wants to bring home a state title in a couple weeks, but he knows the competition could give him a strong run. After that he hopes to travel to New York for the Nov. 30 regional qualifier for the Kinney national high school championships. The top eight boys and girls advance to the national race in San Diego in December.
Last weekend, Harris saw some of his opposition for the regional qualifier. Aden was the top non-senior finisher a year ago at the Kinney nationals, held on a very fast course in San Diego's Balboa Park.
In the meantime, Harris will try to pace C. Milton Wright to its fifth straight county boys team title. The Mustangs have a shot at sweeping the top four spots.
At the Harford Invitational, the second-best time for a Harford County runner was turned in by Kevin Koffenberger (16:40). Two other Mustangs, Troy Morse and Chad Boyle, broke 17 minutes.
The next-best time came from Bobby Simmons, of Joppatowne, who finished ninth in the boys small schools race in 17:09.
Inthe race for the girls county championship, defending champ Fallstonshould battle it out with C. Milton Wright.
Fallston's Monica Beall, second last year, is the heir apparent to the girls title, but she could face a tough race from C. Milton Wright's Stacy Servia and Cougars teammate Laurie Cicero.
At the Harford Invitational, Beall turned in the top performance by a county girl winning the girls smallschool race in 20:19. Cicero, a sophomore in her first year of crosscountry, was fifth in the same race in 20:42. Servia, running in thegirls seeded race, was 15th in 20:58.
The next-best times were turned in by North Harford's Joy Corson (6th, 21:09) and Lucy Howard (7th, 21:13) in the girls small schools race.