Roland Park gets a kick out of freshman runner Sloan keeping up with the seniors

November 03, 1992|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

Assistant cross country coach Sam Griffith was taking his team for a leisurely run on the 22 rolling acres of Roland Park County School when he discovered freshman Kelly Sloan.

"It was first day of practice this summer, and I was in the front of the pack, and there were a couple of girls staying with me," Griffith said. "We started going up a big hill, and I could feel the group falling behind. I look over, and there's this little girl keeping up with me stride for stride.

"We got back to our starting point, and I was all out of breath and she was game for some more. She took all I dished out. Afterward, I asked her if she ran this summer and she said she had only been out 10 times the last two weeks. I said, 'Only 10 times?' "

For someone who stands 5 feet 3 and weighs 99 pounds, Sloan has quickly earned the respect of area runners and will challenge a senior-laden field in Thursday's Association of Independent Schools cross country championships at St. Timothy's.

If the regular season was any indication of how Sloan will fare in Thursday's meet, Roland Park Country School will be well-represented. Already this year, Sloan has captured the St. Paul's Invitational (which included 117 participants) as well an AIS Group Meet conducted earlier this


Last week, the Cockeysville resident placed seventh overall at the prestigious Saint Invitational in Alexandria Va., which included 120 of the top high school runners from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Roland Park first-year coach Mary Beth Dyer has watched as Sloan has finished either first or second in each of her team's 11 dual meets this season, and Dyer sees no limit to the potential of her freshman sensation.

"We expected her to do well, but she is surpassing what we expected," Dyer said.

"She just keeps getting faster. She's been getting stronger and stronger each meet."

While Dyer would like to take credit for Sloan's swift rise to the top she refuses, citing Sloan's "own natural instincts" as the catalyst.

"We haven't taught much strategy, but she always stays in second and lets the girls ahead of her set the pace," Dyer said.

"She doesn't really kick it in until the last quarter- to half-mile. That's been a wonderful strategy for her. She let's the leader do all the hard work and then she kicks it in."

For a 15-year-old girl who took up the sport of cross country because she "wasn't very good at field hockey," Sloan has surprised a lot of people this season, but no one has been as flabbergasted as Sloan herself.

"This whole season has been one big surprise," said Sloan, who will also play lacrosse and winter soccer for the Reds.

"I really didn't know what I was up against," Sloan said. "I never thought of being that good."

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