Hard work speeds Scorpions' Curtis to success

October 13, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

After Oakland Mills' Greg Curtis recorded the fastest time among runners from 83 schools at the Harford Invitational last Saturday, some overdue recognition flowed his way.

But he's trying to ignore it.

"I try not to think about my success. I try to downplay it," Curtis said. "If you think you're the best, it affects you negatively. You don't want to work as hard."

Hard work is the linchpin of Curtis' success. It has propelled him to six straight victories -- five of them invitationals. It helped him set the 3-mile course record (16 minutes, 29 seconds) at Oakland Mills.

"A lot of times kids are just endowed with God-given talent and don't work hard," Oakland Mills coach Steve Carnahan said. "Greg works as hard or harder than anyone I've coached. He's earned what he's achieved."

Curtis, a senior, was supposed to be the county's No. 1 runner last season, but that recognition went to Centennial's Kevin Hill, a transfer from South Africa by way of Philadelphia.

Curtis finished runner-up to Hill at the county championship and ran in his shadow all season. But he isn't sorry that Hill showed up.

"I'm glad he came. I learned from him. He raced technically. He knew how to surge and play with people's heads. He was strong and good and he elevated my running," said Curtis, who lost to him at the county championship by two seconds.

Curtis went on the win regionals and finish third in the Class 2A state championship.

And he realized that he'd have to work even harder over the summer if he hoped to be ready in case someone like Hill unexpectedly showed up this season.

So Curtis ran 50 to 60 miles per week in a relaxed seven-minute-per-mile style to build strength and trim muscle mass. At 5 feet 11 and 160 pounds, he is much leaner than in previous seasons.

"My mom pushed me into running because I had run a 6:28 mile in the second grade," Curtis said. "I played soccer for seven years, but she told me I wasn't good enough to play high school soccer and that running was where my talent lay."

Curtis finally listened to her and began running with the Howard County Junior Striders three days a week in the seventh grade.

He didn't become a serious runner until high school, but has run in

37 straight varsity races since his freshman season.

"He's durable. No one else has done that," Carnahan said. "And no one in all my years has ever won six straight races. No one

has accomplished as much at this point as he has. He has a long way to go, but he might be the best runner ever at Oakland Mills."

Curtis was second-team All-Metro last season and first-team All-Howard County.

He has won these invitationals: Howard County, Westminster, Arundel, Pallotti and Harford. He also has won a quad meet. He has the Lancer Invitational this Saturday and one more quad meet before the county championship Oct. 27.

At Arundel Curtis beat his chief Class 2A state competition, Jack Longley of South River, a first-team All-Metro pick last season. He also beat Gilman's Ted Lord, another first-team All-Metro pick, by one second at Arundel. Curtis made up 50 yards and caught Lord at the wire.

Curtis' only loss was to Calvert Hall's first-team All-Metro Jonathan Dietrich by two seconds at the Jack Griffin Invitational in the first meet of the season.

For now his chief worry is teammate Steve Petro, who recorded the third-fastest time at Harford.

"He knows how I race and I wouldn't put it past him to beat me," Curtis said.

Curtis also has to watch out for Wilde Lake's Faisan Hasan, who finished fourth in the county last season.

Wilde Lake is Oakland Mills' chief rival at the county championship, because the Wildecats won the Howard County Invitational.

"We want to win the county title because we've lost three straight years," Curtis said.

Curtis lives in the Wilde Lake school district, but he is able to

attend Oakland Mills because his mother, Virginia, teaches English at Oakland Mills.

"Some kids blossom early; some kids blossom late," Carnahan said. "Greg has taken it up a notch every year."

Curtis also runs indoor and outdoor track. He won the outdoor state Class 2A 1,600-meter run in 4:23 and was third in the 800. He finished second in the state indoor 1,600. He was part of the state champion 4X800 relay indoors and outdoors.

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