Oakland Mills' Petro moves out in front Not second best After chasing senior teammate Greg Curtis last season, Steve Petro is the one being chased on cross country courses this year.

November 05, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Last season Oakland Mills cross country runner Steve Petro spent his races trying to catch senior teammate Greg Curtis.

Petro finished second to Curtis at the county, region and state championships.

This season everyone has chased Petro, a senior whose regional championship victory Thursday was his ninth straight win after an opening-day loss to Calvert Hall's Cory Smith at the Griffin Invitational.

Petro has won five invitationals (Howard County, Westminster, Pallotti, Arundel and Harford) plus the county and regional titles and two quad meets.

His winning time of 15 minutes, 58 seconds at the county championships was 13 seconds better than Curtis' winning time the year before.

And Petro generally has run faster times than Curtis all season.

He's looking forward to winning a state title Saturday at Hereford -- a feat that would complete the Curtis chase for Petro.

It won't be quite as satisfying a victory as it was for Curtis, because Curtis' win led Oakland Mills to a state title -- a title the Scorpions are unlikely to win this season.

Oakland Mills coach Steve Carnahan thinks that the parallels between Curtis and Petro are amazing.

Curtis also lost his first race last season to a Calvert Hall runner and then went undefeated.

"Both are extremely conscientious in their work habits," Carnahan said. "Both logged extremely high mileage during the summer before their senior year. Both are self-starters. Both are intelligent. Both ran indoor and outdoor track."

Curtis is now running for Brown. Petro, who has a 3.4 GPA and 1,360 on the Scholastic Assessment Test, has narrowed his choices to Haverford, Richmond, Maryland and William & Mary.

Petro, a first-team All-Metro pick last season, probably will face his toughest competition at states from Wilde Lake's Faisal Hasan, who has beaten him only once -- at Linganore last season.

Hasan finished second, 13 seconds behind Petro at counties, and second by 27 seconds at regions.

"Faisal was coming off an illness and didn't really push in either race," said Petro.

Petro, who likes to run in front, went out early in both races and no one went with him -- much to his surprise.

By not going with him, was Hasan trying to set him up psychologically for a state championship upset? Petro doesn't know.

But the hilly Hereford course is made to Petro's liking.

After states, Petro is looking forward to the Foot Locker Northeast Regional in New York, where the top eight finishers qualify for nationals in San Diego.

"No guys from Maryland have qualified in about five years," Petro said. He'll meet up with Calvert Hall's Smith again at that race and looks forward to the rematch.

Petro's early speed should help him at the Foot Locker Regional. "In order to win you have to go out in a 4:45 first mile," Petro said.

Petro (5 feet 11, 144 pounds) has been running five-minute opening miles at his races.

He ran a 16:36 and finished 45th at the Foot Locker Regional last season. Curtis was 27th, nine seconds ahead of Petro.

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