It's a tougher hill to climb

Running: Glenelg's Carrie Selmer, last year's girls 1A cross country champion, has a tougher row to hoe in 2A, but her genes help her chances.

October 14, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Shortly after sunrise, five days a week this past summer, Carrie Selmer and her Glenelg cross country teammates ran.

They ran in the heat. They ran in the rain.

As the girls team captain for the second year, Selmer helped to plan the runs with boys captain Jake Hartman. She led the warm-ups and the cool-downs, taking her captain's position seriously.

That's the type of runner Selmer is -- serious.

She would say determined.

Such determination, combined with a good mix of speed and endurance and a trademark kick at the end of races, propelled her to the state Class 1A title last season.

She and Alicia Adams (1992) are the only Glenelg girls to win state cross country titles.

Now a senior, Selmer faces a much greater -- some would say nearly impossible -- challenge in trying to repeat as a state champ, because Glenelg has moved from 1A to 2A and the competition in the latter division is fierce.

For starters, there's defending state champ Cori Koch of Towson. Koch ran 19:27 over Hereford's state course last season, while Selmer ran 20:48. Three other returning 2A runners also ran faster times, including Trish O'Connell of Catonsville.

But Selmer defeated O'Connell this season with a fourth-place finish in the Lancer Invitational.

Another girl Selmer must beat is sophomore Jessica Hanlin of North Hagerstown, a school that dropped from 3A to 2A. Selmer's second-place finishes in the Clear Spring and Brunswick invitationals this season were both to Hanlin.

"But I cut the margin down to 10 seconds at Brunswick," Selmer said.

Selmer, who won this season's Howard County Invitational, knows all too well about brutal competition. She faced it in her first three seasons, going against River Hill's Lee McDuff, a perennial Howard County cross country and track champion who joined Selmer as a state cross country titlist last season.

McDuff has graduated, giving Selmer, who missed last season's county race with an illness, a better shot at her first county title.

Although lacking McDuff's natural ability, Selmer enjoys the benefit of something most runners don't have -- a running family.

Her father and mother, Mike and Kathleen, both ran track at Northwestern High in Prince George's County. Mike operates a popular Web site for runners, as well as coaching the indoor and outdoor track teams at Glenelg. Kathleen plans to run Saturday in the the Baltimore Marathon.

Selmer's three older brothers also ran for Gleneg.

Chris, who will graduate in December from Western Maryland College and plans to run in the Baltimore Marathon, won four individual state titles in track, including the 500 and 800 indoors his senior year and the 800 outdoors his junior and senior years. He also was a member of two state 3,200-relay titlist teams.

Brian, now a sophomore at Salisbury University, was a county 1,600 outdoor champion and, when a freshman, was a member with Chris of the state indoor 3,200-relay champions.

Phil, a freshman at Lynchburg, was a county champ in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

The family's idea of a fun vacation, other than hiking 21 miles in New York's Adirondack Mountains, is to run a road race together, such as the Midnight 8K they've run for the past five years in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Carrie said she feels she has to live up to the family name, but that there's not too much pressure on her to do that.

"Running is one of the best parts of my life, and is something I want to do all my life," she said.

The 800, an event she won indoors in the county meet last season, seems to be the family's ideal distance. And a strong kick is a family trademark.

One of Carrie's top memories was her ground-closing kick and 2:24 split time as the anchor on Glenelg's state-championship 3,200-relay team last season.

"Carrie is not a natural distance runner," her father said. "A lot of girls make a big splash their freshman year. Carrie wasn't even the top freshman runner on her own team. She's worked hard to get where she is."

Winning the state cross country title is not her top memory. It was beating McDuff for the county 800 indoor title.

"I had finished second to her [McDuff] in the 1,600, 3,200 and 3,200 relay," Selmer said. "I was crying and it was the last of my four races that day."

It also was the only time she ever beat McDuff.

Selmer, who carries a weighted 3.93 grade-point average and scored 1,230 on the SAT, said she plans to run competitively in college and is looking mainly at Division I schools.

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