Running to daylight

Once overshadowed by rivals and even a schoolmate, Atholton junior Andrew Revelle has surged to the front of the county pack.

From The Cover

September 21, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun Reporter

Wherever Andrew Revelle turned, a shadow loomed over him.

In various preseason previews last fall, Atholton's top cross country runner was barely mentioned as one of the county's top harriers, a group that usually consisted of River Hill's Sergiy Zubko and Nicholas Keane, Centennial's Brian Harvey, Wilde Lake's Scott Gayer and John Christon, Mount Hebron's Reed Ulrich and Howard's Zach Dickerson.

Revelle eventually took center stage when he captured the Class 2A state title as a sophomore. But even then, the spotlight landed on classmate Alison Smith, who also won a state crown and was named The Sun's All-Metro female Runner of the Year.

Smith still is a Raider - and a favorite to repeat as Class 2A state champion - but Revelle's days of anonymity are over. Revelle, a junior, is widely regarded as one of the top runners not only in the county, but also in the state.

Revelle, who once targeted his more publicized competitors, now himself is a target.

"I think it's going to be tougher," Revelle, 16, said of duplicating last year's run to the state crown, "but I think that's going to motivate me even more - to have guys behind me or in front of me worry about where I should be. It motivated me to have a target on other guys in the county."

In less than three years, Revelle has moved from the middle of the pack to the front, and Atholton coach Elizabeth DeFrances has her husband to thank.

Roch DeFrances, the boys varsity soccer coach, huddled together with his coaching staff two years ago and made the decision to cut a tall, wiry freshman from the junior varsity squad.

Revelle, who had played four years of recreation-league soccer, had hoped to use soccer to stay in shape for basketball, his favorite sport. So he turned to cross country.

A promising season was marred by a sprained right ankle suffered during an intramural basketball game, but Elizabeth DeFrances said she noticed Revelle's attributes immediately.

"He's got a very natural stride," DeFrances said. "He runs very efficiently. He likes to run, so that makes it very easy."

Revelle's sophomore campaign began with four top-five finishes in the first five major invitationals. The turning point of the season, according to Revelle, took place at the Georgetown Prep Classic in October.

Competing in the Division II race, Revelle nearly caught Kyle Gaffney of Silver Spring's James Hubert Blake at the finish line with a tremendous kick. Although he finished second in a time of 16 minutes, 54.47 seconds, only two metro area runners - Broadneck's Matthew Centrowitz (16:22.85) and McDonogh's Tristram Thomas (16:40.14) - had faster times.

"It showed me that I could still kick really, really hard - like I hadn't done before," said Revelle, who experimented with several different race strategies. "I've had OK kicks, but I think that was one of the best I ever had. So that gave me a lot of confidence to know that I can maintain a tough pace and still kick pretty hard."

A fourth-place showing at the county championships lifted Revelle's morale even higher. But at the Class 2A South regional meet, Revelle finished second to Dickerson.

Revelle still shakes his head at the memory of that setback.

"I came into that race, thinking I was just going to win the race easily, which is just a horrible way to go into a race," he said. "And I told myself, `I'm never going to do that again. I'm never going to prepare the way I did [for] that race.' I didn't prepare mentally for that race. I just thought I was going to roll in there and win without even trying."

Angered by that performance, Revelle channeled his energies into the state championships and exacted a modicum of redemption when he traversed the arduous course at Hereford High School in Parkton in 17:26. That outing helped him earn a spot on the All-Metro team.

For Revelle's mother, last year - which included a Class 2A state title in the 1,600-meter run in outdoor track - was not terribly surprising. Kate Revelle recalled a memory when Andrew, after watching his mother and two aunts run on a local track, completed four laps at the age of 4.

"He just came out to play, but he wanted to do what we were doing," she said. "All we were doing was trying to exercise. But it was funny. We were amazed."

Kate Revelle said that kind of determination has defined her son for years. In kindergarten, he declined friends' requests to play outside so that he could complete five days' worth of homework in one day.

After having his tonsils removed that same year, Andrew Revelle was told he would have to have some blood drawn. Rather than do the procedure later, he opted to have the blood drawn immediately.

This season, Revelle has exhibited similar willpower to defend his state crown. Unlike the previous summer, he ran six days a week this past summer, averaging as much as 30 miles a week. And he has traded hot dogs, pizza and chocolate chip cookies for salads and bananas.

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