Hereford's Carter, Causey embracing role as team leaders

Juniors are big reason for Bulls' recent success in cross country

  • Hereford juniors Sara Carter, left, and Erin Causey are a big reason for the Bulls' recent success in cross country.
Hereford juniors Sara Carter, left, and Erin Causey are a big… (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun )
August 27, 2012|By Jeff Seidel | For The Baltimore Sun

Sara Carter and Erin Causey met during their freshman year at Hereford. The two girls discovered they had a number of similarities and eventually became best friends.

Both girls loved running, and they were very good, especially in cross country. Carter finished second in the Class 3A state championship race last year while Causey was fifth as Hereford dominated the rest of field to win a second consecutive team title.

Now juniors, Carter and Causey are team captains this season as they aim to bring a third straight state championship to the Baltimore County school.

Bailey Wilhelm and Emily VandeWater served as senior leaders for the 2011 team, Hereford coach Jason Bowman said, but their departure means Carter and Causey will be the veteran role models for the rest of the team this year.

They spent the summer working to develop a team bond and grow together. Carter and Causey are already two of the Baltimore area's top runners, and they've found success as captains before the Bulls have competed in a race this season.

"I am really happy with the vibe of the team this year," Bowman said. "The attitude is 100 percent positive. I can't guarantee that we will be as successful as we have been the last two years, but I know the conditions are right for success -- and that in large part [is due] to the great leadership they provide."

Both girls spent plenty of time looking for ways to improve this summer. Falling just short of individual state titles last season, Carter and Causey pushed themselves harder while working out.

Causey ran over 400 miles this summer, and Carter was slowed by some injury problems before picking up the pace again. She began running 30-40 miles a week and made it up to about 50 miles per week by summer's end.

But the captain's duties add more work, and both girls clearly enjoy it. They organized team runs throughout the summer, and the Bulls often got together a few days per week. They coordinate a team page on Facebook and set up team dinners, along with other activities.

The captains want to continue Hereford's recent tradition of arranging a pasta dinner for the team on the night before a race. It's a way to get carbohydrates and have some fun, especially before big events.

Carter said they want to make sure every runner feels like she is a part of the team, something which draws everyone together. It's easy to see how close the Hereford team is because they're always connected at big races -- walking, talking, laughing and smiling.

They often resemble one big happy family, and they'd like to stay that way this season.

"You're out there for the team, not the individual," Carter said. "We want each other to do well. We've got really strong team goals this year. We just want our team to keep having the success it's been having."

That's where captains come in. Causey said she and Carter will work to keep everyone on the team fired up and confident this season. The tough part of being a captain is if Carter and Causey have a bad day, they need to push it to the side, which isn't always an easy task.

"We'd still have to be really positive about it for the team," Causey said. "We've got to stay positive for the whole, which I think helps us. We're also helping ourselves be more confident in our abilities."

Gerard Filosa, a cross country coach at Pikesville for the past seven years, said Hereford's ability to connect as a group is a big reason the Bulls have found so much success in recent years.

"They've always had that great chemistry," Filosa said. "They've always had strong captains that brought the group together, and they're always a dangerous team because of how well they work together."

The Hereford girls were dominant last fall. They won the Baltimore County championship meet and ran away from the pack in the Class 3A North Region and Class 3A state title meets.

Hereford beat River Hill by 66 points in the state championship race. The Bulls put five runners in the top 22, a week after they swept the top four spots in the region meet.

Causey said the team knows they'll have a target on their back due to the success of the past few years, and Carter added the captains want to keep everything rolling along.

"We just want our team to keep having the success it's been having," Carter said. "So far, it's been looking good."

The two runners enjoyed talking about their jobs as captains but were more uncomfortable talking about their own careers. They could wind up battling against each other for the top spot in the Class 3A state title race this season.

But no matter what happens on the race course, there's no question that both girls are taking the captain's job seriously. They want to run well themselves but also hope to be leaders that help Hereford continue as one of the state's top cross country teams.

"The younger kids look up to them not only because they are great runners, but they are also excellent students, and perhaps most importantly, good people," Bowman said.

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