When asked to explain why junior Collin Crilly had such a strong 2012 campaign, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School cross country coach Tom Arnold talked about his top runner’s progression throughout the season, his approach to races and his emergence as a team leader.
But what Arnold and Crilly believe really sets him apart is the runner’s desire to be the first to cross the finish line each and every time he takes to a course.
“We were up in the Wayne Tennent Invitational [in Pennsylvania] … a few weeks back [and] he finished second,” Arnold said. “He ran a [15 minute, 31 second time], a blazing fast time, much faster than he had ever done, but he was as angry as he could be. The kid who beat him was a really good runner from Pennsylvania [Chris Berry of Central Bucks West]. Collin runs his [personal best time], but he’s really mad for a few hours afterwards because he didn’t win.
“That kind of sums him up. He always wants to win. He can’t always win, but he always wants to.”
Crilly still showed some signs of disappointment when asked about the race.
“I wasn’t too happy about that,” he said before practice Friday. “I was in first most of the race and he got me at the end. I just felt like I could have won. He outkicked me. I felt I should have won the race.
“I’m very competitive. I hate losing. I’ve always been that way.”
That feeling of loss is not something Crilly experienced much this season. On Oct. 27, he won his first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference individual crown at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, Va. He ran the rugged course in 16:36 to best runner-up Chris Hoyle of Gonzaga by seven seconds.
His performance, plus the third-place finish by teammate Andrew Smith, pushed the Falcons into second place behind league powerhouse Gonzaga, 33-43, in the final standings.
“That was actually a good race,” he said. “That’s a tough course. I hadn’t had great races on it the last two years, so this year I finally put everything together and had a great race and was able to win that.”
Crilly concluded his 2012 campaign by taking fourth place at the Maryland-D.C. Private School Cross Country Championships last weekend. He completed the Derwood-based Agricultural History Farm Park course in 16:12 to help the Falcons place second to Georgetown Day, 69-90.
Crilly opened the season by capturing first place at the September Chancellor Invitational in Virginia in a time of 16:32.8 and he took second at the 61st Spiked Shoe Invitational in Baltimore in early September, falling to Linganore’s Patrick DuBoyce by 10 seconds. Crilly also placed eighth at the Oatlands Invitational in Virginia in a time of 16:18.
“I think it’s been a very good season,” Arnold said. “He’s gotten faster every race except for WCACs, but that’s a very slow course. He’s raced very impressively and intelligently each time.
“I don’t think he could do anything better, which is a great compliment from me. He does the miles over the summer; his workouts are impeccable. He comes in and does the voluntary runs in the morning in the cold and the dark. He just dots his `I’ and crosses his `T.’”
Arnold is also impressed with Crilly’s leadership ability after taking a backseat role to a group of seniors a year ago.
“He was more quiet and unassuming and now he’s the strong team captain and leader ... he’s taken on other responsibilities besides being a good runner,” the Falcons coach said.