Graham Bazell is a rising junior for Atholton High School in Howard County. Using his running experience as a youth, he instantly exploded onto the Cross Country and Track scene. He was second at 2A states as a freshman and since then continued to rise on the national level with an impressive 9:10 2-mile at Nike Outdoor Nationals this past Spring. Graham is only a junior yet is well aware of what he's capable; but he doesn't take any of his natural talent for granted. He is well-known across the state for not only his quick times but his perceptiveness and enjoyment of interacting with a lot of people from all over the nation. Meet the man who literally does it all- maintain a 4.0 GPA, bike, swim, run, as well as figure out the opposite sex.
MoCoRunning: What have you been doing with your summer? Any jobs, girls, etc?
Bazell: This summer I've been doing a lot of running (surprise). Other than that, I lifeguard for a local pool. I don't get paid much but I work a lot of hours and it's an easy job. Now girls...I've decided I'll never figure them out, so I've given up on them.
MoCoRunning: Before high school, you competed in several triathlons. What was that experience like and how did you prepare for them? Is that where your passion for running comes from?
Bazell: I love triathlons. My interest in running at a young age came first but my interest in competing in triathlons was close behind. Triathlons help you get variety in your training, as well as definitely keeping you more aerobically fit than you would be otherwise.
MoCoRunning: How have you been able to fit biking, swimming, and running all in an already-busy high school schedule?
Bazell: This is certainly very difficult, and I just have to make a lot of sacrifices. My biking for the most part is done in the morning, which means getting up at around 5:30. Then I swim after track practice, and this year I didn't end up getting home until around 8:00. Somehow, my grades didn't suffer too much, but this much working out really makes it easier to fall asleep in class.
MoCoRunning: How has it been different to compete for Atholton High School?
Bazell: Before high school I competed for a youth club, the D.C. Redwings, and three of the coaches from that club currently coach at Eleanor Roosevelt. I love the Atholton program, but I would say as an athlete the element that makes things extremely difficult (as opposed to the youth program I ran for) is the fact that our coaching staff is constantly changing. I feel that if I could train with a consistent style and philosophy then I could perhaps compete better as well. However, the coaching at Atholton (despite the different styles) has been great.
MoCoRunning: Since you entered the high school scene, you have been one of the top guys in Howard County all year-long. But THE best was also one of your teammates and now a Florida Gator... have you ever felt overshadowed by Andrew Revelle?
Bazell: I have never felt overshadowed, and Andrew deserves every second of the attention he gets. He is extremely dedicated to both running and school, and a fabulous guy to know.
MoCoRunning: In Cross Country races, you always seemed to go out with Revelle then struggle with his pace. Have you ever beaten him in anything beit a workout or race or a game of rock paper scissors? Can we expect the same racing strategy out of you now that he graduated or was he the reason for the aggression?
Bazell: I did beat Andrew once, the only time we both raced the 3200, at the Howard County outdoor championships. But it was likely just a rough day for him. Regarding strategy, every time you race you gain a little more experience that you can learn from. So I like to think that my race strategy is constantly changing and evolving, but we'll see.
MoCoRunning: Any plans or goals for footlocker? What is your training like over the summer to prepare?
Bazell: Certainly Footlocker is the major goal for my season. This summer I have been running 50 mpw, swimming about 6 hours a week and biking about 4 hours a week. Swimming was still a pretty high amount this summer, but I toned down my biking a bit because of my high (for me) running mileage. Before this summer, the highest mileage I had done over the summer or during the season was about 35 mpw.
MoCoRunning: While you've had success in Cross Country, you really made yourself known on a national level in track. Can you talk about the 4:25 you ran Freshman year?
Bazell: I ran the 4:25 shortly before outdoor counties if I can recall correctly. I ran it at about 9:00 at night, and the conditions were absolutely perfect, with just a very slight breeze. But I must confess that the exact time was 4:25.99.
MoCoRunning: In Indoor you continued to improve-- but moreso in the 2-mile. Talk about your 9:13 3200 at the Montgomery Invite against Mike Spooner.
Bazell: The Montgomery Invite race was kind of a breakthrough for me both physically and mentally. My freshman year at states I ran a 9:25 3200 which I thought was a really good run, but my 9:13 was just unexpected. I managed to get past Jason Weller from Pennsylvania (even though he was tired from the mile) as well as Mike Spooner from Virginia. Throughout the race, the big scoreboard clock was messed up so all the times were off. I had no idea what I had run and when they announced it afterwards I didn't believe it because I was stumbling around and disoriented.
MoCoRunning: What made you decide to run the 2-mile again at Nike Outdoor Nationals (NON)?
Bazell: I've always felt that I don't have enough pure speed to be a truly competitive miler, and most of my great success during the season had been at the 2 mile distance. The race was ridiculous (won in 9:05 in the slowest of three heats). NON overall was an incredible experience, and to see Matt Centrowitz blow past Craig Forys in the last 150 meters was an absolutely incredible and motivational sight.
MoCoRunning: Everybody knows you're named after a cracker. Do you have any preference in terms of Graham Crackers? Which kind is your favorite?
Bazell: This is a difficult decision, but I'm gonna have to go with chocolate. Chocolate Graham Crackers are amazing!
MoCoRunning: You get to take one of your feared competitors on a date: Joey Thompson, Andrew Revelle, or JP Allera. Which one is it?
Bazell: Sorry Joey and JP, but I would certainly have to go with Andrew. He is one of the most kind, hardworking, dedicated, and noble guys I have ever known. In fact, with all the trouble ladies have been causing me lately, I think asking him on a date is a great idea!
MoCoRunning: Now that Andrew is gone, you are the top returner in the county and state since Atholton moves up to 3A. What do you think of your chances? And what do you think of Howard Senior Joey Thompon opting to do Cross Country instead of soccer?
Bazell: Being the "top returner" is more of a curse I'd say. All the stress and expectations are laid upon your shoulders, and you try to do the best you can. But I think along with these expectations one of my biggest responsibilities is to set a standard and an example for my fellow competitors. I know when I was younger and now as well, there are many runners that I look up to. Joey Thompson is a great guy and an incredible competitor, and I look forward to competing against him. I have no doubt he will be a threat. And I believe that was a smart decision on his part to run instead of play soccer, since running is obviously his talent.
MoCoRunning: I know you are very knowledgable of the entire running scene in not only your county, not only our state of Maryland, but the entire nation. Are there any other runners you've looked up to, tried to model yourself after (in terms of training, race strategy, or whatever), etc?
Bazell: There are many runners I admire and look up to. The most obvious is Matt Centrowitz (former Broadneck). Matt is an awesome guy and a fabulous racer. His steep ascent, especially his senior year, was inspirational. Matt is always there to answer my questions and share his insight. Another runner I greatly admire is Steven Duplinsky (former Georgetown Prep), who is a very good friend of mine. Steven won the ITU Triathlon World Championship as well as the World Duathlon Championship twice. Steven and I have much correspondence through phone and email, and he assists me with cross-training as well as my many questions. And he now competes for Stanford, which has a great running program. Other competitors I look up to are Andrew Revelle, my teammate and friend who has set a great example for myself and my teammates; Alison Smith, another teammate who is a dedicated worker and Footlocker Nationals qualifier; Andrew Palmer, an awesome guy who is the national Freshman Mile Champion; Mike Menase for his inspiring fortitude and outspokenness (which one might argue is more of a negative trait); and finally Craig Mottram, the great Australian runner currently making Africans fearful.
MoCoRunning: Who is some of the toughest competition you're going to have to face?
Bazell: I'm sure there will be many currently unknown competitors this season who will throw down some great times and performances. Chris Moen and Joey Thompson will both certainly be in the lead pack. Maybe I can get a shot at Joey at the state meet, since he's been able to beat me the past two years in the outdoor track 3200 race.
MoCoRunning: Who do you predict to win Counties? Who are some of the runners in your county you respect the most, and why?
Bazell: The county meet will certainly be competitive. Two runners I expect to be certainly in contention are Joey Thompson and Mike Feroe. I can personally vouch for Mike's extremely hard work this summer, and he is a guy to look up to because of his work ethic and his always positive attitude. As well, my teammate Dylan Widger has been a fantastic training partner this summer and he will be a strong asset for Atholton. Joey Thompson is extremely talented and personable, and just thinking about him helps me run a little harder :). Finally, Adam Davis is a great runner and one of the most upbeat guys I know, and he's always great to chat with.
MoCoRunning: Thanks Graham, and good luck this year.
Bazell: Thanks everyone for your support, and good luck to all my competitors in this upcoming season!