Ellie Gonzalez, 2014, The Catholic High School of Baltimore
by Katherine Dunn
When Ellie Gonzalez started running the summer before her freshman year at The Catholic High School of Baltimore, that decision set off a string of cross country championships, course records and Athlete of the Year accolades.
A three-time overall IAAM cross country champion who completed her high school career with an All-America finish at the Nike Cross Nationals, Gonzalez set records on many courses including Oregon Ridge. She was the Gatorade Maryland Runner of the Year as a senior in 2014 and is Varsity Sports Network’s No. 2 Girls Cross Country Runner of the Decade.
“Most of the time when people watched my daughter race, the compliment I got was that when the gun went off, Ellie went out hard and she just ran cross country courses super strong,” said her father Anibal Gonzalez, who ran at Mount St. Mary’s and coached her at Catholic. “She was such a dynamically strong runner over the course. It didn’t matter whether they were flat or rolling courses, she attacked them equally as strong.”
She certainly attacked the course at the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast Regional race at WakeMed Soccer Complex in Cary, North Carolina. Gonzalez ran a 5K PR to finish second in 17:47. A week later, in her final high school cross country race, she ran 17:52.10 at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon to finish 12th and earn All-America honors.
With a strong track resume to complement her cross country success, Gonzalez was a two-time Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Year, only the fifth girl to win the award twice.
As a freshman at Dartmouth, Gonzalez finished 17th in the Ivy League Championships with a 6,000-meter PR of 21:17.8. She also ran track her freshman year before being diagnosed with a congenital issue in her right foot, according to her father.
She took a leave of absence from her studies and returned home for treatment to correct the issue, but she has not returned to racing.
Like many distance runners, Gonzalez swam competitively when she was younger. Her parents were also runners.
As a freshman at Catholic, Gonzalez finished second in the IAAM C Conference championship, but the following year she broke the course record at Oregon Ridge by 31 seconds to finish in 17:59. She posted the best time in any conference by almost a minute and a half and improved her time on the 5,000-meter course by a minute and 11 seconds in one year.
In her junior year, she set course records on two other 5K courses, at the Spiked Shoe Invitational (19:21) at Johns Hopkins and at the Battle of the Potomac (18:49), where she was the first girl to break 19 minutes on the Smokey Glen Farm course in Gaithersburg. She also won the Maryland/D.C. Private Schools championship and was named The Baltimore Sun’s Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Gonzalez, who is currently finishing her degree at Dartmouth, didn’t run as many races as a senior while making college visits and preparing for the Nike Cross Nationals. She won her third IAAM championship, once again by more than a minute.
On the track, Gonzalez won 16 IAAM championships from the 800 meter to 3,200 meters. She swept the 1,600 meters for four years indoors and won the 1,600 and 3,200 meters her final three years outdoors. She was the Gatorade Maryland Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year as a junior.
In her senior year, she finished second in the mile at the Penn Relays with a PR of 4:47.26, the eighth fastest time in the country that season, according to milesplit.com.
“She was definitely a more prolific, dynamic cross country runner than she was on the track. Her second place in Penn Relays in the mile, it was pretty amazing, but when I look at her as an athlete, I just see an absolute monster on the cross country course,” Anibal Gonzales said.
This feature is part of Varsity Sports Network’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, as we rank and publish feature stories on our picks for the greatest Baltimore area high school athletes and coaches during our first decade of coverage (Fall 2010-Spring 2020).
VSN’s Greatest Girls Cross Runners of the Decade – (Fall 2010 thru Fall 2019)