All you need to do is look at athletes like Kenya Warfield, Stephanie Morningstar and Jeff LiBerge to understand why Westminster is favored to repeat as boys and girls track champions in the county, CentralMaryland Conference and, perhaps, their region.
All three are multisport athletes who could win titles in a variety of events.
Warfield won county titles in both hurdles events and the high jump last year; Morningstar won three state titles at 800- , 1,600- and3,200-meters and also ran a few successful 400s; and LiBerge is a budding decathlete who was the county's top pole vaulter and also competes in jumping, throwing and hurdling events.
Though they are the best of the bunch, they are typical of the Owls -- talented, versatile and who start making an impact as soon as they get involved in the program. Warfield and Morningstar are just juniors this year; LiBerge, who transferred from France last year, is now a senior.
The restof the county will chase WHS. Although it's doubtful anybody will catch them, the races for second could be interesting.
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY EAGLES
The Eagles have had a long line of outstanding sprinters,including Jason Tilghman, Mitch Williams and the most recent standout, Steve Foreman. Though coach John Seaman says he's on his second straight class of solid freshmen sprinters, he hasn't seen one to replace Foreman, now at Frostburg State University.
"We don't have the dominant sprinter we've had for the last 20 years or so," Seaman said.
Still, the Eagles should do well in the county and battle for the Monocacy Valley Athletic League title with the likes of hurdler Kirk Lindsay (county champ in both events last year), high jumper Jim Wright and a distance corps that includes members of the state Class 1Achampion cross country team.
The girls, meanwhile, knew it would be a rebuilding year; they just didn't know how much rebuilding they'd have to do. FSK suffered a pair of losses to injuries.
Shelly Koons, one of the county's best jumpers over the last two years, will undergo exploratory arthroscopic surgery on one of her knees the next few days. Coach Tom Hill said major surgery likely will follow. Hill also had high hopes for freshman Angie Brown, but she'll miss the season after suffering injuries in an auto crash.
Still, several goodreturning sprinters (led by Dani Deeds) should help in the --es and short relays, and Amy Dunn should do well in the hurdles. And with 45girls on the squad, Hill has plenty of bodies, just not the depth and experience he's used to.
Hill figures Boonsboro and Smithsburg as the top MVAL teams, with the Eagles back toward the middle of the pack.
Liberty has a good mix of experience and youth on the girls team, led by the sprinting and jumping corps of Julie Cox, Dawn Hayen, Sandy Hartman and Melanie Russo (the latter also a sprinter). The Lions also have a good group of distance runners.
"We're going to be as good as, if not better than, last year," Coach BradHill said. "I also have a real solid group of freshmen girls."
Unfortunately, the group may not be strong enough to catch either Westminster or, in the CMC, Linganore, the state Class 3A indoor champion.Still, several of the Lions should advance to, and do well in, the state meet.
With sprinter Dan Moore graduated, the Lions now will depend on hurdler/sprinter Jeff Brown and long sprinter/jumper Scott Lingle to lead the team. Tim Frey also returns to the weight events after playing baseball last spring.
"Our depth is still not what we'd like it to be," Hill said.
NORTH CARROLL PANTHERS
After being among the top programs in the county during the middle of the decade, the Panthers had a drop-off in talent and number of runners over the past few years. The total numbers may not yet be as high as the coaching staff would like, but the freshmen and sophomores give cause for hope.
The boys will be paced by distance runner Matt Davis, county champ at 1,600 meters last year, and thrower Britt Britton in the shot and discus. Newcomer Adam Franklin, a junior who also played basketball, should be a welcome addition to the jumping corps.
"I thinkwe're going to be christened early," Coach Stu Krise said, noting that the Linganore Invitational is the first meet on the schedule. "Butthe kids that I have out there are the kind I want to have on my team."
The girls will be paced by hurdler Ashlee Douglass and throwerMelissa Poznaniak, both of who scored in last spring's state meet. But a host of newcomers will have to make up for the graduation of jumper Kristin Owings and points lost to other attrition.
"We're going to win a lot of battles and lose a lot of wars," Krise said of the girls, noting that several will win many events, but the team itself might not fare so well.
SOUTH CARROLL CAVALIERS
With a talented group of middle-distance and distance runners, the boys team should improve upon last year. Dave Hammel, Jim Clarius and Matt Crill lead that pack.
Also back is Sean Kessler, one of the area's top pole vaulters.