It's getting tougher and tougher to put on an invitational track meet these days.
Just ask Westminster High coach Bill Hill.
Two years ago, he dared to dream that his Westminster Invitational could fill what was to become a major void on the metro-area track calendar -- the Franklin Metric Relays. That meet ended in 1989 after18 years of being organized by Westminster resident Stan Ziolkowski,longtime coach at Franklin High in Baltimore County.
Hill said hehad hoped to expand the field of his annual meet -- which usually draws eight to 12 teams -- to help take the place of the Franklin event, which drew up to 90 teams.
But in high school sports schedules, timing is everything.
Last year, Hill said he could round up the 50 or so volunteers needed to stage such a meet. This year, he said, the problem rested with trying to mesh the use of the Westminster Highfacility with the various holiday schedules from school systems around the region.
What will result Friday is a more intimate meet featuring seven boys and girls teams, including four of the five countyschools.
Also in the field is North County, a school in Anne Arundel County formed by the merger of two smaller schools -- Andover andBrooklyn Park.
Hill, a Hanover, Pa., area resident, also will have the pleasure of watching his daughter, who runs for South Western (Pa.), race.
County teams slated to compete in the meet, which starts at 4 p.m., include Liberty, North Carroll, South Carroll and host Westminster.
In other area track news, Western Maryland College, which had its traditional home opener rained out last weekend, tries again Saturday with a trip to the Messiah Invitational in Grantham, Pa.
In other sports this week:
* Liberty boys lacrosse coach Jim Langrill said he's using Saturday's Mount Hebron Tournament as a tuneup for something a bit more important: Monday night's county showdownat South Carroll (6 p.m. junior varsity, 7:30 varsity).
"We're just going down there for the experience," Langrill said of the four-team Mount Hebron fray. "The last thing I want to do is get a lot of kids hurt and come back Monday and get our butts kicked."
The tournament games won't count toward regional standings, so Liberty's regular-season record is sure to be spotless -- 3-0 -- heading into Monday's game.
Langrill said Tuesday that he doesn't even know the pairings for the daylong event at Mount Hebron in Ellicott City, Howard County.
Joining the host school (2-1 as of Tuesday) in the field is another Howard school, Wilde Lake (0-2), and St. Alban's, a Washingtonprivate school thought to have a strong program, Langrill said.
Mount Hebron usually is one of the better Class 1A/2A schools around and is ranked 18th in the most recent Evening Sun poll, where Liberty is ranked 20th.
Liberty is an honorable mention in The Sun poll, which only ranks the top 10.
* Liberty's girls lacrosse team will see how it stacks up to one of the metro area's top teams tomorrow when the Lions meet St. Mary's of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, at home (5:30 p.m. and 7).
The Saints return several top offensive players from last year's 12-3 team and are ranked third in the metro area by The Sun.
St. Mary's is 2-0 as of Tuesday, while the Lions were 1-1 heading into last night's game against county foe Westminster (after press time).
* Westminster's pitching will get a tough test the next couple of days as the Owls play back-to-back games. Tomorrow, the Owls visit Frederick (4 p.m.), one of the top contenders in the Central Maryland Conference.
On Friday, they travel to Towson, Baltimore County, to face Calvert Hall, one of the perennial powers in the metro area.
The Cardinals (5-0) are ranked fifth by The Sun and third by The Evening Sun. Game time is 3:30 p.m.
* Liberty visits Glenelg of Howard County in a non-league softball game that could boost the rankings of the winner. Liberty is off to a 3-1 start and is an honorable mention in The Sun, which started a softball poll for thefirst time this spring.
Glenelg, meanwhile, is 2-1 and Howard's preseason favorite.
Western Maryland College, meanwhile, opens its Middle Atlantic Conference-Southwest Section in Pennsylvania with a doubleheader at Lebanon Valley College at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Green Terrors were to open league play last weekend with Franklin and Marshall, but that contest was postponed by rain.