Two schools are likely to dominate the county's track and field meet, which opens today at Mount Hebron High School.
Hammond and Oakland Mills will slug it out for the boys title. Hammond is expected to win the girls title easily, with Oakland Mills one of several schoolsthat will battle for second place.
Oakland Mills is a slight favorite to win its first county outdoor track title for Coach Caskie Lewis-Clapper. She has coachedthe team to four indoor titles.
The Scorpions are top-seeded in 11 of 18 events, including all four relays. They are strong in distance running, sprinting, the shot, discus and pole vault.
Oakland Mills' 3,200-meter relay team of Tim Brenza, Bill Dye, Mike Vanghel and Joe Drissel recorded the fastest time in that event by a county team,running an 8:06 at the Penn Relays.
The Scorpions have speedster Eric Graham, top-seeded in the 100, 200 and 400. He'll also run the 800 relay. That team also has Joe Drissel top-seeded in both the 800 and 1,600 meters, giving them a top-flight running lineup. Drissel, who has not raced lately due to an injury, still is expected to producein the county meet.
"We're definitely solid in all the running events," said Gerry Clapper, assistant coach in the husband-wife coaching team.
Oakland Mills' other two top seeds are Korey Singleton inthe shot and Blaine Hart in the pole vault -- events in which Hammond will be weak. Scorpion Rob Bundy is second-seeded in the discus.
Hammond's strength will be in the jumping events. There, Oakland Mills will be weak.
The Bears are top-seeded in all five jumps, with Andrew Tetteh rated number one in the high jump and triple jump -- he's the defending county champion in the latter -- Robert Sharps ratedtops in the 300 hurdles and 110 hurdles, and Andre Boone top-rated in the long jump.
But the Bears also have depth in the jumps. AndreHopkins is second-seeded in the 110 hurdles and third-seeded in the 300 hurdles. Kyle Jefferson is second-seeded in the long jump; his brother Chris is third-seeded in the triple jump. Andre Boone is third-seeded in the 110 hurdles for Hammond.
Glenelg and Howard should offer Hammond the biggest challenge in the jumping events, with Glenelg's Jeff Slack seeded second and Mike Goldberg third in the high jump.
Howard has John Finney seeded third in the long jump, Chuck Jettsecond in the triple jump and Mike McClenney second in the 300 hurdles.
"We have to hope that those two teams can break up Hammond's jumpers and hurdlers," Gerry Clapper said.
Hammond coach Pete Hughes thinks his team has a good shot at defending its county title.
"It will be close," Hughes said. "The only way they'll beat us by 25 points is if we have a very bad day."
Hughes has only four seniors on his team and, early in the year, thought the team would be a year away from another county title.
"But we may not have to wait," Hughes said. "Oakland Mills is very strong and has just about every event covered. We'll be pulling for Pat Rodrigues (of Centennial) in the 1,600 and 3,200."
Rodrigues shoots for his fourth straight 3,200 county title and owns the outdoor county record of 9:51. He has missedmost of the season with a stress fracture but has a 9:56.1 under hisbelt.
Rodrigues appears to be rounding into shape, based on a fine 34:50 effort in the Clyde's 10-kilometer road race held 10 days ago.
Also a threat to score points in both the 3,200 and 1,600 is Glenelg's Gerard Hogan, second-seeded in both events.
Oakland Mills has a double punch in the pole vault with Blaine Hart and Todd Colby expected to finish one-two.
Atholton has Tony Dedmond, a defending champion in the 400 who is seeded sixth this year.
Hammond, which finished third in the county last year behind Glenelg and Centennial, should win overwhelmingly this year.
The Bears have 16 seeds among the top three in the 13 total individual events.
Freshman sensation Kisha Jett is top-seeded in four individual events. Her 11.8 seconds time in the 100 is the fastest in the Baltimore area this year, and only one-tenth of a second off the area record. Her chiefcompetition in the 200 will be teammate Mekka Richardson and, in the400, Oakland Mills' Christine Thomas. Jett beat Thomas head-to-head earlier this season.
Jett is a solid favorite to win the long jump. Her official 16-feet, 4-inch jump is over a foot better than the next-best recorded effort.
"And she's been doing 18 feet in practice," Hammond coach Joe Russo said.
Richardson, last year's 100-meterchamp, may have to surrender that title this year but is seeded first in the 300 hurdles, second in both the 100 and 200 and third in thetriple jump.
Samantha Andersch is seeded among the top three in three events for Hammond. She won the 1,600 and 3,200 last year but isseeded second to Glenelg's Kate Terry in the 3,200 and second to Atholton's Vonda Jones in the 1,600. Andersch is top-seeded in the 800.
"Samantha really looks strong right now," Russo said. "The 800 should be a great race, but Samantha beat the second seed (Vonda Jones) head-to-head on Wednesday."
Jackie Rieschick is seeded third in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200 for the Bears.
Several teams will vie for second place. Defending champion Glenelg has three top seeds, as do Mount Hebron and Howard.
Howard's defending county champ in the 100, Linda Schneider, is seeded only third in that event because of Jett and Richardson.
Centennial, with four third seeds and three second seeds, has enough quality depth to take a run at second place, where they finished last year.
Oakland Mills lacks a top seed but has five second seeds and one third. Scorpion Christine Thomas is second seed in the 400 and third in the 200.