If Friday's preliminary bout was any indication, this weekend's Morningstar-White Round II should be a dandy.
And, if Friday's meetingbetween Milford Mill and Francis Scott Key was any indication, this weekend's state Class 1A boys meet could be a barn-burner, too.
The state track meet is on tap this weekend at Western Maryland College, and county teams and athletes figure to be involved in some interesting battles.
Westminster's Stephanie Morningstar, the defending state champion at 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, was swept in those three races by Dulaney (Baltimore County) sensation Amanda White, who burst onto the area running scene during the fall cross country season. Morningstar will be looking for revenge this weekend.
Westminster's girls, meanwhile, will be looking to improve on their fifth-place finish from last year's state meet, but Eleanor Roosevelt (Prince George's County) and Old Mill (Anne Arundel County) were one-two last year and are the teams to beat again. White also elevates Dulaney to a contender this season.
Still, Morningstar should score well for the Owls, as should Kenya Warfield in the high jump and hurdles. Westminster could earn a few more points in the throwing events and the triple jumps.
Westminster's boys have the potential to do much better than their 19th-place showing of last year. Jeff LiBerge could score well in the pole vault, 110 hurdles and discus, and the Owls could get some more points from three relay teams and Matt Avery at 1,600.
But the Owls likely won't be able to compete with the likes ofRoosevelt, Crossland (Prince George's), Gaithersburg and Old Mill, which will rack up points left and right in the running events and some of the field events. A good day by LiBerge and the relay teams could put the Owls in the top 10, though.
Key knows where it's competition is coming from in the Class 1A state meet -- the same place it came from in the regional last Friday. Milford Mill of Baltimore County has a solid crew of middle distance runners and sprinters and can pick up a few points in the jumps.
Key counters with some solid relays, good throwers and three potential scorers in the pole vault, plus its own assortment of strong runners and jumpers (though not as many as the Millers) and hurdler Kirk Lindsay, who should be favored to win both of his events.
Eagles coach John Seaman was concerned after last Friday's meet, though, because none of his three 800-meter runners qualified for the state meet, while a duo from Milford Mill placed one-two.
The girls don't have a shot at team honors, but Crystal Becker could compete for the shot and discus titles and a couple of the relay teams could do well.
None of the county's Class 3A teams has a serious shot at a state title, though sprinter/hurdler Julie Cox, distance ace Jenn Meyers and three relay teams could carry theLions near the top five in the girls meet.
Jumper/hurdler Denine Henderson alone could put South Carroll in the top 20, but she won't have much help, while hurdler Ashlee Douglass and jumper Francine Hewes are North Carroll's best hopes.
On the boys side, Liberty againlooks to be the best of the local lot, led by thrower Tim Frey and jumper Scott Lingle. South Carroll could earn a few points in distances races and North Carroll could earn a couple of points in the 1,600,pole vault and high jump.
Action gets under way Thursday with finals in two relays, the 3,200-meter run, some field events and severalpreliminaries in classes 3A and 4A starting at 3 p.m., while the same events in the 1A and 2A meets is Friday at 3.
The remaining events in all classes start at 10 a.m. Saturday.
In other sports this weekend, two South Carroll doubles teams are headed to this weekend'sstate tennis tournament at the University of Maryland College Park in Prince George's County.
Valee Baker and Shannon Conaway will compete for the girls doubles title, and Kristin Medvetz and Sam Thepvongs will battle for the mixed doubles title.
The preliminary roundsstart Friday at 10 a.m. at the courts next to Cole Field House, withthe semifinals slated for 10 a.m. Saturday and the finals at 1 p.m.