After a season of leaping hurdles, high-jump bars and long-jump pits, North County's Adrienne McCray is leaping continents.
A three-event county champion and a Class 4A 300-meter hurdles state titlist, McCray is headed for the Soviet Union as part of an international student exchange program, her first trip out of the United States.
"They (program organizers) already told us how different things are over there," said McCray. "It's going to be colder over there, andyou have to be careful about drinking the water and even putting your toothbrush in it. They gave us a whole list of things to remember, like bringing your own toilet paper, and so many other things. I justhope I can remember everything."
The 16-year-old Glen Burnie resident is one of 30 high school athletes statewide and the sole Anne Arundel County representative who leaves Tuesday for the nine-day trip sponsored by the Pangaea/Maryland USA Track and Field Team.
McCray's success on the track and her 3.5 grade-point average made her an easy selection for the program, which sought team members who are goodexamples of American high school students.
Four coaches will accompany the team on the trip, which in
cludes a tour of several cities, including Moscow, Klin, Krasnodar and Sochi. The track meet will take place in Krasnodar against nine different high school-age teams in the Russian Republic.
This is the first Pangaea exchange team to go to the Soviet Union, and it will be the guests of the Soviet Ministry of Education and the Republican Children Sport Schools.
Lastwinter, program coordinator Barbara Salkin organized a trip by the Soviet girls and boys All-Star basketball teams. They toured the Baltimore-Washington area and played against local teams while being entertained by members of Spalding's boys and St. Mary's girls basketball squads.
"We'll be staying in hotels part of the time and with families in Klin and Krasnodar," said Salkin. "We won't know what the conditions are over there until we arrive, but certainly the family homes may not be as spacious.
"I've told the girls that there certainly won't be a corner drug store for mouthwash and hair spray, so we provided a list of things they might need and that they're accustomed to using."
North County track coach Ed Harte is sure McCray, the Anne Arundel County Sun's Female Track Athlete of the Year and the first athlete to be inducted into the Knights' Hall of Fame, will remain as composed as when she qualified for the state meet in four events.
"She's taking it all in stride. She's really calm and mature for her age," said Harte. "Until she won the indoor 500 hurdles title, no one knew who she was -- she's just come out of nowhere. It's amazing what she's done in a year, but she knows when to turn it up a notch when she needs to, and that's what counts in this sport."
McCray just completed her junior year at North County with county titles in long jump, 300 hurdles and 400 --. Her winning long jump leap of 17 feet, 10 inches broke the old county record by 9 1/2 inches, and her finish in the hurdles (44.3 seconds) was
one-tenth of a second off the county record mark.
McCray was a regional champion in those three events as well as county and regional runner-up in the high jump. She captured the Class 4A state title in the 300 hurdles.
In the Soviet Union, McCray will run in the 400 hurdles, mile relay, long jumpand either the 400 or 800 relay. She expects her biggest personal challenge will come in the 400 hurdles -- 100 meters longer than she's used to.
"One hundred meters is a big difference," said McCray. "The 300 is more on the sprint side. In the 400 I'll have to pace myself a lot more. I've run the 400 in practice, and it was very hard. I'll have to just keep telling myself to go out like I do for the 400 --and keep pushing at the end."
With the last of three practices slated for tomorrow at Montgomery County's Walter Johnson High, McCray has been training with her regular-season rivals from Prince George'sCounty's Eleanor Roosevelt, including runners Ebony Robinson and Beverly Chin.
Robinson was a champion in the 100 and 200 --es and anchored Roosevelt's championship mile relay team. Chin was a runner-up in the 200 and the 400, finishing ahead of McCray, who was fourth in the 400.
"At first, (the practice competition) was a little bit intimidating," said McCray, who expects a tougher challenge in the Soviet Union. "But I feel I belong (among the state's best), and it just makes we want to push myself, knowing I'm running with the best."