The year 1991 in county sports had its share of both celebration andsadness.
Three coaches were lauded for achieving milestone victories, but one of the area's most popular and longest-tenured coaches lost his fight against cancer.
Numerous high school programs garnered state championships, but acouple of sports programs at Anne Arundel Community College were given one-year sanctions.
And while Annapolis graduate Craig Wilson again donned a major-league baseball uniform, taking on a utility rolewith the St. Louis Cardinals, a former Arundel pitcher made his first appearance in "The Show."
The following is a look back at the top 10 sports stories of the year. The review was compiled by staff writers Roch Eric Kubatko, Lem Satterfield, Steven Kivinski and John Harris III.
The county lost another coaching legend with the Feb. 2 death of Dick Hart, who succumbed to brain cancer at age 53 aftera courageous 1 1/2-year battle.
Hart coached the Andover boys basketball team throughout its 28-year existence, until the school's merger with Brooklyn Park to form North County. Hart was chosen by Principal William Wentworth as the Knights' new coach, but was too sick tofill the position. He would have been the first county coach to start two basketball programs.
After being struck on the head by a basketball during a November 1989 pick-up game, Hart began experiencing dizziness and slurred speech. Tests detected a brain tumor, and on Dec. 14, 1990, he was hospitalized for surgery.
North County (formerly the Andover building) renamed its gymnasium "Hart Hall" as a permanent reminder of Hart's contributions to county high school sports. In addition, former county coordinator of physical education and athletics Paul Rusko started the Dick Hart Award, given annually to a maleand female high school player deemed to exemplify what the late Andover coach represented. The award is sponsored by the school board.
"He was a total gentleman," Rusko said of Hart, who won 330 games and made five trips to the state playoffs.
"The teams Dick coached were truly a reflection of him: hard work, fundamentals and by the rules," said North County boys soccer coach Steve Malone.
"In this business, you tolerate a lot of coaches and you respect some. Dick was one everybody respected," said Southern boys basketball coach Tom Albright. "It seems that those who leave an impact are those who were more concerned about others than themselves, and they don't realize howmuch of a contribution they are making."
The school also established a scholarship fund in Hart's name.
It was a record-setting year for Coach Mike Hampe's 15-1 Old Mill wrestling team, which tied Broadneck and Annapolis for the 4A League dual-meet title.
UnderHampe, who ended the 1990-1991 season with a 160-22-3 career record in 16 years, the Patriots captured their ninth dual-meet crown and their seventh county and regional tournament titles.
Most importantly, however, the Patriots became only the second school -- and the first on the 4A/3A level -- to capture a third straight state title. ThePatriots (131.5 points), who crushed second-place North Carroll (99.5), broke an 11-year-old state record for points, initially set by Bowie (113).
Other than the Patriots, who were runners-up to Broadneck in 1988, only Aberdeen and Beall -- both on the Class 2A/1A level -- had ever accomplished the feat. In 1990, Aberdeen became the firstteam to win three straight titles outright. Beall shared its first title in 1982.
In addition, Old Mill's two state champions, Brent (135) and Brian (160) Layman, became only the third sibling combination to win crowns in the same year.
Old Mill's Steve Lundstrom (103)was a runner-up; heavyweight Don Marco, Ernie Longazel (171) and John Bliss (140) were third; and Sun Park (189) was fourth.
In capturing the Region IV title a week earlier, the Patriots tied the meet record for state-qualifying wrestlers with 10. The Layman brothers and Longazel were champions; Lundstrom, Marco, Park, Bliss and John Earle(152) were runners-up; Vytas Dulys (112) was third; and Bob Sugden (119) was fourth.
Old Mill also set a county meet record for total points with 203.5, surpassing the mark it set in 1987 by three points.
Again, the Patriots placed 10 wrestlers in the top four of theirweight classes, including a team-record seven finalists. Lundstrom, Sugden, the Laymans and Marco were champions; Park and Bliss were runners-up; Longazel, Dulys and Rick Oleszczuk (125) were third; and Todd Hultgren (145) was fourth.
For the Northeast baseball team,1991 was a season unparalleled by any in state history.
The Eagles went a state-record 24-0 and captured Coach Harry Lentz's third state title with a 15-3 rout of Howard County's Hammond. In the process,Northeast either tied or broke 34 school records and finished as thenation's top-ranked team in a 30-team poll by Collegiate Baseball magazine.