Annapolis Gymnast's Scholarship Is A 'Dream Come True'

SIDELINES

March 09, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

It's a mission fulfilled for Annapolis senior Megan Nicolini. The 17-year old accepted a full scholarship for gymnastics this week to theUniversity of Nebraska.

Nicolini never participated in a varsity sport at Annapolis. She was simply too advanced for high school gymnastics, and her participation in the Docksiders program led to the scholarship. Films of her routines were sent all over the country, and the young woman ended up with a host of offers to compete at the collegiate level.

"Yes, it's a dream come true," said Megan yesterday from her Rolling Knolls home.

"It was my goal when I started in gymnastics to one day get a college scholarship. I've worked hard and it has paid off. I owe a lot to my coaches, Mark Weber and Linda Johnson, for my development."

Megan began on the bars and beams at age 11 and progressed to level 9, and when a youngster reaches that level or above they are not allowed to compete on the high school team.

She had narrowed down her college choices to Nebraska, Iowa State and Towson State universities, but a weekend visit to Cornhusker country won her over.

"I flew out to Nebraska on a Saturday and returned home the following Monday night, had a great time," said Megan. "I just fell in love with the school and campus and met the girls on the gymnastics team.

"We went out to dinner and all and they showed me a film and photos on the football team. When the football team plays at home, Lincoln is filled with people dressed in red and white and our stadium, when it is full, becomes the third-largest town in Nebraska."

The gymnastics team has a winning tradition under Coach Rick Walton, who three years ago led the Huskers to a fourth-place finish in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.

"The team is rebuilding right now and yes, I will get a chance to compete on the varsity as a freshman," said Megan, adding that competing as a freshman wasnot a top priority.

"I just fell in love with the school and knewthat's where I wanted to go."

Megan is not sure what her college major will be, but she is certain that she wants to be a physical therapist.

She is the daughter of Pete and Sandy Nicolini, and her 14-year old sister, Kristen, just completed a spectacular freshman season on the Annapolis High indoor track team. Little brother Todd is a 13-year-old middle school student who plays baseball, basketball and soccer.

Kristen has already said she hopes to follow in her big sister's footsteps and land a college scholarship too.

"Wouldn't that be great," said a smiling Pete, who is the principal at Crofton Meadows Elementary school.

*

In other county sports news, how about the indoor season that Old Mill teams are having?

No Anne Arundel County High School athletic program has accomplished in one sports season what 17-year-old Old Mill has done this winter -- indoors.

In fact, no county school has ever in any sports season (fall, winterand spring) swept at least region titles, as the Pats have done. It's been a grand slam season.

All four Old Mill indoor teams -- wrestling, indoor track, boys and girls' basketball -- have won at least Class 4A Region IV titles, with the mat and track teams adding state championships.

The indoor track teams, boys and girls, copped region titles and the boys went on to take a state crown.

Coach Mike Hampe's wrestling squad just took an unprecedented fourth consecutive state Class 4A/3A championship at Western Maryland College in Westminster Saturday night. The top-ranked Patriots overcame a 14.5-point deficit to nose out McDonough of Charles County, 116 to 99.5.

The boys and girls basketball teams get a chance to win state titles this week, with the boys in the state final four at Cole Field House, University of Maryland and the girls at Catonsville Community College for their final four.

Saturday night at No. 2 seed Meade, the fifth-seeded Old Mill boys took a gut-wrenching 81-73 decision in double overtime to win their first 4A Region IV title. It was the fourth time the Patriots defeated the Mustangs this season, leaving no doubt as to who had the better team.

For the boys team, this is the first-evertrip to the final four, and they have drawn the fourth seed. The Pats (16-9) of Coach Paul Bunting will play top-seeded Paint Branch (22-2) of Montgomery County 9 p.m. Thursday at Cole Field House.

This is the first year in Class 4A for Paint Branch.

The girls (23-1) rolled to their Region IV title Friday night at home by destroying Broadneck, 62-32. They will be back at Catonsville to defend their statechampionship this week probably as the top seed.

So if you see Patriots athletic director Jim Dillon beaming from ear to ear this week, give him a high five, low-five, a handshake and pat on the back. Hedeserves it.

"Well, we're all very proud," said Dillon, who always seems to have a smile on his face.

"This has been a super week and winter, but this last week has been unbelievable. We were talking about it yesterday, and I don't think any school has ever done this."

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