Cross country runners stay devoted

September 17, 1992|By John Harris III and Steve Kivinski | John Harris III and Steve Kivinski,Staff Writers

In county cross country circles, there's always talk of attrition as athletes become more interested in "glamour" sports such as football and soccer.

One school that hasn't run into such a problem is Severna Park.

The Falcons, county and regional champs last season in both the boys and girls divisions, boast 56 runners for the 1992 campaign -- enough to make Ed Purpura's squad a favorite to claim both categories once more, including its 10th consecutive county girls title.

"We've been hit pretty hard by graduation. We had five pretty good runners leave, but with all of the girls we have on this team, we're bound to find some talent," said Purpura.

Severna Park will be hard-pressed to find a talent as big as the departed Fran Mackney, the top harrier in the region and the county and the third-place finisher in the 1991 state meet.

Moving up to the top slot this fall is sophomore Brianna Weidman. As a freshman, Weidman placed sixth and seventh in the county and region meets, respectively. She will be paced by seniors Sarah Tate and Kate Steiner.

The boys contingent will be led by Jeremy Kokalis, an eighth-place finisher in the county meet last season. Senior Jeff Atkinson, junior Brendan Naydan and sophomore Jack Langley provide depth for the defending champs.

Old Mill coach Gary Bater no longer has the services of Scot Boetig, last year's Anne Arundel County Sun Runner of the Year, but Brad Boetig is back and adequately filling his brother's running spikes.

Brad Boetig, along with Jason Reckner, David Cavanaugh, Ron Pennington and newcomer Chris Lewin, improve a Patriot team that finished a respectable sixth place at last year's state meet.

Reckner and Brad Boetig helped Old Mill defeat defending state champion Westminster earlier this week and Bater attributes the upset to determination and hard work over the summer.

"Based on what I've seen to date at practice and at our first twmeets, I see a lot of determined effort and cohesiveness on our team that I haven't seen in my 12 years at Old Mill," said Bater. "They seem to be focused on training, and they do the training and I think it has shown in the results in the meets so far."

Old Mill's top female harriers include senior Marisa Sanders and sophomore Jessica Davis. Sanders finished third in the county and sixth in the region last year and Davis started this season by setting a course record (21 minutes, 26 seconds) in Old Mill's 27-30 win over Westminster.

"I think my girls should be quite competitive," said Bater. "The girls are training with the same consistency as the boys and the same dedication. My attitude is we read the facts and stats, and when we accomplish the mission, then we celebrate. I think we'll be as competitive as Severna Park, but I won't say we'll beat the pants off them. That's not my nature."

John Dockstader isn't clearing any space on the trophy shelf at Meade, but the 11-year coach does expect both his boys and girls teams to be competitive.

The Mustangs boys squad, which finished second in the county and region behind Severna Park, is led by senior Mike Walker and sophomore Kevin Raymond. Newcomers Micah Jefferson, Eric Campion and Alfred Jump should round out Meade's scoring five, but Dockstader admits that's as far as it goes.

"If we can pull things together we should be in the running for the top three or four spots," said Dockstader, who has one of the county's top females in senior Amy Bell. "I don't think I have enough depth for the top spot. That could change if someone steps in a hole."

After a banner 1990 that saw Broadneck capture the county boys title, the Bruins fell to a fourth-place showing in last (P season's county boys meet.

"This will be a transition year for us. Sixteen out of our 19 boys are underclassmen, and eight or nine out of our 13 girls are as well, so it'll take us a while, but I think we'll be there at the end," said Broadneck coach Gerald Kiple.

With Jean Rimar off and running as a member of the University of Illinois squad, Kiple will depend on sophomores Nicole Weisberger and Leanne Carnes to carry the load. Top boys include senior Dave Acosta and juniors Jere Hartman and Pete Ormsby.

Chesapeake seventh-year coach John McGuire is turning to junior Tom Warren to lead his male contingent.

Warren has made great strides since last season and will be flanked by teammates Shawn Stallings, Brian Miller, Ryan Stevens and Tom Wargo. Melissa Madero, Amy Volke, Hope Everheart and Terri Long are tabbed as senior leaders of an otherwise young Chesapeake girls team.

"I think we can compete with Severna Park, Old Mill, Arundel and Broadneck," said McGuire. "If they don't hurt themselves and fall down on their faces, we should be competitive."

Karen Nicolini's presence spawned a growth spurt for the Annapolis girls team. Including the sophomore track phenom, the Panthers now have 11 girls, one more than their male counterparts.

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