Dodds has girls and boys in the running now 4th-year Centennial coach produces a season of firsts 1992 ALL-HOWARD COUNTY CROSS COUNTRY TEAMS COACH OF THE YEAR

November 16, 1992|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Under fourth-year head coach Al Dodds, Centennial's cross country program accomplished some notable firsts this season.

The girls team won its first county title. The boys team won its first county title since 1980. And it was the first time since 1982 that one school won both county titles.

Those accomplishments alone were enough to earn Dodds recognition as The Baltimore Sun's Howard County cross country Coach of the Year.

But both Centennial teams also went on to win Class 3A regional championships. For the girls it was their second straight regional title. They also won a state title in 1990 under Dodds.

This was not only his best group of runners, but also his largest, with 36 boys and 23 girls on the team.

"It has been a joy to work with this group because it is dedicated and practices hard," Dodds said.

The boys went 7-0 in league competition and finished second in the Howard County, Arundel and Meade invitationals. The girls went 6-1 in league competition and won the Meade and Arundel invitationals, while finishing second in the Howard County Invitational.

"I knew after two meets that the boys team would be the favorite at the county championships, but the girls team was a surprise this year," Dodds said. "Starting out, I didn't know what we had."

Two freshmen girls, Kari Meyer and Heather Tanner, finished third and fourth, respectively, at the county meet, and second and third, respectively, at the regional meet.

Dodds, 44, said that his assistant coach, Lynn Broderick, has been instrumental in the girls' success this season.

He first got involved with cross country as an assistant coach to Pepe Sandoval for two years. He has coached track for 15 years at Centennial, his teams winning four boys county titles and four regional titles.

He ran track and played football at Springbrook High in the same class that produced cross country coaches Steve Carnahan of Oakland Mills and Earl Lauer of Atholton.

Dodds went on to play football and qualify twice for nationals in the decathlon at Towson State University.

The physical education teacher was Centennial's first varsity wrestling coach, a sport he credits Carnahan and Lauer with having taught him. He held that job four years and one of his teams won a state title.

Dodds has coached some outstanding cross country runners, including three-time state champ Pat Rodriguez (William & Mary), Don Augustin (UMBC), two-time state champ Amanda Cox (Columbia) and Dana Colligan (Maryland).

"The hardest thing about coaching cross country is trying not to overwork the kids or letting them overwork themselves," he said. "The good ones all want to overwork."

One of his most satisfying coaching moments came at the 1989 state meet. His runners finished first, second and fourth but the team couldn't quite beat Oakland Mills.

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