Intervals push Scorpions' relays

February 23, 1993|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

Oakland Mills indoor track and field coach Sam Singleton has no idea whether other coaches have something similar to his strategy of training relay runners.

But his results are hard to match.

Singleton requires runners on the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter relay teams to complete consecutive intervals in practice. For instance, an 800 relay runner may finish eight straight 200 intervals at 90 percent speed, a consistent way to magnify strength and endurance.

That formula is a major reason the Scorpions' six relay squads -- three boys, three girls -- are all among the Baltimore area's finest. Tomorrow, they will contend for spots at the state meet at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore.

"It increases motivation and gets them on what the pace should be," Singleton said. "It betters the anaerobic pace because you'll get more oxygen to the muscles, and consequently, the muscles will react and go faster.

"We try to blend speed with intestinal fortitude," he added. "If you don't have the guts, you won't get the glory."

The Scorpions have placed high in Howard County and Class 2A-1A, Region II competition.

All three boys teams finished first in either the county or regional championship meet.

The 1,600 team of Xavier Brisco, Phil Cassel, Kerry Ferdinand and Damon Ferguson fared the best, winning both events. The 1,600's fastest time of 3 minutes, 37.3 seconds at the National Guard Meet last month was its only non-first-place showing in eight outings this season.

The 800 and 3,200 teams flip-flopped major achievements. Ferguson anchors the 800 team, which earned first in the region and second in the county. Ferdinand, David Dudley and Brandy Walker are also integral on a unit that has a 1:36.2 fast time. Jay Herdson, Eric Larsen, Greg Curtis and anchor Phil Cassel comprise the 3,200 team that was first in the county and second in regionals at 8:41.8, its best.

If not for a runner from Surratsville in Prince George's County nipping Ferguson at the National Guard Meet, the 4 x 400 team would be undefeated.

"I just go out and do what I have to do," Ferguson, a junior, said. "If I'm behind, all I think about is getting in front. If I'm in front, ddTC think about staying ahead."

Among the girls teams, the 1,600 squad of Kristi Avery, Samantha Vanghel, Stacey Lillis and anchor Nina Tucker placed first in the county (4:29) and second in the region to Glenelg.

The 800 team (Nika Thompson, Stacey Lillis, Sophia Long and Tucker) finished second in the county championship to Centennial and third in the region.

Amanda Beckenstein, Rachel Nelson, Vanghel and Avery, the anchor, form the 3,200 team, second to Glenelg in the county meet and fourth in regionals.

Best times for the 800 and 3,200 contingents are 1:57 and 10:58.2, respectively.

Tucker, a junior and the girls captain, also runs the 800's final leg. She said that the 4 x 200 team practices by running six consecutive 200 or 10 straight 100 intervals. Tucker's 1,600 squad could easily be county and regional champion. Heading into first place on the final lap at regionals, however, she tripped, leaving the Scorpions (4:31) second to Glenelg (4:27.6).

"It's not that our whole [girls] team is good, because we don't have that much depth," Avery said. "We might have five or six people that have good talent."

The Scorpions boys should place higher at the state meet.

According to Singleton, the boys' three relay teams, pole vaulter Joss Paddock (best of 11 feet, 6 inches) and shot putter Wade McHargue (49-8) are their key to success. First-place finishes by each will account for 50 points, and "we should have 40 in a worst-case scenario," he said.

The boys' strongest competitors will be Central of Prince George's County and Surrattsville.

"We gear our practices to have the kids peak for the big meets like this one," said Singleton, who is predicting fifth or sixth place for the girls. "[The boys] can get close to 70 points total. "If we get that, we should win it."

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