Kyler steps up, helps Poly track keep up with Mervo Sprinter-jumper leads Engineers

April 11, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Knowing Mervo returned a powerful squad, Poly boys track coach Bill Hickey was careful about his preseason assessment of the Engineers' chances of winning a fifth Maryland Scholastic Association title.

"Other than [sprinter-jumper] Greg Kyler, we have little coming back," he said.

The prospect of building the hopes for a fourth crown around Kyler -- a raw talent who had not competed in a meet since his freshman year on junior varsity -- seemed shaky at best.

But in a tri-meet loss to Mervo at Mount St. Joseph, Kyler proved he just might have enough championship mettle to keep the Engineers on top.

On a soggy, blustery, chilly afternoon, the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder won three events -- upsetting a reigning champion along the way -- to establish himself as a potential multi-event contender for a 4A state title.

That effort, which helped the Engineers (57.5 points) to finish respectably behind Mervo (73.5) and ahead of Mount St. Joseph (38), was followed by another brilliant performance that paced Poly to a fourth-place finish at Gilman relays.

There, his team-best leap of 43 feet led the Engineers to the triple-jump crown with an aggregate distance of 117-2.5. Kyler also ran the second 200-meter leg of Poly's title-winning sprint medley squad, anchored the third-place 800-meter team and was the second runner on the third-place 1,600-meter relay.

Kyler's tri-meet triumph, however, was more spectacular.

"I had little reason to expect anything like this from a first-year varsity runner," said Hickey of Kyler's victories at Mount St. Joseph. "We had arrived to the meet late and Greg had about 15 minutes to warm up for the [triple jump], when you should normally have about 45 minutes."

First, Kyler won the triple jump with a leap of 45-6, eclipsing last year's MSA title-winning effort (45-3 1/2 ) by Poly graduate Tramont Evans, last year's Baltimore Sun Performer of the Year.

And he did it despite the unfavorable conditions of a long-jump pit that had endured several days of rain.

"That was a momentum-builder for me," said Kyler, who next faced Mervo's All-Metro and 100-meter MSA champ Ben Braswell. "He [Braswell] was doing the long jump while I was doing the triple. He was talking a lot, saying he's gonna get me. To be honest, I was nervous."

But the slender junior displayed the poise of a veteran in their race, crossing the line in 10.6 seconds -- a full second before Braswell.

"Mentally, I went back to my roots," said Kyler, 17, who credits assistant coach Eric Howard with improving his form. "I've been working on my starts out of the blocks, my knee lifts and getting my hips stronger. But I was shocked to beat him, running that kind of time on that kind of day."

So was Hickey, who entered Kyler in the 100 "only as an afterthought" to gain extra points.

"Braswell's an excellent runner who trains year-round, so I didn't think he'd [Kyler] win that event," said Hickey. "What's amazing is

that's [100] not even his best event -- he's a better 200- or 400-meter runner."

Kyler wasn't done yet, winning the 300 hurdles in 40 seconds -- just shy of Evans' MSA title-winning personal best (38.2) of last spring.

RF "By then, I was relaxed and rolling," said Kyler, who had a reputa

tion for making the big play as running back on last fall's MSA A Conference runner-up Engineers football team.

"Winning and beating Braswell isn't going to change anything I do," said Kyler. "I'll continue training like I'm the underdog and just go after everybody."

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