Oakland Mills' Ferguson sprints toward success

April 11, 1993|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

Oakland Mills track and field coach Sam Singleton is #i optimistic about a No. 1 state finish for the Scorpions boys this spring.

Part of Singleton's confidence stems from the performance of Damon Ferguson, a junior and one of Howard County's premier sprinters.

Ferguson will be a scoring weapon for Oakland Mills throughout the season. Particularly in the state meet at Western Maryland College on May 27-28, high placements by him in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints could veer the Class 2A championship toward the Scorpions. Singleton predicted that Ferguson will finish among the top three in each race.

"He's the leader. Without Damon, we're just average at best," said Singleton, who sees Central, Forestville, Surrattsville and Hammond as the teams to beat. "We need valuable points in the 100, 200 and 400. Without him, we're down the drain."

But with him, the Scorpions are tough, as shown by their RTC first-place indoor finishes in counties, regions and states. Ferguson ran the 55 and 300, and anchored the 800 and 1,600 relay teams.

With the outdoor campaign just under way, Ferguson continues to demonstrate that he's one of the county's best. In a tri-meet with Hammond and Centennial on April 1, he placed first in the 100 (10.9 seconds), 200 (23.6) and 400 (50.6) and anchored a winning 4x100 relay squad with a final-leg time of 10.7. The Scorpions topped Hammond, 77-68, and Centennial, 78-69.

Next, while Oakland Mills surprised area power Mervo in the Gilman Relays, 70-62, Ferguson anchored winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. He also anchored a 4x200 relay quad that took second.

Singleton says that, compared to the 100 or 200 sprints, Ferguson is best in the 400, where "if you don't have the guts, you won't get the glory," the coach said. Once the sprinter raises his knees and lengthens strides with more consistency, he'll decrease times in the shorter runs, Singleton said.

"Being a sprinter, you need to get your knees up and lift your forelegs," Singleton said. "If he does that, he'll take off three-tenths of a second [in the 100] by the end of the year.

"In the 400, you're going out and running 90 percent for 300 meters and trying to hold on. It's a mental thing. Damon's strength, stamina and guts are what separates him from other runners."

Despite being a better 400 runner, Ferguson prefers the 100 simply because it's shorter.

"If you're a 100 or 200 sprinter and you've never run the 400 and you go out and run the 400, you're going to die that last part of the race," he said.

Ferguson and Wilde Lake's Craig Butler are the county's top sprinters. Last season, Butler finished ahead of Ferguson in the 100 and 200. They'll clash in a meet May 4 and in the county championship at Oakland Mills on May 12-13.

"I don't think these guys are far and away better than other runners, but they are the two best at this point," said Wilde Lake coach Charles Shoemaker. "Damon might give him a run in the 200, but in the 100 and 400, Craig will be pretty tough to beat."

Ferguson is relatively new to high school track, but he has improved through physical and mental strength and dedication. After his debut in the 1992 outdoor season, he competed on the Phoenix Track Club over the summer, improving times to 10.9 (from 11.3) in the 100 and 50.0 (from 52) in the 400. Ferguson leg-presses "between 400 and 500 pounds," he said.

Middle-distance runner Josh Tripp, a senior and one of three Scorpions' captains with Ferguson and pole vaulter Joss Paddock, has noticed his teammate's new maturity.

"Last year, he was more interested in having fun," Tripp said. "He'd do the workouts, but he didn't take it as seriously as he does now. He's always working hard in practice."

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