Club draws top-notch talent Area's best coaches, athletes crowd Ed Waters' program

June 18, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

A short list of some members of the Ed Waters' Track Club reads like a who's who of first-team All-Metro picks.

There are Anne Arundel County, regional and 4A state champ Jamal Dixon-Hawkins of Old Mill and Perry Hall's 100-meter Baltimore County champ, Jim Banach, a regional runner-up who placed third in the 4A championships.

Then there's Woodlawn's 300 hurdles state champ Sheraie Darby and two athletes from Mervo -- Anthony Stuckey, who anchored the Mustangs' state champion 400, 800 and 1,600 relays, and long jump state runner-up Ben Braswell.

Also, Sheldon Downing (Mervo), a Maryland Scholastic Association champion high jumper, and Tamiko Mack (North County), among the area's best female 400 runners, each were honorable-mention All-Metro picks.

It's a team of kids from ages 6 to 18 that can run with the nation's best.

Add top-notch coaches like Mervo's Freddie Hendricks -- who coached the 4A state runner-up Mustangs to MSA and regional titles.

"It's mostly city runners, but Banach, Dixon-Hawkins -- we've always been open to all the kids in the area," said Hendricks, The Baltimore Sun's 1993 Boys Track Coach of the Year and one of the program's many assistants to head coach Jerry Molyneaux, coach of Western's girls.

Gene Hoffman (Curley), Jesse Hicks and Bill Hice (both of Walbrook), and Ron Taylor and Ron Neal (both of Mervo), Tony Braxton (Carver) and Larry McCoy (Coppin State), are among the club's other coaches. Its director is Ralph Durant of the city's Bureau of Recreation and Parks.

"The coaches have learned from each other," said Hoffman, in his sixth year with the program. "The motivation, pride and discipline have put Baltimore-area track on a higher level. What's always struck me is how hot it is and how much the kids really want to be here."

Neal said he "expects national titles from three of the 15 to 16 relay teams," with Banach, a junior-to-be, being a member of two relays.

"Everything's just rolling and we're looking great. It's the best experience," said Banach. "I've never run for a track club before this, and I just love running with these guys."

Banach anchors his age group's 400 relay of Jevon Norris (Mount St. Joseph), Royston Little (Mervo) and Derrick Smith (West Baltimore Middle School). He runs the second leg of the 1,600 relay with Lloyd Vennie (Poly), James Carter (Mervo) and Smith.

Smith, who has clocked a 49.8-second 400 --, Carter and Garfield Thompson (West Baltimore Middle) were part of last year's nationally ranked 13-14 1,600 relay. Sophomore-to-be Mike Curtis (Mervo), a 3,200 regional champ, leads the 3,200 relay team of Thompson, Carter and Smith.

"It's a very competitive atmosphere, yet there's a lot of camaraderie," said Hendricks. "It's that way even when the kids go back to their own schools."

During last weekend's qualifying meet at Walkersville High, 20 of the club's athletes earned spots in next month's AAU regionals in Newport News, Va.

Tomorrow, the track club will enter a two-day competition at Washington's Spingarn High, which completes the second qualifying round for the United States Track and Field regionals.

The athletes' long-range goals are to reach the USTF nationals in Baton Rouge, La., July 23-25, and the AAU nationals in Knoxville, Tenn., Aug. 1-7.

"The city kids get to travel and see other environments outside of the inner city," Neal said. "Last year we went to Minnesota, and we've been to Canada. We want them to realize this sport can take them places."

One of those places is college.

The program's alumni include Joppatowne's Thori Staples, an All-Metro selection in soccer and track and now a sophomore at the University of North Carolina.

A former long jumper, sprinter and middle-distance runner, Staples later became a national champ in the heptathlon. She's among the nation's best female soccer players.

Another graduate, Poly's Tramont Evans, The Baltimore Sun's 1992 Track Performer of the Year, is a sophomore running at Lafayette University.

National champion race-walker and Howard High graduate Al Hepner, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, also competed for Waters. And Mervo graduate Ronald Keene, now a sophomore at Morgan State, was an MSA champ in the 100 and 200.

"You can be a world-class runner, but the colleges won't take you unless you can make the grades," said Neal.

"We try to stress that above all because we know that we have some kids with great potential."

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