Westminster teams remain the ones to beat

March 25, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

South Carroll track coach Rob Pennington dared to mention the thoughts that are most likely on the minds of all the Westminster pursuers in Carroll County.

"With the coaching change in guard at Westminster [Jim Shank in as boys coach and Bill Hill out due to heart problems], hopefully their program will slack up enough to make them mortal," said Pennington.

But in the next breath, Pennington returns to reality and says: "Hopefully we can close the gap between us and Francis Scott Key for second place."

No boys track and field coach in Carroll County allows himself to dream too long about ending Westminster's run of 13 straight county titles.

Hill is gone after 15 years of coaching and winning 13 in a row, but there is just too much talent and too many numbers (54 boys out for the team) on Westminster's side.

Besides, Shank is no newcomer to coaching boys track at Westminster. He was the head coach from 1971-79 and has helped with the program the past several years.

Francis Scott Key is the defending state Class 1A track and field champion, but the Eagles realize they have a long way to go to catch up to Westminster, which finished sixth in the state Class 4A meet last spring.

Key coach Rich Salkin said: "Our position with Westminster is that if we beat them in the county meet, we'll do a lot of major celebrating and if we finish second to them we'll do a lot of major celebrating."

Things are looking up for the Liberty boys track and field team, with 35 boys out for the team compared to 20 last season.

Coach Dan Jones said a lot of enthusiasm surrounds his team but it lacks experience and might be a year or two away from seriously challenging Key for second.

At North Carroll, football coach Bill Rumbaugh has taken over the boys track and field program and is trying to build a contender around three seniors.

On the girls track and field scene, Francis Scott Key finds itself in a frustrating situation.

The Eagles took third place in the state Class 1A championship meet and return everybody from that team except Chrissy Naurot who was a member of the state champion 400- and 800-meter relay teams.

But Key doesn't have the depth to replace four-time defending ** champion Westminster for the county championship.

The 4A Owls had 58 girls come out for their team, and there is more than enough talent to fend off the Eagles who are coached by Tom Hill.

The South Carroll and Liberty girls have increased depth over last season but many of those numbers come in the form of unproven youngsters.

Only time will tell how good those two teams will be.

And for North Carroll, neither the numbers nor the talent level is that strong.

"We're just trying to establish the tradition and discipline it takes to be successful at track," said Panthers' girls coach Greg Knill.

Here's a further look at the county boys and girls track and field teams.

BOYS

Francis Scott Key -- Coach Salkin guided the Eagles to a state Class 1A championship in his first season as head coach.

He lost approximately 30 points from that squad when Scott Kreit graduated last spring. Kreit was a member of the Eagles' state-champion mile relay team, a sprinter and middle-distance runner.

Also gone are triple jumper David Bull, pole vaulter Ryan Dunn, discus thrower Kristian Hochberg and Christian White who was a member of the champion mile relay team.

But there appears to be enough talent returning to enable Key to make another run at the 1A title.

Seniors Ryan Robertson and Jason McCarley, who were members of the winning mile relay team, return as middle-distance runners. McCarley also is a hurdler.

Senior Josh Crone is back to defend his state pole vaulting championship (13-6), and senior middle-distance runners Ken Oldham and Ethan Steiner return along with senior thrower Jay Heineman.

The top juniors returning are distance runner Damon Battaglia and high jumper Steve Wright, who finished second in the state meet last season.

Heading the list of newcomers are sophomores Courtney Howard (jumper and hurdler), Courtney Woodyard (jumper and thrower) and Tony Cahoon (pole vaulter).

Freshmen Bobby Bollinger (thrower) and Casey Norris (middle distance) are considered potential standouts.

Liberty -- The Lions should do well in the distance runs with 1993 Carroll County Cross Country Runner of the Year Joe Ledda, a junior, on the squad. Top cross country runner Justin Combs, a junior, also should give Liberty some points.

Teddy Sanders (sprinter/hurdler) and Justin Stewart (middle distance) are the only seniors on the young squad.

Coach Jones said there is potential spread throughout the team.

The other top juniors are Vince Novak (middle distance), Aric Dietrich (middle distance) and Ben Walsh (pole vaulter/jumper).

The leading sophomores are Ken Fischer (400 and 800), Scott Taylor (pole vault), Jim Smutek (shot and discus), Jim Redding (shot and discus), Brian Field (sprinter), Nolan Johnson (distance) and Gary Barnhart (shot put /discus).

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