Scorpions, Bears aim to stay at top

March 25, 1994|By Chuck Acquisto | Chuck Acquisto,Special to The Sun

As Howard County's outdoor track and field season officially begins tomorrow with the Steve Duckworth Relays at Glenelg High, the majority of boys and girls coaches agree on two important subjects.

First, the winter indoor season failed to prepare the athletes as well as past track and field competitions have because of the numerous weather-related school closings as well as lingering snow and icy conditions on outdoor tracks and school parking lots that often limited team workouts to school hallways.

"We just couldn't get in the quality, sharpening workouts before regionals and states," said Centennial boys coach Al Dodds.

Second, the county coaches are nearly unanimous in believing county indoor champions Hammond (girls) and Oakland Mills (boys) will be hard-pressed to beat outdoors considering the two teams went on to capture state Class 1A-2A indoor titles and have only gotten stronger with additional athletes this spring.

Oakland Mills' boys should receive challenges from indoor runner-up Centennial, much-improved Howard and field-strong Atholton while Glenelg, Mount Hebron and Wilde Lake build for the future.

Hammond's girls will need to watch out for Glenelg with its strong long-distance contingent, field-strong Howard and Oakland Mills.

Atholton Raiders

Raiders boys coach Pat Saunderson, with a turnout of 74 at tryouts, is confident points will come in bunches for Atholton in the field events. Led by senior indoor and outdoor state champion Omar El Sawi (14-1), Atholton's pole vault trio that includes junior Ed LeBard and senior Josh Potocko is capable of a clean sweep. Junior Adrian Valdez (shot put, discus) finished second at the county indoor championships in the shot put, while senior high jumper Adam Dorosz followed Centennial's top trio with a leap of 5-8.

Atholton's distance events are led by senior Mike Strickland, who was hampered by a racquetball injury at the end of the indoor season. "But Mike is fully recovered. I expect him to be among the top four or five finishers in the county," said Saunderson.

Sophomore Zack Tropf, with potential to run a 4:30 mile, and junior Brandon Hartz are the Raiders' best hopes behind Strickland. In the sprints, Atholton is deep with senior Trevor Edwards (300 meters), sophomore Max Clifford, freshman Keith Jefferson (52 seconds in 400), senior Carlando Love, and sophomore Rick Trott. Senior Ed Chang is Saunderson's "Mr. Utility," capable of competing in sprints, distance and field events.

"We're hoping to be right with Centennial for second place in the county," Saunderson said.

Gray Webster only had 18 girls try out, but the coach of seven county championship teams in 20 years has enough individual talent on his team to keep the Raiders in the middle of the pack.

Sophomore All-County cross country runner Dana Strickland (1,600, 3,200) returns to the track after a season of varsity basketball. Strickland will lead a distance crew that includes senior standout Gail Hodges, sophomore Jessica Henry and freshman Chelsea Hartz.

Sophomore Janine Dauberman (300 hurdles, 200, 400) is Atholton's best sprinter and middle-distance runner, while Ammera El Sawi (3,200) provides the Raiders' field squad with potential to place in the high jump and triple jump.

Centennial Eagles

If there is a favorite to overtake Oakland Mills's boys for the county title, it is Coach Al Dodds' Eagles team. Led by senior miler Kevin Hill (1,600, 3,200) and his pack of long-distance teammates that includes seniors Bobby Van Allen (1,600, 3,200) and Steve Olenick (3,200), Centennial has the potential to sweep in the mile and 2-mile.

"I like our prospects for winning because we had a record turnout of 69 boys," said Dodds. "All of the sudden my biggest concern became having enough uniforms for everybody."

Dodds expects strong meets from senior C.P. Krishnamurthy (200, 400), Vince Graff (100) and Austrian exchange student Thomas Gluck (300). Senior high jumpers James Koehler (6-8), last year's Class 3A regional winner, and Matt Kilpatrick (6-6) lead the Eagles field events. Senior Bill Parham may score in the shot put, while Dodds is keeping his eye on senior Eric Frank's raw ability to make a mark in the discus event. Senior Alan Alejandro, a state-qualifier in the triple jump a year ago, is capable of clearing 11-6 in the pole vault.

Eagles girls coach Beth Brown has the numbers, 38 athletes, but isn't sure if the talent is there to move up from the middle of the pack.

Centennial is strong in the middle distance with seniors Ali Hoover (400, 800), Jen McManus, Kristin Reynolds and McCala Duffy. Sophomore Stacy Cabanilla will add depth in the 400 and 800.

Junior newcomer Kare Fisher has been Brown's biggest surprise and will compete in the hurdles and sprints with sophomore Jamila Powell. While Brown has not decided on her 2-mile runners, Hoover, Duffy and Meredith Brisco will run the one-mile.

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