Mervo sprints past the field at Gilman Relays

April 10, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

The scene from the 4x100 trials at last year's Gilman Relays remains plastered on the mind of Mervo track coach Freddie Hendricks.

With blustery winds making the already skin-numbing conditions nearly unbearable, Hendricks entered his second team in the race, hoping to give his top athletes a needed rest while still qualifying for the finals.

Instead, they got disqualified for dropping the baton, and the Mustangs lost to Oakland Mills by eight points.

Yesterday, a year to the day, Hendricks and the Mustangs wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

Not only did the team use its top four runners in the event, but they set a meet record in the process, helping to propel Mervo to a 15-point victory at the 19th Gilman Invitational Relays.

"We wanted to win this race," said Hendricks, whose 4x100 team of Brian Murphy, Royston Lyttle, Anthony Stuckey and Ben Braswell won in a meet record 42.7 seconds, beating the old mark by six-tenths of a second. "I just would have loved to have had Oakland Mills here."

Mervo's main competition came from Perry Hall, which kept things close with solid performances in the distance and field events. Mervo won the 13-team meet with 86 points, followed by Perry Hall (71), Gilman (54), Parkville (31) and Howard (28).

For Gators coach Jerry Martin, taking second to the Mustangs was nothing to complain about.

"We had a good meet today," said Martin, "but to beat a team as talented as Mervo, we would have needed a perfect meet."

Mervo took first place in eight relays, including the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 4x800, shuttle hurdle, sprint medley, long jump and triple jump. Handling the bulk of the workload were Stuckey, Braswell, Murphy, Lyttle, James Carter and Antoine Nelson, at least two of whom ran in four of the winning races.

For them, the victory was especially sweet after last year's disappointment.

"[Last year] we just had one of those days where we weren't up to our ability," said Braswell, who was a key to helping Mervo finish second to Quince Orchard in last May's Class 4A state track and field championships. "This year, I feel we have a stronger team, and today we ran really strong."

For a team that -- along with the rest of the city -- doesn't have an indoor season, and has to travel to City just to run on a track, the next month will be critical in getting up to speed.

"We're trying to run ourselves into shape," said Hendricks, who pointed to the recent bad weather as another obstacle. "The sprinters can get themselves into shape pretty quickly, but the distance runners definitely suffer from no indoor season."

But with 11 of the 18 events in track and field considered to be sprint-oriented, the Mustangs should be right in contention for a state title along with Old Mill and Eleanor Roosevelt of Prince George's County.

For Mervo, though, winning a state title is still only a dream. Yesterday's meet was just another step along the long road. "We're just looking forward to District 9," said Braswell. "I feel that if we can get our minds focused, we can win a state title."

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