Western's Laing takes steps toward city track records

April 14, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

At times during last year's District 9 city track championships, it seemed as though Western sprinter Tamara Laing glided past her opponents with minimal effort.

Unknown to many of her rivals, however, Laing was using a style that made her work harder than she had to. The problem was an intricacy noticeable only to the trained eye, like that of Western coach Jerry Molyneaux.

"We've had several talks about her technique," said Molyneaux. "She runs with her legs slightly wiggling from side to side when they should go straight up and down."

Laing, a junior this year, still won last year's 200-meter -- in 26.6 seconds and the 400 in 59.6. She also ran the first and second legs of two of the Doves' winning relays -- the 400 (51.2) and 1,600 (4:15.4).

For helping the Doves win 12 of 17 events at the District 9, Laing was chosen the Most Valuable Performer by her team and in her league.

Laing's success continued the next week during her inaugural venture into the state association's 4A regionals, where she took the 200 title (25.8) and the 400 (59.8) and helped the regional runner-up 400 (50.2) and 1,600 (4:11.4) relay teams to improve their times.

Laing's efforts last season earned her honors as the city's Female Track Performer of the Year by The Baltimore Sun.

A relative unknown to coaches statewide last season, the 17-year-old hopes to make a name for herself this year.

"Coming back this season, I think there's some pressure. I try to put that behind me, but sometimes I look forward to it," said Laing.

"Coach expects some motivational standards to be set for the newer runners by those of us who have been there. That's what my teammates and I are trying to do."

But the best way Laing can do that, Molyneaux said, is to improve her times and her technique from last year.

Though Laing covered plenty of ground over two months of summer training with Ed Waters' Track Club, Molyneaux -- last year's Baltimore Sun Coach of the Year for District 9 -- said she's still miles away from reaching her potential.

"Last year was not a great year because her times at the end of the season were not good enough. In fact, they worsened at the states," said Molyneaux.

"If she can get her form down and break some of the habits she's fallen into, she can run a 56 in the 400 and a 25 in the 200. To do that, she's got to become more determined and focused in practice."

Laing said she's ready to shift into high gear to accomplish her goals -- breaking the city records in the 100 (11.7), 200 (23.9) and 400 (56.4).

Molyneaux said Laing (5-foot-7, 120 pounds) can go as far as her dedication takes her.

But she'll have to scrap a style of running that her coach feels could affect her at critical moments, like in the more competitive races.

Entering this weekend's Ed Hurt Invitational at Western, Laing's best times this season in the 100 (13.1) and the 200 (26.1) are below Molyneaux's standards.

Laing has yet to compete in the 400, her marquee event last year.

"There are so many things I need to work on, like getting out of the blocks quicker and improving my attacks on the curves and in the last 100 meters of the 400," Laing said. "I feel there's been some improvement, but I'm not up to championship speed. I know I can run much faster times."

Molyneauxsaid Laing's versatility figures heavily into his long-term plans for Western.

"She's got the talent to run in six events, including the 100 and the 800," Molyneaux said. "If she's willing to put in the hard work, I expect her times to be much better by the time states come."

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