Wright, Fallston ones to catch BOYS CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW

September 25, 1994|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

Grouping, always a key factor in the team part of cross country, will be especially important for the Harford County boys teams this fall, because there is not a superstar, no guaranteed No. 1.

Instead, there are a lot of good runners and the team emphasis will be on getting them well-bunched at the finish lines.

Perennial champion C. Milton Wright found this out at the Westminster Invitational last Wednesday when Dave Warnick and Eric Benjamin of Wright placed ahead of the top Fallston runner, but the Cougars, with five runners within a minute, finished fourth and Wright, seventh.

A year ago, Wright placed five runners in the first six finishers at the county meet, but only two of those return for coach Bob Johnson -- Warnick, a junior, and Benjamin, a sophomore. There is plenty of experience on the 22-man squad, however, including senior Ryan Lesh, who won the county "B" race last year.

One of Wright's missing is Chris Parkinson, who is at Fallston for his senior year as the result of a family move. He was 15th at Westminster and, in the opinion of coach Don Mickey, "gives us that front-runner, one who can get us those low points. I thought we'd be good, because our 2-3-4 runners are within 10 seconds of each other, and now there is someone to go with them."

Veterans Mike Martinek, Todd Weller and Jason Sayers and newcomer Nick Sayers followed Parkinson.

Although there are some good individuals, it is unlikely any other county team will be able to handle the top two powers.

Edgewood might be the surprise team after an also-ran season last year. Sophomore Jason Bullock and senior Willie Parrish top a group of four who ran last year for coach John Low, and this time there are five more runners, all juniors and seniors but

freshman Chris Jordan.

Bel Air coach Alan Dean, with three juniors and two freshmen, sees his team as being a year away. Freshman Brad Stone won the first race he ran and finished in the top 25 at the Howard meet.

John Carroll is another team that could run itself into a solid position, with fourth-year leader Brian Basener and strong third-year member Lee Donelson. Among the newcomers are junior Liam Smith; freshman Sean Dannsberger, who has provided a surprise by running No. 4, and German exchange student Thomas Diekmann, whose cross country experience has been in skiing rather than running.

Another team expected to benefit from a transfer is Aberdeen, where first-year head coach Eric Kemp has Adam Vesely, a junior who ran in California last year. Senior Julian Olivares returns, but most of the others on the 10-runner team are freshmen.

Returnees Jay Lawhorne, a senior, and junior Steve Morgan are the leaders for new Joppatowne coach Greg Komondor, while senior Stuart Simms and freshman David Leaf have shown promise among the newcomers.

At Harford Tech, first-year coach Bob Ober has six runners, including five holdovers, led by junior Mike Knefel and senior Jason Powers.

New Havre de Grace coach Mike Knoll returns senior Mike Hitchings and sophomore Rodney Bolen and hopes to field a full team by the county meet.

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