Fallston's girls, Wright's boys have early edge

March 26, 1995|By Bill Blewett | Bill Blewett,Special to The Sun

The Fallston girls and C. Milton Wright boys are again the teams to beat in Harford County track and field.

Fallston returns with its girls team almost intact from last year's .. lopsided win in the county meet, its sixth in eight years.

The Wright boys graduated most of their top performers but retain plenty of strength to make a ninth straight boys title likely.

Much can change before the championships on May 11. But picking the favorites this spring is at least simpler than picking the championship site.

Where the county meet is conducted will be determined by a curious formula: If the average ground temperature exceeds 50 degrees in early April, the meet will be at Edgewood. Otherwise, it will be at Bel Air.

Edgewood's track is scheduled to have a $75,000 surface applied the week of April 3 -- but only if the ground is warm enough for proper curing. A similar surface will be poured at C. Milton Wright about March 27.

Given a cool spring, Edgewood and Wright could be without a track for the entire season.

Even without the new surfaces, there is a noticeable change in track and field: All 10 Harford schools have larger teams. Overall, the number of participants is up almost 19 percent over last year, to 657.

Aberdeen Eagles

"We have a real positive outlook," said Aberdeen boys coach Eric Kemp. "We have more depth and enthusiasm and a larger team than last year."

Heading the list of returnees on the 30-man squad is Terrance Washington, who won the county long jump and was second in the high jump. Other strong holdovers are Larry Brown (hurdles and jumps), Joe Ragan (400), and Nate Stewart (shot, discus). Newcomers Curvine Ridgely and Dondre Gilliam are expected to add strength in the sprints.

Aberdeen's girls team returns only two scorers from the '94 county meet, sprinter Amanda Laughton and distance runner Kim Helmers. But 12th-year coach Donna Lewis sees several top prospects among her 24 girls.

The Eagles look for points from Jessica Solar (distance), Ayana Burnett (sprints), Holly Andrews (shot, discus), and Lia Vance (hurdles). Freshman Heather McGrath has been impressive.

Bel Air Bobcats

With reigning county champs in four events, Bel Air will be a strong contender in the girls competition. Michelle Apland (1,600 and 3,200), Jenny Gaines (high jump), and Tiffany Higgins (shot put) won county titles. Higgins is a transfer from Edgewood.

"I think we'll have a well-rounded team," said girls coach Randall Cerveny. "We'll be strong in the field events."

Versatile Monica Grigora, a hurdler and jumper, should be a top point producer. Other veterans are Casey Hentz (sprints), Laura Whitsel (discus), and Tia Melvin (jumps). Freshman Erin Nett (jumps) is an impressive newcomer. The girls team, which numbers 50, was second in the county last year.

County high jump champ Brian Grimm, a senior, is the top boys returnee.

County meet placers Jay Vignola (400), Chris Siplin (hurdles), Scott Schoenberg (high jump), Jeff Kuck (pole vault), and Bob Joy (triple jump) return. Bryan Jeunette and A.J. Johnson are top prospects in the sprints.

C. Milton Wright Mustangs

This could be described as a rebuilding year for the Wright boys. Gone are athletes who scored 60 percent of the points in winning the county title. Shot putter Will Hanks is the only county champ who returns.

"I lost some strong people last year," said coach Bob Johnson. "But I've got a good bunch coming back."

Sophomore distance runner Eric Benjamin is expected to dominate the 800 and 1,600 in the county, with junior Dave Warnick giving strong support in the 3,200. Duane Fisher and Ryan Lesh provide a 1-2 punch in the hurdles.

Other returnees are Jason Stiles and Todd Behler (sprints), Will Steedman (400, 800), Brian Harris (distance), Kevin Slezak and John Judy (long jump), and Larry Taylor (vault). In the high jump, Johnson sees strong potential in newcomers Marcus Perkins and Cory Smith.

"Our strength is in distance events," said girls coach Barbara Johnson, whose team placed third in the county and lost only to Fallston in regular meets last year.

Amy Altman, Jen Englehart, Mary Beth Rollins and Kelly Coogan provide outstanding depth in the distances. Liz Kaiss returns in the 400 and Beth Walls and Brie Kotula in the sprints. Freshman Kelly Jones and Angela Fisher show promise in the sprints. The team has 65 girls, 32 of them newcomers.

Edgewood Rams

Although the Rams have lost four-time Harford sprint champ Rebecca Lesesne to eligibility and shot put champ Tiffany Higgins to transfer, coaches Roy Norris and Don Todero are optimistic.

Returning are three members of the sprint relay team that placed second in the state meet: Crystal Thomas, Erica Brown and All-County selection Delicia Haynes. Newcomers Tanisha Ellis and Nicole Brazil make the Rams the team to beat in the short relays.

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