Centennial has numbers and talent to go the distance CROSS COUNTRY OVERVIEW

September 17, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

Centennial, fortified with the largest turnout in school history (45), is expected to win the boys county cross country championship and have a good shot at winning a state title.

Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills appear to be the next two best boys teams with Atholton, Howard, Hammond and Glenelg looking to break into the top four.

The Centennial girls, who turned out in a school-record number (28), also are the favorite to take the county championship and will challenge for a state title.

Oakland Mills, Atholton, Wilde Lake and Glenelg should be the top county challengers to Centennial.

Atholton Raiders

Atholton has 74 boys and 34 girls, the biggest turnout of any school in county history, and for the first time will have a travel squad of 25 boys and 25 girls.

Senior Zach Tropf is a runner to watch after his fifth-place county finish and an 11th at states earned him All-County honors.

The Raiders finished fourth in the county and 10th at states.

Joining Tropf is senior Anthony Fleg (10th county).

Earl Lauer, coaching his 25th season of cross country (23 years at Atholton), also expects good things from freshman Mike Prada. Junior Jeff Bailey, senior Steve Allison and sophomore Sean O'Hargen will compete for the fourth and fifth spots.

Dana Strickland, Class 2A state champion and first-team All-Metro, returns for her final season having made a strong commitment to running this summer. She is expected to win the county and regional meets, but because Atholton has moved up to Class 3A, she will face the nearly impossible task of defeating Walter Johnson's Sally Glynn at the state meet.

Freshman Kelli Block has stepped up as Atholton's No. 2 runner. Senior Jessica Henry is No. 3, and junior Amanda Lipscomb (14th county) is No. 4. Junior Chelsea Hartz (15th county) and sophomore Wendy Sare will battle for No. 5.

The Atholton girls finished fourth in the county and ninth in the state.

Centennial Eagles

Senior All-County runner Mike French leads a boys team that already has won the Jack Griffin and Howard County Striders invitationals this season, an accomplishment that has it hoping for a state championship. Calvert Hall and Curley were among the teams at Griffin.

"Two years ago when we won a state title we started out by winning the Griffin and the Howard County invitationals," coach Al Dodds said.

French (fourth county, second state) finished sixth at the Griffin and fourth at the Striders, but is capable of winning most races on any given day.

The pecking order is junior Eric Myers (eighth county, 12th state), senior Matt Augustin (13th county), junior Jeff Olenick, first-year senior Tom Schappeler, senior Brian Higgens, junior Josh Sternfeld and senior Charlie Simms.

"We have four of our top five boys back, and last year we had none of our top four," Dodds said.

Senior All-Metro runner Kari Meyer (second county, ninth state) heads the girls team that finished fifth at Griffin and second at the Striders.

"This is the girls' best start ever," Dodds said. "Historically, we start slowly."

Sophomore Sarah Ordaz is No. 2 and freshman Leigh Tillman No. 3. Returning junior Alison Pople (11th county) is being pressured by freshman Neha Amin for the No. 4 spot, with senior Jessica Tatania also close. Sophomores Rebecca Kulak and Sarah Cooke are running well.

The Centennial boys finished second in the state last year and the girls were eighth.

Glenelg Gladiators

Junior Chris Selmer (ninth state) finished strong last season, giving Glenelg hopes of a better 1995. The Gladiators finished last in the county.

Senior Luis Diaz, a former soccer player, has moved into the No. 2 slot behind Selmer. And junior Sam Bettien is No. 3. After that, juniors David Holland, Sean Madden, Jason Habert and Sanjay Pant, and sophomore Bryan Stepp are fighting for positions.

"After finishing last in the county we were fourth in the region and 15th in the state last year, so that shows you how tough the county is," Glenelg coach Roger Volrath said. "Our boys' goals are top four in the county and top 10 in the state."

With no seniors, the girls team is unusually young, but All-County sophomore captain Beth Santilli (third county, fourth state) is stronger and hoping to lead a resurgence for the Gladiators, who finished sixth in the county meet and 10th in the Class 2A state meet.

Sophomores Elizabeth Dodmead and Joanna Bissell supply Glenelg with quality No. 2 and No. 3 runners.

Beyond them, sophomores Anna Edmonston and Marianne Hayden, and juniors Meggan Brown and Sarah Kellinger hope to score points. The Gladiators also have promising freshmen Kirsten Hogan.

Glenelg Country Dragons

Last season the Dragons went 20-1, losing only to Potomac (Va.).

That kind of season is unlikely this year, because the boys squad is down from 23 to 14 and has only two seniors.

But the Dragons have two outstanding freshmen who would be welcome at any school in the county -- Zach Heidepriem (No. 1) and Jonathan Bullock (No. 2).

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