Wright again hungry for boys, girls titles CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW

September 17, 1995|By Bill Blewett | Bill Blewett,Special to The Sun

Breakfast attendance is up on Saturdays at Bob and Barbara Johnson's home near Bel Air. As a leading indicator of cross country fortunes, that points to a good year for the C. Milton Wright Mustangs.

"All 40 have been showing up, and it's a real houseful," said Barbara Johnson, coach of Wright's girls team. She and her husband, Bob, the boys coach, have played host to the Saturday sessions of hill running and breakfast for the last eight cross country seasons.

"This is one of the most motivated groups we've had, maybe not as fast as some, but more motivated," said Bob.

The motivation may result from expectations, or vice versa, but both are high. With returnees Eric Benjamin (1994 county boys champ) and Jen Englehart (1993 girls champ) and outstanding depth, the Mustangs are favored to win both titles -- again.

In Englehart, Kelly Coogan and Mary Beth Rollins, the girls have an exceptional top three. Englehart was second and Coogan third in the county meet last year. Newcomer Rollins set a school record at 3,200 meters in track.

Among the boys, Benjamin is in top shape after a summer of Junior Olympics competition. Also returning is All-County runner Dave Warnick.

Although they have 16 boys and 24 girls, the Mustangs are not the county's largest team. Fallston claims that distinction with 18 boys and 32 girls.

Shalini Ayyagari, Erin Chlumsky and Lisa Henninger lead the Cougars. Two promising freshmen are Leanne Haslbeck and Amy Datsko.

Coach Donnie Mickey's Fallston boys, county champions last fall, face the task of rebuilding. Mike Martinek and Nick Sayers, both All-County, are the leading returnees. Sophomores John Nelson, John Erickson and Dave Huber are in the top five.

Under new coach Jim Otte, Bel Air will be a strong contender in boys competition.

Team leader Brad Stone is out after an appendectomy earlier this month and won't return until October. Still, the boys have a strong threesome in Tim Kuck, Blaine Woehr and Shawn Loper.

Lauren Hafer and Meredith Eyler lead the Bobcats' girls. Among their six teammates, however, no one has cross country experience.

Jason Bulluck and Jeremiah Briendel are Edgewood's swiftest. Veteran coach John Low lists Rob Allen, Darrin Young, Roy Mitchell and Russell Ayers as promising runners. Girls coach Marva Choates does not yet have a full team.

Tim and Don Glaser, transfers from Germany, are at the front of the pack at Aberdeen. They along with Adam and Luke Vesely and Andrew Wilson give coach Eric Kemp optimism.

Aberdeen's girls team, coached by Donna Lewis, consists of five newcomers.

All-County returnee Megan McNew is the bright spot for Paunee Erickson's North Harford girls. Fourth in the county last fall, McNew broke up Wright's top three in a meet last Friday. Ryan Bourleis and Nathan Knauer are the top runners for coach Dave Starnes' inexperienced boys team.

Havre de Grace doesn't have a full team yet, but does have a strong runner in Rodney Bolen, who won the opener against Fallston Monday. Coached by Mike Knoll, the boys team includes Eric Walters and Chris Smith. Sarah and Susan Whatley and Lisa Romanelli are on the girls team coached by Scott Rundle.

"We're totally rebuilding the girls team," said John Carroll coach Bernie Mullin. "Our boys outlook is a little brighter."

Leaders among the girls are Becky Strobel and Kate Cochran. Bob Titleman, Brian Jaeger and David Plaskonka head the list of boys.

"It's nice to field a girls team for the second year in a row," said Cindy Ordes, who with Dan Gaughan coaches Joppatowne.

Beth Hadrys, All-County as a freshman, is the leader among four returnees: Desiree Standiford, Chris Torres and Kaity Wolskie.

Senior Steve Morgan paces the Mariners boys team of Jeff Businski, Tim Coale, Larry Shepard, Harrison Slator, Steve Litschaver and Billy Volmer.

Mike Knefel returns as captain and a strong No. 1 runner for Harford Tech, along with Paul Ledebur, Eric and Kevin Agan, Billy Garrett and Nat Wilson. The girls team has Christy McKinnon and Melissa Smith. Becky Fitzgerald and Bob Ober are the coaches.

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