The departure of Krissy Jost and Dave Russell has left Perry Hall's indoor track team with two huge pairs of shoes to fill.
With Jost at Villanova on a full scholarship and Russell soaring to new heights as a pole vaulter for UMBC, the Gators will be hard-pressed to sweep the Baltimore County titles as they did last season at the Fifth Regiment Armory.
"Parkville's boys look like the team to beat indoors. Joe Smith will carry them a long way," said Perry Hall coach Jerry Martin. "Dulaney should be totally dominant on the girls side. They have the distance runners and they usually have a strong contingent of sprinters. Their overall balance should keep the sprint schools away."
Don't start feeling sorry for the Gators just yet.
Perry Hall's boys team returns a host of talented distance runners, including Ryan Alessi, Chris Horodwicz and Jason Harle as well as Chaz DeGallford, who took third in the state in the shot put last winter.
The Gators girls team retained the services of Joanna Helm, the defending county champ in the 300 and 500, and also returns Heather Edwards (800, 1600) and Natalie Gassman (shot put).
Dulaney's girls team is led by the same group who helped the Lions repeat as state champions this past cross country season -- Meghan White, Suzanne Sclafani, Marjorie Bollinger, Meredith Fellman and Holly Zahner.
Jon Britt's Dulaney boys team has a good nucleus of ninth graders to complement veterans Shawn Sullivan (distance), Tim Mechlinski (middle distance), Alan Robert (sprint and hurdles) and pole vaulters Wes Leong and Matt Insley.
Catonsville's girls may not have the numbers to overcome county 4A powers Perry Hall or Dulaney at the Baltimore County championships, but Comets coach Jeff McDaniel hopes his team will be in the thick of things in the Class 1A-2A regions and states.
Brigid O'Connell, an All-Metro performer in cross country, will anchor the Comets girls team along with Tia Douglass and Renee Tirocchi while Andy Deal and Aaron Dixon lead the way for Catonsville's boys.
Parkville coach Don Wann, who was named Coach of the Year last year after leading the Knights to a Class 3A, Central Region title, sees no reason why his boys team can't repeat this season.
The Knights return one of the area's top distance runners in senior Joe Smith and a host of other promising athletes including Rob Gilman, Darren Larocque, Kenny McGinnis and Darryl Cooney.
Parkville's girls team pleasantly surprised Wann in an early-season meet at the Fifth Regiment Armory and he hopes Jen Geroux, Leeza Curnoles, Erica Santa-Cruz Elise Jones, Kim O'Donnell and Stepahnie Gnau continue to shock him this season.
As expected, Randallstown is strong in the sprints and relays but is thin in the distance and field events. The Rams boys team is led by sprinters Devin Johnson, Ben Rossi, Carl Chester and Melvin Brunson while their girls contingent returns speedster Paulette Shields, Molika Rogers (hurdles) and defending region champion shot putter Ameenah Hammett.
Craig Thompson and Nevell Hodge are expected to anchor Woodlawn's boys team and Catrice Jefferson, Desiree Darby and Crystal Cobb should lead the Warriors girls.
Lansdowne coach Chrissy McDonogh is hoping the commitment both her coaching staff and the athletes in the program will help the Vikings gain some recognition this winter. McDonogh is relying on Ron Monk, Stan Jones and Don Colvin to lift her boys team and hopes Tammy Pittman, Cheryl Noetzel and Nicole Twigg can turn things around for her girls squad.
Franklin coach Bob McIvor said his team doesn't have any "real superstars" but does have a number of talented athletes including John Rothlisberger, Pat Citroni, Morgan Lisby, Devon Brown, Amy Miller, Kim Dotson, Kate Citroni and Kara Wingate.
Milford Mill is rich in sprinters but poor in distance personnel. Andre Blackwell, Sean Galloway and Sean Fortune should make the Millers boys team competitive when the Class 1A-2A regionals roll around and Tiffany Bryant, Dana Sutton and Alikia Brown are poised to keep Milford Mill's girls team competitive.
Towson coach Gil Stang believes his Generals will be much more competitive in the Class 1A-2A North region now that the Howard County schools have been moved into the South region.
Their departure should improve Towson's chances of qualifying athletes for the states. Among some of Towson's hopefuls are Brian Nudsen, Adam Wierman, Rob Chalmers, Lee Synkowski, Mindy Bathurst, Meaghan Holland, Jesica Haywood and Becky Foster.
With 25 of his 38 girls still in the ninth and 10th grades, Hereford coach Sam Bowen is in for a rebuilding year. Sarah Rives, Jen Krantz and Bridget Wildt are among the few veterans on a squad Bowen says is "loaded with youth and potential."
Brian Migliarini, Hereford's boys coach, expects big things from Patrick Tyrrell, a running back on the Bulls football team, and David Lacrosse, a star on Hereford's lacrosse team.