Carver aims at state records Full speed ahead: Bears coach Walter Cole thinks his sprinters can set the standard in the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter relays.

January 07, 1996|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Carver indoor track coach Walter Cole insists he's not concerned about giving anyone bulletin board material -- including defending outdoor state 4A champ Mervo -- or whether his high expectations will translate into pressure for his Bears.

"A goal we think that we can attain is breaking state records in all three sprint relay events -- the 400, 800 and 1,600," Cole said, "and I'm hoping that this kind of talking can pump up my kids."

Cole, 57, in his 33rd year of coaching -- 23rd at Carver -- said he had intended to use the indoor season "essentially for conditioning, weight training and building strength." But he has been pleasantly surprised at the talent and progress of his sprint corps.

It has been led by senior Andre Falcon, who was third outdoors in the state meet in the 100 and 200. Junior Bernard Williams is a transfer from Southwestern, where he ran 10.6 seconds in the 100 and 21.7 in the 200. Senior Nikemo Arrington transferred from Randallstown and "reminds me of a modern day Jim Thorpe," said Cole.

"This kid [Arrington] can potentially be first or second in four events," said Cole. "He's around 45-2 in the shot put, and was 140 in the discus outdoor. He was 10.7 in the 100, and 21.9 in the 200. I also found out he can hurdle and triple-jump."

Williams, whose best in the 55 is 6.47 seconds, was No. 1 in his first three indoor meets of the year. Falcon was twice runner-up to Williams, and Arrington third twice. "So we've swept meets twice," Cole said.

The 800 relay team of Falcon, Arrington, Williams and sophomore Jeffery Blair is unbeaten. In the 300, Falcon has been second twice, and Arrington placed as high as third in the shot put.

And the Bears have been successful without All-Metro sprinter Damean Johnson, off the team temporarily for disciplinary reasons. He's expected back in a few weeks, and it's no secret that he's the marquee name of the team.

"We don't have many distance runners, so we're all exceling in the sprints," said Falcon. "Our practice competition is very good, and we feel like we're all vying for the state championship in the 55. And if Damean comes back, we think we'll pretty much be unbeatable."

In a 400-meter showdown of last spring's outdoor city championships, Johnson faced Carter, last year's All-Metro Performer of the Year. Each crossed the line in an area-best 47.9 seconds, but Johnson, who had come from behind to catch Carter on the final turn, was declared the winner as he leaned his head over before Carter could. The clocking was a personal and area best for both.

Also outdoors, Johnson won the regions in the 400 and was second in the state meet, where he also anchored the Bears' state champion 1,600 relay squad (3:25.51). He also won the city high jump crown, was third in the region and second in the state in 6-2.

Both of them were members of the Ed Waters Track Club this past summer, where they alternated as anchors on the 1,600 relay squad in the 17-18 age group.

At a summer AAU Nationals event at Drake University, Johnson debuted by being a runner-up in the 200 in 21.18 and running the third leg on a runner-up 1,600 relay squad (3:11.60) that included All-Metros Garfield Thompson and James Carter of Mervo. The team ran a 3:10.80 in the trials, faster than any Maryland college squad.

"The kids ran together all summer, and Damean beat Carter a few times. There's been a lot of good-natured talking, but it's a good, friendly rivalry," Cole said, "But I think Mervo knows that it's domination in the sprints is over."

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