Trying to beat clock spurs Howard to times of his life Top of ladder: Atholton's talented Jared Howard has sights set on breaking as many records as he possibly can.

January 17, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Runners, take your mark.

Jared Howard likes to run.

Set.

But he loves to race.

The starter's gun sounds.

"It's all about you and the clock," said Howard, a senior sprinter TC on Atholton's indoor track team. "I go out strong and I go out to win."

Howard is a gifted runner, one of the best in the state. In last year's county, region and state championships, he earned 10 gold medals and was named The Sun's Boys Performer of the Year in Howard County.

"He kind of dominates the sport right now in this county," said Atholton coach Pat Saunderson.

In last year's county championship, Howard won the 300 and 500 and was part of the victorious 800 and 1,600 relay teams. In tomorrow's county championship at the Fifth Regiment Armory, Saunderson said Howard will run the 500 along with the 800 and 1,600 relays, but wasn't sure about his fourth event.

What Saunderson is certain about is that Howard will try very hard in the next five weeks to break the county 500 record of 1 minute, 7.3 seconds set by Matt Holthaus of Wilde Lake during the 1989-90 season.

Howard (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) set the school record in the 500 at the Baltimore Metro Invitational in December with a time of 1:08.1.

"It's a pretty big challenge," said Howard, "but I expect to meet it."

Howard's self-confidence has been earned through hard work and a strong desire to be the best.

"He has a drive to win, a drive to excel," said Saunderson. "He will do whatever it takes to win the race."

Said Howard: "I guess you'd call it heart. I want to win. I want to break records. My goal is to set a record and leave my mark until somebody can come and beat it."

Howard, who is a part of two indoor and four outdoor relay teams that hold school records, began running outdoor track as a freshman in Rochester, N.Y.

"I did it to just be in shape for other sports," said Howard, who played junior varsity football and basketball.

His family moved to the Oakland Mills district before his sophomore year, and Howard again played JV football. Midway through the season, however, he dislocated his left shoulder.

"It made me re-evaluate my sport," he said.

Howard attended Oakland Mills for only a semester before his family moved again, this time into the Atholton district. He didn't run indoors, but did run outdoors.

In the summer between his sophomore and junior years, Howard and his best friend and teammate, Max Clifford, were urged by two other teammates -- Keith Jefferson and Cian Oatts -- to join a club track team called the Columbia Express Elite.

It was then that Howard met coach Richard Stebbins, who won a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics as the third leg of the U.S. 4x1 relay team.

"He was like no other coach I ever had," said Howard. "He was the first coach to get me into the psychological aspects of track and to get me into a winning attitude. He helped me gain self-confidence."

Stebbins, a teacher at Mayfield Middle School, also got Howard to focus more on his time.

"He has a lot of natural ability to do some wondrous things," said Stebbins.

Despite his success as a junior, it wasn't until this past summer that Howard felt he belonged as one of area's best. Running in the 200, Howard missed qualifying for the National Junior Olympics by one-tenth of a second.

"It made me realize that I was better at this than I thought," Howard said. "I didn't think I was close to that level."

Now, in his senior year, Howard will keep eating Power Bars and try to break as many records as he can. Then he and Clifford hope to attend the same college, possibly UMBC.

"He's a student of the sport," said Atholton's Eddie Ivory, who coaches the sprinters. "He takes a little out of each meet to learn a little more. He has a lot of talent, and a lot of promise as a runner."

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