Snow couldn't stop Santilli and Glenelg Title captured: Gladiators upset Howard to win first indoor crown since '92 for first-year coach.

January 24, 1996|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

The snow was too deep, the roads too slippery.

What's a runner to do?

"I ran for half an hour to an hour in my basement every other day," said Glenelg sophomore Beth Santilli.

Big basement?

"No, not at all," Santilli said. "I ran in place. Sometimes I ran around it."

The Blizzard of '96 hampered those athletes participating in last Thursday's county indoor track and field championships. It eliminated a week of training, leaving the athletes with two school days before the meet.

Santilli and her teammates survived the inactivity a little better than the rest. The third-ranked Gladiators defeated defending champion and second-place finisher Howard by 10 points for their first county title since 1992.

Santilli said first-year coach Mike Selmer had a lot to do with the victory.

"The day before the meet, we had an inspirational practice," Santilli said. "Mr. Selmer brought us down to the trophy case. He said we could beat Howard and said we would put the trophy right here."

Selmer, a cabinet maker who coaches with the assistance of his wife, Kathleen, came to school Monday clutching the county trophy.

His speech aside, the credit, he said, goes to the team and to Santilli, who scored 26 points out of the team's 92.

"As far as team scoring goes, she's critical," said Selmer, whose son, Chris, is a junior on the Glenelg cross country and track teams. "She scores close to one-quarter of our [total] points.

"Besides that, she's 100 percent reliable. She's always at practice. She works as hard as anyone on the team and sets a real good example."

Santilli, a two-time All-County cross country performer, won the 1,600 meters and 800 in last year's indoor county championships. Last week, she finished second in the same events to Atholton's Dana Strickland, who decided to run indoor track this season instead of playing basketball.

Santilli, the second oldest of five girls in her family, ran the 3,200 for only the second time and won in 12 minutes, 44.3 seconds.

Her time of 5:39.9 in the 1,600 was three-tenths of a second slower then a year ago. But her 800 time of 2:37.4 was a good eight seconds behind last year's winning effort.

"I wasn't disappointed," said Santilli, who realized the inactivity hurt her as it did others. "I feel I could have done a little better, especially in the 800."

A 4.0 student -- one of her goals is to get straight A's throughout high school -- Santilli will not allow herself to get down.

"I never try to have a bad attitude about running," said Santilli, who starting running, but not seriously, with the Howard County Striders in the spring of seventh grade. "You have to have a positive attitude. It's all about using your mind, body and spirit."

After finishing well in her first cross country meet last year, Santilli, who is scheduled to be redistricted to River Hill in the fall, realized how much she enjoyed running.

"I didn't find it to be difficult," she said. "I found it to be a lot of fun. I really liked it."

On the track, Santilli, who finished third in the 1,600 and sixth in the 800 in last year's outdoor state meet, is total concentration.

"Every time I go out to run I try to set my best time," said Santilli, who is a SGA representative and a peer mediator at Glenelg.

"I run against myself. As long as I get a better time, I feel I've won."

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