Weather chills Western's hopes Big meets loom: Doves romped to city indoor championship, but lack of practice time may hurt them in regionals and states.

February 11, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Western's track team won the Baltimore City girls indoor track championship two weeks ago, but the Doves still feel as if they're running behind.

No wonder. Snowy weather has wreaked so much havoc on this indoor season that the Doves have run only three meets. One of those was before Christmas. The other two came within a span of three days in late January.

Practice schedules have been disrupted, too. Instead of running outside on the track, the Doves have been forced into the gym most of the time -- if the basketball team is not practicing.

With the Class 4A North regional championships coming up Tuesday at the Fifth Regiment Armory and the state finals looming eight days later, the Doves are trying to make up for lost time.

"It's been kind of tough," said senior sprinter Crystal Richburg. "We really didn't know our times for meets until the city championships on Jan. 22. That's what let us know where we want to be for regionals and states. Since we couldn't practice because of the snow, we've had a lot of setbacks. This week, we know we really have to work."

The Doves' best bets for individual honors are their city champions -- Elizabeth Johnson (800- and 1,600-meter runs), Toni Jefferson (55 --) and Shannon Moore (55 hurdles). Moore turned in the biggest surprise of the season, winning the event in only her second attempt at the hurdles.

Linaya DeShields, Cornelya Mims and Richburg could contend, too. DeShields ran second at the city meet in the 55 -- while Mims was second in the shot put and Richburg third in the 500.

But the Doves' greatest strength is in their relays. They swept all three relays at the city championships.

"We usually win all the relays, if nothing else," said Doves coach ++ Jerry Molyneaux. "We don't have any spectacular runners, but we have all average runners or a little better. When you have all average people, you can win relays. When you run two spectacular runners and two poor runners, you can't usually win them."

In addition to some individual improvement, the relays have gotten a boost from sheer numbers. Last year, the Doves won the first city indoor crown with only six girls. This year, the Western team has 16 and is beginning to carve a niche among the other winter sport offerings.

"Because we're a new sport for city kids, other kids are already committed to doing other sports like swimming," said DeShields. "A lot of our [outdoor] team is in swimming. I was in dance last year, so I couldn't run, but there's a new rule now that we can do two sports, so I could run this year."

Molyneaux, a 1984 Olympian for the Virgin Islands, has coached the Doves to eight straight city outdoor titles as well as back-to-back indoor championships. But the Doves still are waiting for their first regional championship.

Even though Molyneaux calls this team "the best group talent-wise that I've had," it still may lack the depth to challenge Baltimore County powers Dulaney and Perry Hall for the regional title. Nonetheless Molyneaux said, "I don't think it's a long shot."

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