Oakland Mills boys, Howard girls lead the pack Record performances could highlight season

March 24, 1996|By Chuck Acquisto | Chuck Acquisto,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

On paper, the Oakland Mills boys and the Howard girls track and field teams are the county's prohibitive favorites in an outdoor season that shows promise for record individual performances as well as an opportunity for one senior class to set a new standard.

Oakland Mills coach Sam Singleton has his ranked Scorpions boys team zeroing in on the rarest of prep feats a fourth straight Class 2A state title.

"Sure we've been a little bit lucky, but I've told our 15 to 20 seniors they have a chance to accomplish something so special by capturing a fourth state title," said Singleton.

With nine out of 15 of last year's all-county boys performers returning, strong competition could bring down a number of county track and field records.

Coach Joe Thomas' Howard girls squad is also seeking to add to its state title mantle in the '90s, having claimed crowns last year and in 1992. The Lions, who return the most individual county medalists, are not nearly as deep as last year's team.

Atholton boys coach Pat Saunderson, whose Raiders wound up No. 5 in last year's final poll after losing by a single point to Oakland Mills in the 2A state finals, will be paced by a senior trio of returning all-county performers. Atholton defeated Oakland Mills twice in three meetings during last year's regular-meet season.

Senior Max Clifford claimed a combined eight gold medals at the county, regional and state meets as a member of the Raiders relay teams. Jared Howard added three gold medals at the states, capturing the 400-meter title at the county and state levels. Finally, Zack Tropf earned six medals (five silver) in postseason a year ago, and is a county favorite in the 1,600 (state 2A indoor champion) and 3,200 events.

As for the Atholton girls, senior Dana Strickland will look to carry the Raiders while adding to her wealth of cross country and track awards as one of the area's premier long-distance runners. Noosha Haghani, Stacey Havard and Jessica Henry show track promise, while seniors Chrissy Frentz and Janine Duaberman (jumper, 800) will contribute points in the field events.

Centennial boys coach Al Dodds always manages to field strong long-distance runners and high jumpers, and this season is no exception. Senior Mike French, a two-time all-county cross country runner, captured the 3,200 at this year's Class 3A indoor state meet and added a silver medal in the 800. Junior Jeff Olenick, Dodds' No. 2 cross country runner, joins the squad after two years of lacrosse and will be a factor in the long-distance events.

French's senior classmate Tom O'Connor is the county favorite in the high jump, having finished first in the 3A indoor regionals with a jump of 6 feet, 5 inches and a bronze medal at the indoor finals. Junior Dave Johnson will contribute in the pole vault (12-0) and relays, senior Mike Cochrane in the shot put (46-0) and junior Ben Cosgrove in the hurdles.

Centennial's girls team, coached by Beth Brown, is led by junior twins Kristy and Kathy Mitroka (field events).

Glenelg's boys team is highlighted by record-smashing pole vaulter Pat Tvarkunas. The senior Gladiator has no peer in the county, having earned gold medals last year at the region and state championships while setting a new county outdoor mark of 14-6. This past indoor season, Tvarkunas set another record by clearing 15-1 and later cleared 15-9 to finish third at the Indoor Scholastic competition in Boston.

Junior Chris Selmer leads the Gladiators track brigade that includes junior Luke Reinke (middle distance), senior Luis Diaz (400, 800) and senior Chris Seymour (long distance). Selmer won the 800 at last year's Class 2A state meet in 1 minute, 57.16 seconds, having medaled in the event at the county and region levels.

"I see the outdoor season being similar to indoor in that will have trouble in the county meets because we don't have broad depth," said Gladiators boys coach Roger Volrath.

Glenelg's young girls team, the top indoor squad, features junior Katie Wise, sophomore Beth Santilli (distance), sophomore Leigh Bender (middle distance), and Megan Brown. Santilli, an All-County selection last season along with Wise, captured the 3,200 at the county indoor meet this year, upsetting Strickland of Atholton. The Gladiators' strength in the distance events will make meets with Howard and Wilde Lake extremely close.

Hammond's boys are again rebuilding, while the Golden Bears girls squad features senior sprinter Natasha Epps, sophomore all-county performer Thema Napier and Kim Keefe. Napier has shaken the rust from off-season knee surgery and will be a threat in the 400 and 800. Senior Becky Bays, an All-County indoor performer, will be the one to beat in the shot put (33-8 indoor county meet).

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