Aberdeen, Wright appear head of class Defending champ Fallston is strong among girls

Track and field

March 26, 1996|By Bill Blewett | Bill Blewett,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

One element of last year's championship season is missing as the Aberdeen Eagles head into their county opener in track and field Thursday: the element of surprise.

"We're not going to sneak up on anybody this time," said Eric Kemp, who coached Aberdeen's boys to the county title last spring, their first since the meet began in 1973.

Just about all other pieces are in place, however, as they were when the Eagles came from nowhere last spring to end C. Milton Wright's eight-year string of county titles.

Ready for an encore are nine of the 13 Eagles who scored points in the upset victory. Foremost among them is Dondre Gilliam, the 2A state champ in the 200 and 400. He already has proven himself stronger this year, having gone undefeated in an East Coast indoor season with the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County.

Gilliam has a swift supporting cast in returnees Cliff Simmons (sprints), Reynaldo Viray (hurdles), Tommy Mims (jumps), Joey Magby (middle distance) and Mike Harris (throws). There are also a host of newcomers, brought out by the success of 1995.

"We're expecting a lot from our younger athletes," said Kemp. "But we have some holes to fill."

The C. Milton Wright boys hardly can be overlooked this season, however. The Mustangs appear to be the most balanced team in the county, with every event well covered.

Mainstays of the Mustangs' 60-man squad are sprinter Jason Stiles and two state-meet runners-up -- Duane Fisher in the hurdles and Eric Benjamin in the 3200.

The relative strengths of the two teams will become apparent Thursday when the Mustangs and Eagles face off in a dual meet.

Among girls teams, defending champion Fallston appears on track to claim its eighth county title of the last 10 years. Top returnees on the 73-girl squad are two All-County performers of the year, Becky Bystry ('95) and Cindy Wolf ('94).

C. Milton Wright's girls are also strong. Led by the swift distance duo of Mary Beth Rollins and Kelly Coogan, the Mustangs have both good range and depth among its 60 girls.

Numbers are up all around the county. With a total of 725 boys and girls out for track at the 10 high schools, the turnout is larger than last year's record number.

Aberdeen's girls have two dozen on the team, mostly newcomers. Sprinter Angela Simmons and hurdler Lia Vance lead the Eagles.

At Bel Air, the boys' team is strong in both the dashes and distances, with two-time county 100-meter champ Mike Wood leading the sprinters. The Bobcats girls have returning All-County performers Monica Grigora and Tiffany Higgins.

Edgewood's strength is in its sprinters and field events with both boys and girls teams. Erica Brown, Crystal Thomas and Maurissa Willoughby head the girls' list. Coach Roy Norris has several newcomers among the 31 members of the boys' team.

The Fallston boys' roster of 50 athletes includes two All-County returnees, Pete Chamberlin and Tim Short, and many promising newcomers.

At Harford Tech, seniors Mike Knefel and Paul Ledebur are the top returnees among 18 boys and 20 girls.

Zakiyya Muhammad of Havre de Grace is the best among the county's returning girl sprinters. The Warriors have 30 girls and 20 boys, the latter led by Mike Grimsley and Rodney Bolen.

Versatile hurdler-jumper Amy Goetzinger, a county record holder, returns at John Carroll, where she has a talented understudy in freshman Katie McAvoy. The Patriots boys have 35 athletes and several promising newcomers.

Joppatowne faces a rebuilding year, but the numbers are up sharply. "We've got a lot of freshman," said coach Greg Komondor. "We're going to surprise some people with the girls' team."

Leading North Harford's boys team is returning state shot put champ Steven Shaw. County high jump champion Cara Johnson and distance runner Megan McNew head the squad of 55 girls.

Pub Date: 3/26/96

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