N. Carroll's boys could push a rebuilding Westminster Owls' girls team favored

S. Carroll impressive

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September 08, 1996|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Westminster boys coach Jim Gilford is starting a "rebuilding" year. But that word carries a different meaning for Gilford than for many other coaches.

Because of the success the Owls have had during his tenure -- 15 county titles in 16 years and not having finished worse than fourth in the state since 1983 -- Gilford looks at rebuilding almost as a challenge, or a test of his team's pride.

"We've had three or four of these years since the mid-1980s when we have a bunch of guys graduate," said Gilford. "But we don't take the next year off. You expect guys to step up a level. It's part of the pride; it's kind of the Westminster pride."

Gilford will soon see how much pride the 1996 Owls have because they lost several key runners -- including 1995 County Runner of the Year Mike Recek -- from last year's state runner-up team. The coach likes what he's seen in early workouts, and said his final season on the job should be a good one.

Going for their 13th straight county title, the Owls get Greg Fisher back. The junior missed almost all of last season with an injury, but will combine with senior Dave Barnes (second in county, All-County) and freshman Josh Davis to form a tough top three.

In addition, the Owls have junior Ross Bair and senior Danny Carter. Bair paced the junior varsity last season, and Carter (All-County) took seventh in the county, 10th in the region and 19th in the state.

Carter also is recovering from surgery in June to repair a ruptured spleen suffered in a roller hockey accident. Gilford thinks Carter will be at his best by late in the season.

"I'm really enjoying this year and I've got a wonderful group," said Gilford. "If I wanted to look back after 17 years, I want to be able to say that, year in and year out, we've been there. I think that's entirely true."

Some others may be pushing Westminster a bit. Last year's runner-up, North Carroll, returns several from its eighth-place finish in the state and should get better.

Junior Jeremy Cuno (All-County) should lead the way. He rallied late last year and capped it off with an 11th-place finish in the state meet. Senior Neil Lagatare is second and not far behind with classmates John Hale, Kevin Donaldson and Ralph Henry making a strong pack.

"They understand what I'm looking for, and they instill that in the younger guys," said North Carroll coach Tom Davidson.

South Carroll finished third in the county, and coach Rob Pennington has another good team. Junior transfer Steve McClearn (from Illinois) shined in preseason workouts and should combine with senior Sean Rayford and junior Adam McCready to give the Cavaliers a potent top three.

Liberty took fourth in the county last season, and its young team keeps improving. Led by top runner Bobby Ward (fourth in county, All-County), the Lions should keep moving up. Coach Dan Jones said the junior is a relentless worker who keeps trying to get better, often running twice a day.

Following Ward are juniors Mike Veise, Shawn Hanley and Kevin Rose, plus sophomore Nathan Gilmore.

For Francis Scott Key, this could be a bit of a breakthrough year. The Eagles, who won the Class 1A state title in outdoor track and field, have many underclassmen that coach Rich Salkin said may now be hitting their stride. They finished fifth in the county last year, but won their region and took fourth in the state.

Over on the other side, the Westminster girls have the ability to defend their county title -- the question is if they'll be pushed.

The Owls have a strong team with good depth -- 30 overall -- and return several from last year's group that was runner-up in the Central Maryland Conference and the region before finishing sixth in the state.

Coach Jim Shank has a good group of runners that can finish in different orders every day. Four of the top are junior Jessica Detrow (fifth in county, All-County), sophomore Angie Baer, junior Jill Snavlin and sophomore Sarah Brumfitt (second in county).

Shank also expects plenty of help from junior Emily Beninghove, senior Meghan Smith and sophomore Sarah Backhaus.

South Carroll may give the Owls their toughest fight. With county champion and Runner of the Year Jill Krebs back, Pennington's crew should be tough.

Krebs (junior, third in CMC and region, fourth in state) will hook up with seniors Carrie Braun (All-County) and Becky Alvarez for a strong top three. Senior Annie Mullins and sophomore Jody Sharpe also are impressive and should help the Cavaliers do well.

Liberty is another team that keeps improving. The Lions, who beat Key last week, will be led by senior Nettie Vasbinder. Brittany Collins (junior), Gwen Gilmore (sophomore), Reagan Hughes (senior) and junior Katie Skierski also should do well for Jones.

For Key, junior Dawn Harner (first in region, All-County) leads the way, followed by sophomore Elizabeth Kurrle, junior Kristen Engel and sophomores Colleen Nicholson and Jessica Fitzgerald.

North Carroll is led by seniors Chris Mullinix, Trisha Sater and Courtney Mattingly. Junior Jessica Bowen and sophomore Sarah Foor-Hogue continue to improve.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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