Wilde Lake goes deep to win Striders Olenick takes boys race for 2nd-place Centennial

September 21, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

With each season, Wilde Lake's cross country program builds a stronger reputation.

Wilde Lake has won back-to-back county and regional championships, and finished second in the state Class 2A competition the past two seasons.

Even though the Wildecats graduated four of their top five boys, that didn't stop the Columbia school from winning yesterday's Howard County Striders Invitational at Howard Community College.

In the process, the youthful Wildecats left little doubt that again they are the team to beat for the Howard County title.

Wilde Lake overcame a one-two finish by Centennial's Jeff Olenick and Eric Myers by placing its first five runners among the top 24.

"We were hoping our depth would get Centennial," Wilde Lake coach Charlie Shoemaker said. "I believe in them, and they believe in themselves, and there's not a senior in that bunch."

Wilde Lake's pack included Aaron Blum (sixth), Ben Coffman (10th), Kurt Mueller (16th), Jason Eichmiller (22nd) and Joey Yahr (24th).

Wilde Lake finished second to Centennial in the Striders Invitational last season. This time Centennial finished second, trailing the Wildecats, 78-91.

Olenick was easily the best runner on the three-mile course, finishing in 16 minutes, 36 seconds. Only he and Myers (16: 52) finished under 17 minutes.

"I felt badly after 1,000 meters, but at the one-mile mark something just clicked in and I went faster and faster and built a big lead. I felt great at the end," said Olenick. It was his first victory at an invitational, and only the second meet he'd won.

Olenick said he was worried about Damascus runner Jim Stack, who finished 12th in the state last season. "He led for a mile today before I passed him," Olenick said. Stack faded to seventh place, and Damascus finished third with 114 points.

Walter Johnson won the girls competition with 94 points. Fallston and Mount Hebron tied for second with 122 points.

Thomas Johnson junior Jennifer M. Ford, second in the state meet last season, easily won the girls race and set a personal best of 18: 50, beating runner-up Amy Datsko of Fallston by 32 seconds. Junior Beth Santilli of River Hill was third.

Pub Date: 9/21/96

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