Many are in hunt for Howard track titles Atholton and Centennial rate as boys favorites

girls race is wide-open

March 27, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Atholton, the defending Howard County, region and state Class 3A champion, and Centennial are favorites to win the county boys track title, but the girls championship could go to any one of eight schools.

The Raiders boys have potential state champions in three different jumps, the pole vault, the sprints and the middle distance relays.

However, Centennial, which battled but lost to Atholton for the county indoor title, should again be challenging the Raiders. The Eagles have balance and depth and have picked up two new quality sprinters -- an addition in an area where Centennial was weak.

Wilde Lake can't be counted out as a contender, because the Wildecats have added two quality sprinters to go with their strong distance performers.

Oakland Mills, winner of four straight state titles, is unlikely to make it five straight.

Long Reach has quality sprinters on both its boys and girls teams and could surprise.

The girls race is wide-open and has no favorite. It promises to be one of the most competitive county championships ever.

Atholton Raiders

Mike Eshoo, defending state outdoor champion pole vaulter, is a senior who jumped 13 feet, 6 inches and leads the Raiders' defense of their county, region and state title sweep.

Senior Keith Jefferson is a potential state champ in the long (22-8) and triple (43-9) jumps and the 400-meter relay. He was third in the long jump at states and won county titles in long jump, triple jump and 400 relay.

Another senior, Cian Oatts, is a potential state champ in the 100 and 200 sprints. He finished seventh in the nation in the 200, both outdoors and indoors. Oatts won four county gold medals last season in the 100, 200, and 400 and 800 relays.

Senior high jumper Ryan Moore hit 6-0 and was the indoor county and region champ and finished third in the state indoors.

Nick Baressi is a junior distance runner who'll score points for the Raiders. Alex Buell is a senior pole vaulter who should contribute.

Both the 3,200 and 1,600 relay teams should contend for state titles.

The Raiders have a new coach, Chris Rhode, who replaces All-Metro Coach of the Year Pat Saunderson, Atholton's new athletic director. This is Rhode's fifth season working with the outdoor team, however. He was a state pole vault champ and 3,200 relay state champ at Glenelg, and a decathlon performer at Maryland.

"We have a lot of work to do, coming off a great indoor season," Rhode said. "Oatts and Jefferson are being recruited by Division I schools and need to stay healthy."

The girls team is one of many title contenders, and is led by returning county and region discus champion Janelle Rosip, a senior who finished third in the state.

Tenisha Chester shares the county indoor record in the pole vault at nine feet, and is a 4-10 high jumper. The junior will also run relays and is Atholton's most versatile athlete.

Sophomore Michelle Nelson was third in the county and region 55 dash.

Others expected to contribute are Julie Kapcala in the pole vault and shot put, Tiffany Harvey in the hurdles, jumps and relays, Cheryl Staab in the 200 and 400, Amanda Lipscomb in the 1,600 and 3,200 and captain Wendy Sare in distance events.

Centennial Eagles

The Eagles boys will be competitive in all events except the long and triple jumps and the shot and discus.

Jeff Olenick and Eric Myers are strong distance runners. Two football players, Jason Zolak and Chip Harrison, are back after not running last year and join John Thompson for a vastly improved sprint crew.

Ben Cosgrove and Steve Jones both posted good indoor seasons in the hurdles. Dave Johnson is one of the county's best pole vaulters. Ryan Smith is a 6-0 high jumper. All of them are seniors.

Junior Chris Smith is a 5-10 high jumper and sophomore Tom Fisher a 38-foot indoor shot putter.

The Eagles girls, under new coach Carrie Brunskill, an assistant coach the past three seasons, are led by county high-jump champ Meredith Price and sophomore shot putter and sprinter Icysis Richardson. Both were star basketball players.

Others to watch are senior sprinter and long jumper Cindy Echezarria, junior distance runner Suzy McCulloch and freshman sprinter Lori Fritz.

Glenelg Gladiators

Glenelg will score enough points to be competitive and should be among the top half of county boys teams.

Luke Reinke, the state indoor 1,600 champ, and Chris Selmer, the state indoor 500 and 800 champ and outdoor state 800 champ, are worth a lot of points. They also both performed on the state indoor and outdoor 3,200 relay championship teams.

The Glenelg girls won county and region indoor titles, but outdoor coach Bill Godwin is pessimistic at this point about chances of an outdoor county title.

"We have only 12 girls and lost a half-dozen girls who scored in indoors," Godwin said.

Chief among the losses is senior shot-putter Katie Wise, the county indoor record holder. She was throwing 39 feet last season and had a shot at breaking the county outdoor record this season.

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