Boys, girls, as a full team, Bel Air looks loaded in '97 At usual champ Wright, it's a year to rebuild

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September 12, 1997|By Bill Blewett | Bill Blewett,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Twelve years have passed since Bel Air High School last won a Harford County cross-country title, 17 years since it won the girls title, and 19 years since it won both the boys and girls crowns.

As the new season toes the starting line this week, the Bobcats appear ready to end their title drought in the sport.

Bel Air returns almost intact the squads that finished second in both the boys and girls races at the county meet last October.

"If everyone stays healthy, we will have a very, very good year," said Bel Air boys coach Donnie Mickey, who lost just one of his 1996 top six, All-County runner Shawn Loper.

Brad Stone, a tenacious, front-running senior, has returned to lead the Bobcat boys. Stone, who was the county wrestling champion at 103 pounds, ran 60 to 70 miles a week through July and August and bicycled 2,500 miles over the summer.

"He is one tough cookie," said Mickey. "He loves to work out."

Senior Jonathan Zader, juniors Kris Traut and Christian Honig, and sophomores Pat Rossbach and Steve Guignet provide depth for the Bobcats.

Meredith Eyler and Megan Openhym, who were fifth and sixth respectively in the county meet last year, lead Bel Air's girls. Eyler missed the first meet due to an injury but is expected to return soon. Also back are Tara Rossi and Hillary Kahoe, who placed in the top 10 in the county.

C. Milton Wright: For this perennial power, 1997 is a rebuilding year. The teams of Bob and Barbara Johnson, which have won 17 of a possible 20 team titles in 10 years, lost five of their top boys and four of their top girls to graduation. They return two of the county's swiftest individuals, however.

Wright's Kelly Coogan is clearly the runner to beat among the girls. In a scrimmage meet last week, the All-County senior finished a half mile ahead of the pack and ran more than a !B minute faster than her opening meet a year ago.

"She just looks terrific," said coach Barbara Johnson. "She is so far ahead of the other girls; she wishes she could race with the boys."

Senior Jeff Tolson, a 1: 58 half-miler in track, is the leader of the Mustang boys. Though he hasn't run cross country since his freshman year, he is in top shape and is likely to challenge Stone at the front of the pack.

Fallston: For the girls team, this season had the promise of being an exceptional one. But injuries hobbled two top runners, county track champs Amy Datsko and Meredith Fender, and both are still on the road to recovery. Too, the Cougars had planned to welcome age-group phenomenon Kacie Remeto from Fallston Middle School. Remeto decided in June, however, to attend McDonogh School.

The Cougars still have potential for a county title, with returnees Leanne Haslbeck and Melanie Bender supporting Datsko and Fender.

The Fallston boys team is also a threat. It returns four seniors who were the core of the Cougars' county championship team of 1994: Nick Sayers, John Erickson, Dave Huber, and Jon Nelson.

"If everybody stays healthy we will give Bel Air a run for their money," said coach Greg Thompson.

North Harford: This is a young team that may produce a surprise in both boys and girls competition. The Hawk girls outran C. Milton Wright last Friday. Both lost by close scores to Fallston. Scott Cover leads the boys and Beth Fox, the girls.

Other outstanding returnees are Becky Strobel of John Carroll, Beth Hadrys of Joppatowne, and Angie Hill of Havre de Grace. Hill, a sophomore, was the runner-up in half mile at the Class 1A state track meet last spring.

For the first time in many years, the Harford County Championships will not be held at the traditional site, Harford Glen. The meet will be held at C.M. Wright because of construction at Harford Glen.

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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