Westminster seeking OK for new winter program If approved, other schools likely to form teams, too

Indoor track

December 05, 1997|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Westminster High School has requested permission from the county school board to run an indoor track program this winter, the first in Carroll County in at least 15 years.

The school's proposal is scheduled for a Dec. 10 presentation to the board, and officials hope for approval.

Sherri-Le Bream, Westminster's principal, said her school was the lone Class 4A school in the state without an indoor track program. Westminster has long been a force in cross country and outdoor track and field, and won its second straight boys cross country state title last month.

Indoor track is not in the county's budget this season, but Bream said it won't cost it any money. School boosters will help with some expenses, and donations of time and facilities should make up the rest.

For example, Jim Shank, who helps coach the Westminster cross country and track and field programs, would donate his time to run this winter's team. He also would give time for the runners to train at the Carroll Indoor Sports Center that he owns, about a mile from the school.

"We've been very anxious to hear the disposition of it," said Bream.

If approved, state rules will force Westminster to practice 20 days before competing in a meet -- and the Owls already have received several invitations for January and February competition.

The Owls' approval would clear the way for the rest of the county to run this winter, as well. Shank said Westminster's approval would enable other schools to jump right in this season without proposals. He also said he has heard from most of the other schools.

"I think there's always been talks and rumblings about 'let's get indoor track back,' but nobody's really taken the initiative," said Shank. "This will provide for both boys and girls, but if anything, this will provide additional opportunities for girls, because there aren't many [options] for them in the winter."

The county has been without indoor track since the early 1980s. Low numbers of participants and coaches, as well as safety concerns, pushed the county to drop indoor track.

But a push to bring it back has surfaced. Westminster, for example, has had students run on an informal winter team the past two winters. Shank started the formal process last spring, going to Westminster administrators.

The next question would be about the future. Bruce Cowan, supervisor for physical education and athletics for Carroll County, said he would consider getting county-wide approval next year if Westminster's request is approved.

South Carroll coach Rob Pennington, whose boys cross country team won the Class 3A state title last month, said the re-birth of indoor track would be a tremendous help to the whole county.

County schools have done well in outdoor track but often struggle early in the season against regional opponents from Frederick and Montgomery counties because of their three-month break.

"When we start in the spring, we're six or seven weeks behind in training," said Pennington, All-Metro Coach of the Year.

Pub Date: 12/05/97

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