Key ready to face 2A hurdle Last year's 1A champs say they're up to task

Westminster also strong

Track and field preview

March 22, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hurdles are nothing new for Francis Scott Key. The Eagles' boys have won the Class 1A state championship the past two seasons while the girls have put together a string of solid performances at that meet, but both teams always seem to have to fight for true respect.

But just when everything looked settled, a new hurdle appeared. The Eagles have moved up to Class 2A this year, but coaches Angie Green and Rich Salkin aren't letting it bother them or their teams.

"It's definitely not something that we can complain about or use as an excuse," said Salkin. "The reason that we're a Class 2A school now is that we're big enough to be one. Even in the Class 1A state championships, we were not always the undeniable favorite."

Seniors Scott Glover and Aaron Howard are back to try their luck at the next level. The Eagles will look for points any way they can get them, always putting athletes in more than one area. Glover, for example, runs the 400 and 800 meters -- but also competes in the relays.

He won the 800 in the states, took second in the 300 and helped score more than 30 points both times in the two state meets. Howard follows a similar path, as he won the 400 and helped the relays rack up points.

Seniors Charlie Poole, Mike Pizza, Frank Hansborough and Matt Gronaw are back. Poole took third in the state in the discus, while Pizza was strong on the relays. Hansborough proved a consistent middle distance threat while Gronaw scored points in the sprints.

Sophomore Colin Russell comes off a strong season in cross country and will help in distance runs and junior Clint Day will provide pole vault points.

Salkin likes the middle distance and sprints. Relays will again help the Eagles score much-needed points, especially since they are in Class 2A .

"I think that some of our seniors will really help to make the change a successful one," said Salkin. "We are going into the 2As with seniors who have experience in state competition."

The girls are not as much of a senior-dominated team, but Green's group brings plenty of talent to the starting line. Senior Dawn Harner should finish her career in style with a strong season in the 1,600 and 3,200. She'll also help out in the 3,200 relay.

Sophomores Emily Scyford (100, sprint relays and shot put) and Jackie Kram (sprints, long and triple jumps) will score points. Seniors Heather Abel (jumping, pole vault and relays) and Amanda Leckron (middle distance), plus junior Melissa Merson (middle distance, hurdles and relays) round out a strong group that will be helped by some impressive freshmen.

The Westminster boys will be helped by a solid corps of distance runners that captured a second straight Class 4A state title in cross country last fall. Junior Jason Santucci, the cross country Runner of the Year who won the state championship, should combine with up-and-coming sophomore Ross Davis to give the Owls a solid top pair.

Davis turned in a big freshman year, clocking under 4 minutes, 40 seconds in the 1,600 last season, and coaches Jim Shank and Tom Fisher expect more of the same this season. Senior Ross Bair and sophomore Jesse O'Connell also will help the Owls this season in distance races.

Hurdles should be the other strong area for the Westminster boys. Seniors James Joyce and Eric Lohnes plus sophomore Jared Craig all placed well in the county and Central Maryland Conference meets last year, and should give the Owls more points this year.

The Owls will be good in the throws, led by senior Beau Ridgeway (second in the state during indoor) and classmate Russell Smith. Westminster again won the county title and took third in the CMC last spring, but this year it will helped by the new indoor program.

The girls also won the county last year and finished third in the CMC, but they hope to make a move in the conference. Frederick lost a number of key performers and while Linganore and Thomas Johnson will again be strong, the door could be open for Westminster to go higher.

Senior sprinter Thea Bayly hopes to again dominate the county like last year. Bayly captured the 100, 200 and 400 meters last spring and is even stronger this year.

Mandy Komar led the team's distance runners last year as a freshman, and she's back, along with junior Beth Vigliotti and others. Junior high jumper Becky Kuchera, who placed in the state meet last year, returns as does pole vaulter Cindy Reese. She took second in the state last year.

Sophomore Kiara Adams should help in the shot put and twins Emily and Jessica Hester both will score points in the discus.

South Carroll also should have help from last fall's Class 3A cross country state title team.

"They're approaching things the same way they did in the fall," said coach Rob Pennington. "They're just going out and having fun"

Distance remains the strong area. Senior Steve McClearn (third in the state in the fall, top five in the 1,600 and 3,200 last spring) just keeps getting better. Classmate Adam McCready, sophomore Dan Ely plus freshmen Matt Adami and Bobby Mead.

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