Indoor track gets call back to the starting line Sport missing since 1982 gets money from county

September 27, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Three of the county's five high schools will field indoor track teams this winter and the other two may do so, too, with the county Board of Education having approved money for the sport for the first time in 16 years.

Bruce Cowan, the county's supervisor of physical education and athletics, said approval of money for coaches and travel costs gives schools the option to field teams, although they're not required to start them.

"It looks like it's moving forward," he said. "We had to make sure everything was OK with [Westminster]."

The county had gone without indoor track since around 1982, but Westminster got school-board approval last winter for a pilot program that attracted 65 athletes and proved successful.

Westminster's booster club paid last winter's travel costs, and Jim Shank and Dick Estes coached for free. Despite starting nearly a month after most other schools, Westminster entered four meets, plus the regions and states.

Shank, who said Westminster had been Maryland's only Class 4A school without indoor track, was the driving force in getting the Owls' team -- and now the county's -- started.

Westminster will compete again this winter. North Carroll and Francis Scott Key officials said their schools will have teams, too.

Liberty athletic director Ken Johnson said his school is interested but needs a coach. South Carroll cross-country coach Rob Pennington said the Cavaliers also are likely to field a team but need the next few weeks to work out details.

North Carroll athletic director Bill Rumbaugh and Leo Totten, his Key counterpart, expressed similar views that new indoor teams would be especially beneficial to girls, whose only athletic activities in winter are basketball and cheerleading.

Rumbaugh added that "it's really going to benefit spring sports -- and not just track -- because it will keep the kids in shape and also involved in something."

Other than Westminster, North Carroll is the only school with coaches lined up. Rumbaugh said Jim MacDonald, who works with the outdoor track program, will lead the indoor team, assisted by Angie Jones.

The Panthers have a tentative five-meet schedule, not including post-season events, Rumbaugh said. Central Maryland Conference athletic directors are working to arrange a conference meet, as well, he said.

For Key, the Monocacy Valley Athletic League in which it competes has had a championship meet the past two years at Hagerstown Junior College.

So far, Cowan said, no county championship meet is planned.

The county's interscholastic athletic handbook says indoor track teams can have a "maximum of five meets" in the regular season, followed by postseason competition.

County schools dropped indoor track around 1982 after a rash of injuries, complaints and a shortage of coaches. As time passed and the outdoor and cross country programs continued to win state titles, people began asking about starting indoor again.

"I feel that in the spring we've always gotten a late start on everyone else," Shank said. "Other kids have been in high-level competition in February, and we're not even started yet."

Pub Date: 9/27/98

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