Carroll County indoor track preview All five public schools are fielding programs for first time since '80s

December 08, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Indoor track is back in Carroll County.

For the first time since the early 1980's, all five of the public schools will field teams in indoor track and field. Westminster had boys and girls teams last year, but the remainder of the county will join in this winter.

Indoor track stopped around 1982 following concerns about injuries and other problems like a shortage of coaches. The area schools still won't compete as much as other counties, likely being limited to about five regular-season meets plus region and state championships.

There will not be a Carroll County championship meet this season, but the teams are set to compete in conference championships. Liberty, North Carroll, South Carroll and Westminster are planning to run in the Central Maryland Conference meet while Francis Scott Key will be in the Monocacy Valley Athletic Conference championship meet.

All of the county coaches agree that having an indoor track and field program will strengthen everyone's outdoor programs. Without an indoor program, the county athletes usually spent a good part of the outdoor season getting into good shape -- instead of simply being ready to compete.

"I hope it ultimately puts us up to a level of training that's equal to that of our competition," said Francis Scott Key coach Rich Salkin.

Westminster

Westminster will have somewhat of an advantage as the Owls fielded a team for a large part of the last winter. Coach Jim Shank was the driving force in getting indoor track started again, and the Owls have responded. Sixty boys, for example, came out for the winter team.

The Owls will, of course, have lots of talent in the distance area. Having just won their third straight Class 4A state title, the Owls will benefit from the talents of two-time All-Metro Runner of the Year Jason Santucci. First-team All-Metro pick Jesse O'Connell (junior) and classmate Tristan Gilbert will be among those who'll help the distance team.

Junior Jared Craig was one of the county's top hurdlers in outdoor track last spring, and he returns this winter. Sophomore Jamel Smalls should help in the sprints with senior Ifeyani Ani scoring points in the jumps and relays, like last spring.

For girls, the distance team also should help lead the way. Seniors Holly Thompson and Beth Vigliotti give the Owls a strong base there. Westminster also should get plenty of points in the throwing events, led by juniors Kiara Adams and Emily and Jessica Hester.

Senior Becky Kuchera was fifth last year in the state indoor meet in the high jump, and Shank is hopeful that she'll score points.

South Carroll

South Carroll is the other state champion from cross country that should use some of that talent in indoor track. The Cavaliers, who looked even better this season in winning their second straight Class 3A state boys title, will have several members of that team helping coach Rob Pennington.

Sophomores Bobby Mead and Matt Adami, plus senior Steve Hammel, should help the Cavaliers score plenty of points this season. Mead became the team's No. 1 runner this fall and, despite missing the region meet with a groin pull, battled through the pain to run well in the state meet.

Hammel and Adami both were consistent again throughout the season, just like last year when they helped South Carroll win the 1997 cross country state title. In fact, Hammel stepped up even more when Mead went down, while Adami did the same.

For the girls, the athletes are still coming out and since Pennington was out last week, he's still getting an idea of who's there. One runner he's delighted to see is freshman Lyndsay Schwartz, who ran strong throughout the recent cross country season and should be one of the county's best distance runners throughout her career.

Like most other Carroll schools, the Cavaliers just began practice last week, about two weeks later than other areas.

Sprinting will cause both the boys and girls problems this winter, however, as the Cavaliers are in a different class than cross country -- Class 2A-3A -- and should meet some very good teams in that area from Baltimore County like Woodlawn, Milford Mill and others.

Pennington has long believed that an indoor track program will only benefit area programs, something he hopes to see shortly.

"It will make our outdoor season more competitive," said Pennington. "That's what I'm using indoor track for. Now we'll be on an even keel with other schools from the start. Usually we're six weeks behind because [there was no indoor track]."

North Carroll

North Carroll coaches Jim MacDonald and Angie Jones will have talent at several places on the boys and girls teams. Leading the girls will be All-Metro Runner of the Year Colleen Lawson, who turned in a memorable season this fall, winning the conference, county, region and state titles.

Cross country teammate Sarah Foor-Hogue, a senior, also will help with the distance events. Sophomore Jen Lee should score points in the short distance and high jump while Katie Riley also could help in the short distances.

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