Howard County indoor track preview

December 08, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Wilde Lake's boys and Long Reach's girls earned their first county indoor track titles last season. Don't be surprised if they win their second championships this season.

"I don't look for us to be as dominant as we were last year, but we're going to be real good," said Wilde Lake boys coach Charlie Shoemaker, whose team last season won the 2A-3A West regional and finished second in the Class 2A-3A state meet. "We have very good quality points, and we're fairly well-balanced. It's a very disciplined, dedicated team."

Wilde Lake won last season's Ivan Walker indoor county championship by 37 points over second-place Oakland Mills. Shoemaker expects this season's championship to be closer.

"I think it will be pretty tight. I think you'll see a closer score then last year," Shoemaker said.

River Hill, with its strong distance contingent, and Oakland Mills, led by Kyle Famer, are among the top boys' teams.

"We can be competitive in all events," said first-year River Hill coach Todd Wright. "We're very focused as a team, and that's nice to see."

Oakland Mills finished second in the county and second in both the Class 1A-2A Central regional and state meets. The Scorpions will be competitive again. "We're going to be very good in the regionals and states," said Oakland Mills boys coach Sam Singleton.

Atholton's boys team won the Class 1A-2A Central region and state meets last season, but graduation has hurt the Raiders' chances this season.

The top three girls' teams look to be Long Reach, River Hill and Glenelg.

"I think we'll be in it, but Long Reach and River Hill have to be considered favorites," said Glenelg girls coach Mike Selmer. "I hope we're close to them, and pushing them."

Long Reach's girls team won last season's county meet by 41 points over second-place Atholton. Thema Napier has graduated, but Teyarnte Carter returns to lead another strong Lightning team.

Long Reach's Joe Thomas, in his 10th season, is coaching indoors for the first time. He has won four outdoor county titles (three at Howard, one at Long Reach) and three outdoor state championships (two at Howard, one at Long Reach).

Thomas believes his team can repeat as county champions. "I have all the confidence in the word in my girls," Thomas said. "I truly believe they can."

River Hill coach Norm Belden has a good team also, led by sophomore distance runner Lee McDuff.

"We'll be a strong team," Belden said. "We're more balanced then we've ever been, and the girls have a strong work ethic."

Oakland Mills won the Class 1A-2A state championship last year, and coach Bryan Winfield said: "We're very young. We hope to do better as the season goes along. We'll do our best to defend our state title, but we'll have to continue to develop as a team. I'm optimistic."

Winfield also said that competing in such a competitive county will serve the Scorpions well when it comes to the regional and state meets. "I think our county will get us prepared for any competition after that."

Here is a look at all the teams:

Atholton

Girls coach Eddie Ivory calls senior Michelle Nelson "one of the top five sprinters in the state." Nelson will run the 55, 300 and the 800 and 1,600 relays. Sophomore Ashley Wall was fourth in the county in the high jump, and was a part of the 800 relay team that won county, regional and state titles. Senior Becky Peterson returns in the pole vault, and senior shot putter Amy Bejm is joined by her freshman sister, Jessica, who will do a little bit of everything (55, 500, relays and pole vault).

"We're a deep team," Ivory said. "The girls are very excited about this year because they think they'll have a chance in every meet. And that's the only way to look at it."

Christa Zitko takes over the boys team, led by state indoor and outdoor pole vault champion Tony Pesce. Junior Steven Miller, freshman Andrew Breen and sophomore Dennis Cook are the top distance runners, and senior Pat Snyder will throw the shot put.

Centennial

Sam Yurko takes over the boys team, and he said the Eagles "look pretty strong in the longer sprints and shorter distances." Leading the way will be junior Randy Van Allen (500, 800, mile relay), senior Matt Tinnirella (800, 1,600, mile relay), junior Shawn Spencer (800, 1,600, 3,200) and sophomore Collin Stumpf (300, 500, mile relay). Senior Tom Fisher will throw the shot put. Tinnirella and Fisher are captains.

Girls coach Carrie Brunskill is optimistic as she begins her third year. "I'm impressed with everyone I have," Brunskill said. "I'm excited." Junior Lori Fritz will compete in the 300 and 500, sophomore Marie Kilroy in the 1,600 and senior Amanda Kinsley in the pole vault. Two freshmen sprinters have looked good -- Julie Richter and Samantha Test.

Glenelg

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