An inside track on success

Track and field: Oakland Mills junior Nick Fambro has already shown what he can do as a hurdler. Now, he's aiming for the same success in the shot put and discus.

May 21, 1999|By James Giza | James Giza,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

You might say that Nick Fambro doesn't have a one-track mind.

And for that, his coaches and teammates at Oakland Mills couldn't be happier. That's because the rising track star can't seem to decide which event he should focus on.

Not only is Fambro heavily favored to win the 110-meter high hurdles and 300-meter intermediate hurdles at the Class 1A state meet next Friday and Saturday at UMBC for the defending champion Scorpions, but he has shown tremendous promise in the shot put and discus as well. By next year, the muscular junior could claim state gold in all four -- an unprecedented feat.

"He's a unique package," said coach Sam Singleton.

It is indeed rare for an athlete to compete in Fambro's four events and even more uncommon to enjoy the success that he has. The successful thrower is often large and powerful, relying on massive strength to hurl the shot put and the discus. At 6 feet 2, 185 pounds, Fambro looks more like a hurdler, but he has been thoroughly impressive at all four events.

So which event does Fambro prefer?

"I like all four of my events," he answers, sounding perplexed at the question. "They're all fun."

Fambro's future in track appears to be as a hurdler. He has been a terror this season, blazing to top finishes in both the high and intermediate hurdles at the Howard County Championships earlier this month at River Hill. His season-best times of 15.2 seconds in the 110 highs and 41.1 seconds in the 300 intermediates both would have been sufficient to win states last year handily.

On Wednesday at the Class 1A South regional meet at Smithsburg, won by Oakland Mills, Fambro tuned for the states with firsts in both throwing events and the 110 high hurdles. He was edged at the line in the 300 intermediate hurdles by Kyle Dingle of Smithsburg.

"My technique's getting better as I go, and I'm getting faster, too," said Fambro, who finished third in the 55-meter hurdles at this past winter's Class 1A-2A state indoor meet. "Now, I can hit hurdles and still run a pretty good time."

While his results in the hurdles have been far better than his field results, Fambro has unveiled his potential in the latter this season. He hoisted the shot put a personal-best 47 feet Wednesday and has thrown the discus 141 feet; he finished third and sixth, respectively, in the two events at the county championships.

"Nick's going to be one of the top throwers in Howard County next year," said Oakland Mills shot and discus coach Ian Lesikar. "He's already proven that. He's been working really hard, and he's part of a program that's been rich in throwers, so that's rubbed off on him a lot."

Fambro is a key part of an athletic program that has been rich in state championships. In addition to being a member of track title teams last spring and this past winter, he played tight end and defensive end on the Scorpions' state championship football team. Now, a repeat outdoor title and multiple individual titles are possible.

Because of his eclectic talents, Fambro must juggle a practice routine that is unlike anyone else's on the team. Some days he focuses on the shot and the discus, working on technique and lifting weights. Others, he runs with the sprinters. Yet more often than not, he ends up practicing twice as much as any of his teammates on a daily basis. It is a demading schedule that requires intense dedication and concentration -- especially for a student maintaining a 3.71 grade-point average.

"He has to do double practices now because he has to do the sprinters' workout and the shot and discus workout," marvels sophomore teammate Kyle Farmer, defending 1A state champ in the open 100, 200, and 400 meters. "I really give him a lot of credit for that, because he goes from one workout to the other, and it's really hard to balance that. He definitely works really hard at practice."

Nick has drawn inspiration and motivation from the unfortunate events that befell his older brother -- Mike, now at Bowie State -- at last year's outdoor state championships. Like Nick, Mike appeared poised for victory in both hurdle events. But he never crossed the line in either. He false started and was subsequently disqualified in the trials of the 110 highs and fell at about the fifth or sixth hurdle in the final of the 300 intermediates after jumping out to a substantial lead.

"He didn't get to do it, and I know he could have," Nick said of his brother, who still frequently comes to Oakland Mills to train with him, "so I'm going to do it for him."

Whether or not he does isn't a big issue with the Scorpions. As the season ends, the team is well aware of one overriding fact.

"The thing that's really exciting for this school," said senior co-captain Tommy Brown, "is that he's only a junior. So he'll be back next year."

Four state titles could be waiting for him.

Pub Date: 5/21/99

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