Owls have new seniors to step up, out

With four runners back, South Carroll shooting for third 3A title in row

September 02, 1999|By RICH SCHERR | RICH SCHERR,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For three-time defending Class 4A state champion Westminster, it appears to be business as usual, even despite the graduation of top runner Jason Santucci, county Runner of the Year last fall.

"Jason brought a lot of leadership and talent to this team, but I think we still have that with other runners," said third-year coach Dave Cox. "We can't replace Jason, but other guys can certainly fill that void."

They include seniors Jesse O'Connell and Josh Davis. O'Connell won county, region and Central Maryland Conference titles at 800 meters last spring. Davis, a top cross-country performer last year, sat out both indoor and outdoor track with injuries and while exploring other interests.

Seniors Tristan Gilbert and Kyle Bates and juniors Kevin Pool and Dominique Cook also will help in the Owls' quest to extend their streak of county titles, which began in the mid-1980s.

Said Cox: "I really have high expectations for this team."

The Owls, however, aren't the county's only defending state champion. South Carroll, which repeated as Class 3A state champions a year ago, returns four of its top seven, including a pair of Sun first-teamers, juniors Bobby Mead and Matt Adami.

The Cavaliers, who finished second in both the county and CMC last season, are deep, with seniors Doug Harmer and Peter Hamlington also expected to make an impact. The team, which came within nine points of beating Westminster in each of their meetings last year, will meet the Owls at least five teams this fall.

Francis Scott Key, third in the county each of the last two years returns seven. The Eagles will be led by senior Colin Russell, fifth in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League after missing six weeks with an injury, and junior Ron Shriver, 10th in the MVAL.

Seniors Matt Gibbes and Matt Barber, and junior Jim Wood round out a strong top five.

Liberty, fourth in the county last fall, may have enough tools to crack the top three. The Lions return 13, overall and five of their top seven, including sophomore Mark Buschman, who as a freshman worked his way from the bottom of the JV to near the top of the varsity within weeks.

"He's really coming into his own, and he's only going to get better," said Lions coach Dan Jones, who also has seniors Justin Gardner, Kevin Taylor and Jason Hammond, and junior Scott Hackett.

"We definitely have the potential and the ability to move up to third," said Jones.

North Carroll also could surprise with returning No. 1 runner Justin Getty, a senior, and an up-and-coming sophomore J. T. Potter, whose summer training paid dividends, his coach said.

In girls competition, Westminster again appears to be the class of the county. The Owls, who won the county, CMC and region a year ago, return two Sun first-team selections, sophomore Tara Callegary and junior Kate Henshaw, as well as another promising junior, Jessica Price. New coach Sarah Ensor said all three have been running neck-and-neck.

Seniors Katy Parsons and Melissa McDonald also should crack the Owls' top five, with a large group of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores behind them.

If the Owls stumble, Liberty may just be laying in wait.

The Lions return four of their top seven girls, including senior Pam Maldeis, their top runner for much of last fall who shrugged off a late-season injury to finish among the top top 15 at the Class 3A state meet and earn first team All-County honors.

Other top performers on the 17-girl team, which featured nine returnees, include senior Diane Pandolfini, senior Erin Surette, sophomore Alexis Grubb and junior Katie Brelsford.

"It's a great mix," said coach Dan Jones.

South Carroll, third in the county and sixth in the region a year ago, also appears to be on track for a strong season with a returning No. 1 in sophomores Lindsey Schwartz and Amy Knapp, and seniors Anne Foreman, Megan Reilly and Kelly Libby.

Track standouts Shannon Farver, a senior, and Megan Sowa, a junior, will try their hands at cross country for the first time.

New North Carroll coach Kourtnay Purcaro has just three returnees to work with, but one of them is 1998 Carroll County Runner of the Year Colleen Lawson. The junior started last season playing soccer but wound up with a four-second victory at the Class 3A state championships to go along with titles at the county, CMC and region meets.

Joining her will be senior Amy Malcolm, junior Sandy Wentzel and nine newcomers.

Francis Scott Key coach Chris Conklin thinks his team could surprise. The Eagles will carry eight runners, several more than usual, including sophomore Erin Kepler, a returning No. 1 who improved her times by five minutes last season. Others include juniors April Wantz, Brandi Wentworth and Karen Moorman, and freshman Kelly Moorman.

Preseason polls

Boys Top 10

Rank ....................School

1. .........................Westminster

2. .........................South Carroll

3. .........................Mount St. Joseph

4. .........................River Hill

5. .........................Calvert Hall

6. .........................Severna Park

7. .........................C. Milton Wright

8. ..........................Loyola

9. ..........................Perry Hall

10. ........................(Tie)Arundel/Broadneck

Girls Top 10

Rank .....................School

1. ..........................Severna Park

2. ..........................Westminster

3. ..........................Dulaney

4. ..........................C. Milton Wright

5. ..........................Broadneck

6. ..........................River Hill

7. ..........................Notre Dame Prep

8. ..........................Perry Hall

9. ..........................Mount de Sales

10. ........................Mount Hebron

Pub Date: 9/02/99

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