`Burners' ignite Wildcats

Indoor track: Four hard-working sprinters who led Arundel's girls to their first county title and took some regional honors could make noise in Tuesday's state meet, too.

February 17, 2000|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

They are talented, hard-working, good friends, and the unquestioned leaders of Arundel's girls track team.

Individually, each brings her own strengths. Collectively, they use those assets to complement each other -- pushing in practice and supporting at meets.

"And they're pretty fast," added coach Ira Queen, referring to his fine group of sprinters.

The sixth-ranked Wildcats ran off with their first Anne Arundel County Indoor Track Championship earlier this month, and their burners -- juniors Eva Tukarski, Nashira Rawls and Roxanne Hall and senior Abria Queen -- were dominating factors.

Now, they are focusing on Tuesday's Class 3A-4A state championships at Baltimore's 5th Regiment Armory, where they should score some points.

The 800-meter relay team, featuring Tukarski, Rawls, Hall and Queen, and the 1,600 relay unit, which has sophomore Casey Russell running instead of Queen, both qualified for states at Monday's region meet.

Additionally, Queen won the region high-jump title, and Tukarski qualified in the 55 hurdles.

"They've helped build Arundel girls track and they love it. Our motto is `Arundel track is back,' and they're the big reason why," said coach Queen, the runner's father.

The prime example came at the county championship, particularly the effort in the 300 that opened the door for the Wildcats. Tukarski, Rawls and Hall took 1-2-3 with the latter, passing Old Mill's Alicia Beard late to complete the trifecta.

"I heard people screaming my name and knew I had more left, so I put everything I had into it," said Hall. "It was really great -- everyone putting in all they have and working so hard to get that far."

Tukarski added a win in the 55 hurdles; Hall and Rawls took 1-2 at 55, and Queen took second in the high jump, all leading to the Wildcats clinching first-place finish in the 1,600 relay.

"We all pretty much take care of each other. We're pretty tight and hang out together, so it's not just a track thing," said Abria Queen, who plays soccer in the fall and softball in the spring.

Maybe that's why each will tell you she enjoys the relays as much as anything -- the opportunity to work together.

Tukarski, a strong, powerful runner, likes the responsibility of the opening leg, where many more times than not she provides a lead.

"I'm stubborn," she said. "I don't let anyone past me."

Queen and Russell usually handle the second leg of their respective relays, with Hall getting the baton next.

"When I get out there, I want to keep the lead and make it bigger or catch anyone who's in front of us," said Hall.

Rawls simply does her job as anchor, whether protecting a lead or taking one.

"We all pray together before the race, and say we're going to be OK," she said. "And when it's all over, we know we've done the best we can, so we're all winners at the end."

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