Mix-up trips up Oakland Mills

Track power misses region meet, state spots

May 19, 2000|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The Oakland Mills track team spent yesterday going through the motions of practice, trying to fathom the repercussions of missing the region meet Wednesday.

Oakland Mills track coach Sam Singleton, also the director of the state track committee, said he thought the Class 1A South Region track meet was yesterday. Buses had been ordered to transport his team to Smithsburg in Washington County, site of the meet.

The Scorpions were favored to win easily on their way to another expected state title. They've won six state titles in the past eight years. The sprint-rich Scorpions still may compete in the state meet, but won't be able to enter the 100 meters, 200 and high hurdles.

"Our practices are usually more pumped up," said premier sprinter and 1999 All-Metro Track Performer of the Year Kyle Farmer. "Everyone is kind of down right now."

Farmer, winner of eight gold outdoor medals his freshman and sophomore seasons, including a sweep in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters, won't be running the 100 or 200 at the state meet this year because of the mix-up. He was hoping to break the overall state record in the 200. He set the 200 and 400 Class 1A records last year.

"I'm not mad at my coach," Farmer said. "Everything I've accomplished is because of him. We can't change what has happened."

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association that governs the track championships could have barred completely Oakland Mills from further participation this season.

Instead, the MPSSAA will allow the Scorpions to run today in a 1A meet at Williamsport. But they cannot win a team title or individual ribbons. They will run only for qualifying times for the state meet. Then they will be eligible to win state team and individual titles.

"We struck a balance and allowed them in without hurting anyone else," said Ned Sparks, executive director of the MPSSAA. "They still have hard consequences to pay."

The Scorpions' main penalty is that they cannot compete in the 100, 200 or high hurdles. They had expected to run 1-2-3 in the 100 and 200 and at least place in the hurdles. These events don't have state qualifying times and are the only ones decided by preliminary heats.

The Scorpions cannot compete in these three events today and are therefore ineligible to compete in them at the state meet. This means that Farmer, a junior, will run in three relay events and the 400 meters at the state meet.

"I can still win four state golds and that's my goal," Farmer said.

Another Oakland Mills performer, junior Rachel Clinton, a state indoor champion in the 55-meter hurdles, was almost certain to win the state high hurdles. She had run 14.6 seconds at the Howard County championships, and the winning time at Smithsburg was 16.0. She also competes in the 300 hurdles and two relays.

Singleton, coach since 1992, was distraught about the mix-up.

"The meet director must have called me one day during football season or indoor track season and I just never made the change on my schedule. It was held on a Thursday last season and I thought it was on a Thursday again. I talked to him last Friday, and he said, `See you next week,' without mentioning the day."

The correct date was listed in the MPSSAA spring handbook."But I never looked at it," Singleton said. "The kids are hating life right now. I told them it was my fault, but that if we do well we can still win the state meet. I figure we can score 80 points and that might be enough."

Oakland Mills athletic director Ken Klock defended Singleton. "He won't be the first one to make a mistake, and for all the good he does, I'll take him."

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