When the Oakland Mills High School track coach didn't show up in Washington County on Wednesday for the pre-meet coaches conference, meet director Buddy Orndorff waited on him for 15 minutes.
When the team didn't show up for the start of the Class 1A South Region meet in Smithsburg, Orndorff called the state police to see if the buses carrying the team had been caught in traffic or had an accident.
Officials delayed the start of the meet for nearly two hours, but the Scorpions never arrived.
Oakland Mills Coach Sam Singleton thought the meet was Thursday.
"I was sick Wednesday night when it was evident that they weren't going to be here," said Orndorff, of Smithsburg High School, which won the meet. "It's a shame because [the coach] is such a nice guy. They are a great, great program. Everybody knows that they were the best team."
The Oakland Mills track team, which has won six state championships in the past eight years and was a favorite to capture another, tried Friday to recover from their coach's oversight.
Because of the mix-up, the Scorpions could have been barred from participating in events for the rest of the season. But Ned Sparks, executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, allowed the team to compete in the 1A West Region meet in Williamsport, Washington County.
"The obvious emotions are disappointment that everybody has -- that we all have," said Marshall Peterson, the principal at Oakland Mills.
"They certainly were in good shape to do real well," Peterson said of the missed meet, which the Scorpions had been expected to win easily. "We can just hope that they all do as well as they possibly can" in Williamsport.
The mother of team member Grant Regelin, who participates in the pole vault, was surprised when her son came home Thursday at his usual time.
"I asked him, `I thought you were going to the meet today,' " said Gale Regelin. "He just kind of laughed and said, `The coach forgot.' "
Regelin said Grant, a sophomore, was "very disappointed" and "kind of exasperated as to how a coach could forget -- that that could happen."
"I feel badly for the kids," she said. "I'm not angry; it's a sport. I'm sure that it's something that's really more significant to people who are seniors who are maybe dependent on track or something to help them get into college. I could see where that would make you angry."
One of the seniors on the team, Nick Fambro, said yesterday that he did not believe the coach deserved blame for the mix-up. Fambro, who runs the 110-meter high hurdles and 300-meter hurdles in addition to throwing the shot put and discus, said the team had relied on posters that carried the incorrect date for the meet.
"We never thought to question it," Fambro said. "I was kind of shocked."
At Friday's meet, the team was not permitted to compete in the 100 meters, 200 meters and high hurdles -- meaning it won't participate in those events in the state championship. The team was competing only for qualifying times, rather than a team title or individual ribbons.
Track star Kyle Farmer, the 1999 All-Metro Track Performer of the Year, was hoping to break the state record in the 200 this year. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, he won eight outdoor medals, including a sweep in the 100, 200 and 400.
The state championships will be held May 26 and 27 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Favored to win
Singleton, who serves as director of the State Track and Field Tournament Committee, told the team that the mix-up was his fault and that the school might still be able to win the state title.
Orndorff favors them to do just that.
"It might be more competitive than last year," he said. But "they're my favorite. I'm having a hard time not picking them now."
Sun staff writer Mark Ribbing contributed to this article.