UMBC's Pfrogner chooses retirement track

Over 29 years, he taught, coached, oversaw growth of running program

State notebook

Colleges

September 21, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

After this fall, someone else will have to be the best athlete in the UMBC athletic department.

Jim Pfrogner, a star quarterback and high jumper, avid tennis player, golf and duck-pin bowling teacher and supervisor of the school's men's running programs for the last 29 years, will retire when the cross country season ends in early November.

He plans to head to South Carolina with his wife, Anne, also an employee at UMBC. He will pursue golf, a sport in which he won the Maryland state senior championship in 1998.

"It's been a fantasy of mine to get involved with that," Pfrogner said. "I will be able to retire fairly comfortably, though I'll have to work a little bit."

Pfrogner informed UMBC athletic director Charles Brown of his intention at the end of the 1998 track season. His decision came after driving his team to Boston twice in three weeks by van.

"I'd been doing this for quite sometime, and ... everything hit me like a brick," he said. "Sometimes you know when it's not quite as fun as it used to be."

Brown, who installed one of UMBC's former standouts - David Bobb - as track coach last season, lauded Pfrogner's contributions to the athletic department and his help in getting the school's track facility built.

"It's been a pleasure working with him," Brown said. "Student athletes got the most working with him, and he got results."

With his team off for two weeks heading into Saturday's Mount St. Mary's Invitational, Pfrogner was relaxed after teaching a recent morning golf class, savoring his final days.

"It's not tough at all," he said, citing his team's pair of top-two finishes to start the season. "Right now I'm really enjoying it because I have a pretty good cross country team."

Pfrogner says the team could be the best in the last 15 years, which would cover about half of a tenure that began when he left a high school coaching and teaching job in Somerset, Pa., to go to "this young school that was interested in me."

UMBC went from training its track athletes at Catonsville Community College to having one of the best track facilities in the region. Recently, the program has been able to give out scholarships to athletes such as Bobb, who nearly won the NCAA's 100-meter dash several years ago.

"I'm really proud of the way this program has progressed," Pfrogner said. "It's never been like going to work in the morning for me ... It's always been a fun thing."

Early showdown

One of the best games of the season involving local teams could happen Saturday when Division III Western Maryland (2-1) visits Ursinus (2-0) at 1 p.m. in its Centennial Conference football opener. Western Maryland has won 22 league games in a row, and both teams made the NCAA playoffs last year.

Johns Hopkins' win last weekend marked the 40th Centennial Conference victory for football coach Jim Margraff. He became the third Centennial coach to reach that milestone.

Zach Baylin and Scott Martorana of Hopkins lead the Centennial Conference in receptions (9.5 a game) and rushing yardage (113.5 yards a game), respectively. Western Maryland's Teron Powell leads the league in kickoff returns at 38.2 yards a return.

The Frostburg State football team has lost its opening two games for the first time since 1983. The road won't get easier for the Bobcats under first-year coach Ruben Stevenson, with Atlantic Central Football Conference leader Methodist as the next opponent.

Salisbury State is 1-2, but the team has established the running game. Tony Ellis is averaging 111.7 yards per game, and Reggie Boyce is averaging 86.7 for the Sea Gulls, who are host to Greensboro this weekend in a game where admission will be free in honor of the school's 75th anniversary.

The expectation entering this season was that Towson's defense would have to do the heavy lifting because the offense was untested at running back and quarterback.

As expected, the defense is doing its heavy lifting and hasn't allowed a touchdown in the second half of any game this season. But the offense is also averaging 36 points per game, led by Noah Read and Kris Blake. Read, who ran for 152 yards in a win over Morgan State, is averaging 130 rushing yards a game. Blake struggled at times last weekend, but has thrown six touchdown passes this season.

Miscellaneous

Maryland's field-hockey team puts its 29-game win streak and No. 1 ranking on the line against No. 7 Wake Forest at 1 p.m. Saturday at College Park ... The Salisbury State women's soccer team is off to a 7-0 start. The Sea Gulls are ranked fourth in the mid-Atlantic regional rankings.

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