The Kangaroo Kids, the county's competitive jump-rope organization, and the Howard County Junior Striders, a running club, brought home an array of national titles from last weekend's Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics in Hampton Roads, Va.
Jimmy McCleary, whose father is Kangaroo Kids' head coach Jim McCleary, maintained his record of never losing his event since jump rope became an AAU sport in 1995. He has seven gold medals in single-rope competition.
And Robby Moylan was elected top male jumper overall, putting up the most points of all males at the competition. McCleary took the same title in 1997, and Amanda Ramsey, another Kangaroo Kid, won the girls' top prize in 1999.
The Kids won three gold, five silver and five bronze medals this year. They took the senior team show competition for 12-and-up jumpers for the second year in a row and also won the junior-team show competition for 11-and- under year-olds.
In track, a new Junior Striders program for high school runners produced a national junior-championship relay team consisting of runners from three local high schools.
The four runners - Izudin Mehmedovic of Oakland Mills High, Jason Moore and Greg James of Wilde Lake High and anchorman Shane Stroup of River Hill - won the 3,200-meter relay. Glenelg's John Goldsmith, who didn't compete, was the team's alternate. All except James, who will enter Morgan State University shortly, will be seniors this fall.
A distance runner, James Mullaly, a Mount Hebron senior, also medaled for the Junior Striders, taking fifth in the 3,000-meter run. Medals went to the top eight finishers.
"I've had a smile on my face for a week now," said coach Phil Lang, who with longtime friend Greg McVie, a former Wilde Lake assistant coach, put together the summer track program for high schoolers that attracted 60 participants representing all 10 county public high schools.
"This county had some excellent runners this year. ... We've always wondered why there isn't a chance for kids to train and compete over the summer, so we put together this program," Lang said.
The relay squad won Maryland and regional titles in the same event, also referred to as the 4x800 relay, posting the best time in Maryland all year in the event at regionals and then shattering that mark by 4.5 seconds in the title race, Lang said.
The championship event was "really competitive," said the Columbia coach, who heads Oakland Mill's varsity cross country program. "With less than a lap to go, five teams were within arm's length. And then Shane [Stroup], who really has amazing kick, pulled away from the rest."
The countians won by three seconds, finishing in 7 minutes, 49.49 seconds, about 7.5 seconds shy of the meet record, Lang said.