Westminster's Estes keeps vaulters on top

Scheffel, Stone benefit from `student of event'


High School

February 22, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

To most track insiders, it came as little surprise that Westminster placed two pole-vaulters among the top five at Monday's Class 4A-3A state meet in Landover.

Since joining the Owls staff two years ago, former Woodlawn coach Dick Estes has made a habit of turning young, raw athletes into pole-vaulting standouts.

"If a Carroll County person does well in the pole vault, he's got a lot to do with it," Westminster coach Jim Shank said. "He films kids literally every day, then takes it home and analyzes it. He's just a real student of the event."

After retiring from Woodlawn, Estes, a Sykesville resident, began working with Westminster's vaulters in 2000. He's also been the primary influence behind the emergence of North Carroll sophomore Lindsay Winter, who cleared 10 feet to place second at the Class 3A-2A state meet after winning a county championship, and has spent time working with the team at Western Maryland College.

Estes competed in the pole vault during his younger days, and has attended numerous clinics that focus on the technical aspects of the event.

His hard work paid off during this year's postseason, as Westminster got big production from two former sprinters who had never competed in the event prior to January.

Junior Mike Scheffel, vaulting in only his third meet, cleared 11 feet, 6 inches to place fifth in the state, behind teammate Clint Stone (fourth, 12-6), a veteran of the event. A week earlier at the 4A-3A, Central regional, junior Wyatt Hall, competing in only his second meet, cleared 11 feet to place fifth.

Shank said Estes is always on the lookout for new talent in the event.

"He's always got his eye open. ... `How about that kid? How about that kid?'" Shank said. "Anywhere where there's a track meet or a track practice, he'll be around."

Tough playoff matchups

For at least two local teams, there will be few surprises in the opening round of the state basketball playoffs.

The North Carroll and South Carroll girls teams, which already have met twice this season, will meet once again in tonight's Class 3A, West opener in Hampstead.

"We were both kind of hoping we'd get to see somebody else," South Carroll coach Steve Luette said.

The Cavaliers (8-14) have edged the Panthers (7-15) in both meetings, pulling away in the fourth quarter each time.

"We're going to make some adjustments," Luette said. "We've watched some films of them and basically tried to break down how they've stayed tight with us. We're going to look a little bit different in this game."

The winner will face Paint Branch, a Montgomery County team that has made a habit of knocking the Cavaliers out of the playoffs.

Westminster looks to have an equally tough road ahead.

Following a first-round bye, the Owls (15-7) most likely will travel to Glen Burnie, a team that opened the season ranked No. 9 in the area but struggled with injuries and inconsistency, for next week's Class 4A, East second round.

Westminster's Dick Ebersole will get his first look at the Gophers when they face struggling North County in tonight's opener.

"I've never been in favor of the way they do this draw," said Ebersole, bothered by the fact that his fourth-seeded team will likely open the playoffs against a tough squad on the road. "If they get to come home and play us on their home turf, then what's the advantage of us having a bye? What's the reward for having a good season?"

Ebersole said he'd much rather have his squad face a weak team on the road in the opener, then return home - where the Owls haven't lost in nearly two seasons - for the tougher second round.

Westminster, which has won seven of its past eight games, claimed the county championship last Friday by virtue of its win over South Carroll and Liberty's loss to North Carroll.

"I think we're peaking at the right time," Ebersole said.

For the South Carroll boys team, the challenge will be slightly different.

The top-seeded Cavaliers (17-5), who will face either Northwest or Seneca Valley following a first-round bye, will be trying to bounce back after a season-ending 92-50 loss to powerful Thomas Johnson.

They are considered one of the favorites to win the 3A, West region.

Westminster (12-10), meanwhile, will face a stiff challenge of its own when it travels to Arundel tonight in Class 4A, East action.

"The biggest thing that I told our kids is that going to Anne Arundel County it's a different game," Owls coach Dave Herman said. "It's very physical and very athletic. I think the main key, more than any Xs and Os, is that we have to match their intensity. We can't go down and be shocked by how fast they play."

If the Owls get past Arundel, they would face second-seeded Meade on Tuesday at Westminster, where they traditionally have been a tough out.

Off to college

Ed Ashwell, a first-team All-County third baseman from Westminster, has verbally committed to Virginia Tech.

Last spring, Ashwell batted .378 with four doubles, a triple, a home run and 14 RBIs. Though hobbled by a sore shoulder, he also scored a key pitching win against eventual county champion Liberty.

And Russell Portney, who helped lead North Carroll to a county title in lacrosse, has signed with UMBC.

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