Conditioning plan yields track star

Westminster's Paige excelling at jump events in first, last year of sport

County notebook

April 14, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Senior Fred Paige joined Westminster's track and field team this spring simply looking to stay in shape for what he hopes will be a college football career.

After just three meets, however, the 17-year-old has turned into the discovery of the year in local track circles.

Paige won both the long jump and triple jump at the recent 12-team Carroll Invitational at Century, helping Westminster to a team victory over Mount Hebron and Bowling Brook.

His distance in the long jump of 21 feet, 1/2 -inch would have won a county title - by 14 inches - last spring, making him a threat to score (finish among the top six) at next month's Class 4A state meet. His triple-jump distance of 40 feet, 5 inches would have made him county runner-up.

"The first time we sent him down the runway into he pit, we knew he could be a good jumper," said Westminster coach Jim Shank, who first met Paige the day he showed up for tryouts. "Initially it was, `I'm not sure I want to do this. I just want to try it.' Now that he's had some success, he's working pretty hard at it. He has a lot of potential to improve."

Paige, a cornerback and receiver who hopes to continue his football career at either Liberty University or Howard University, said track originally was an afterthought.

"I'd been thinking about it for a while as a way to get in shape for college next year," Paige said. "I thought I wanted to be a sprinter, but then everybody was telling me I was so good at jumps that I should work out more with jumpers. [Success] has caught me by surprise."

Shank said they pegged Paige as a jumper after two or three days of testing.

"We ran him in a distance event. We ran him in a sprint event. We took a look at him in hurdles, and we did some standing long jumps and things like that," Shank said. "Right away, speed-wise and spring-wise, he was very good, so the long and triple jumps were naturals."

In his first meet, Paige won the long and triple jump in a dual meet at Thomas Johnson.

Now, Paige's only regret is that he didn't try the sport sooner.

"I didn't know I was going to have a chance to be this good," he said.

Dolch looks forward

For Dave Dolch, it was an offer too good to refuse.

Dolch, who was head football coach at Francis Scott Key last season, announced recently he will leave to take the same position at St. Paul's, an elite private school in Baltimore County with an impressive football history .

With Key expected to name its new coach early this week, the former Bowie State coach is hoping to pass the Eagles' reigns to a member of his staff.

"I learned at a young coaching age that success without a successor is failure," said Dolch, 46. "I really believe that having a successor to the program is extremely important."

Dolch, in fact, says he's most proud that two former proteges are now head coaches: former Bowie State graduate assistant Sherman Wood at Salisbury University and ex-Bowie quarterback Henry Frazier (Bowie State).

"I feel pretty good about that," Dolch said. "I look at that as part of my job - to help groom young people who want to pursue a career in coaching."

For Dolch, who accepted the St. Paul's job on April 3, a career change proved to be an especially tough decision.

Though Dolch admitted that compensation was a factor, he said he also is making the move for two other reasons - a position as a half-time teacher and half-time college counselor, as well as a commitment by St. Paul's to fully support the program as it possibly makes the jump to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference in 2003.

"When you make a move like this, you're either moving toward something or away from something," Dolch said. "In this case, I was moving toward something that I thought would be a better situation for my family and me. What really made it difficult is that I really like the people here. [Principal] Randy Clark and [athletic director] Leo Totten have been great to work with, and the bottom line is I really like the kids.

"It would've been an easy decision if I didn't have a job that I felt good about."

St. Paul's, which had a winning record under coaches Mitch Tullai and Brian Abbott, finished 4-5 last season, last winning the B Conference in 1996.

Dolch, is no stranger to the MIAA, having spent the 1999 season as an assistant at McDonogh, where his son, Scott, was a three-sport standout.

Finding a home

After years of playing all of its games off campus, the Carroll Christian baseball team finally has a field to call home.

The Patriots played their first game at the new facility, located on grounds behind the Westminster school, on Friday.

Previously, a home game meant dismissing players at 1:30 - the middle of the next-to-last period - since the field the team was using, about two miles from the school, had to be vacated by 5.

Now, there are no such worries.

"It's really meant a lot," said Michael Cole, athletic director. "Now, we can be like any other school. When we have a home game, we just go right out our back door and there it is."

With original estimates of at least $25,000-$30,000, it took a group of a dozen parents and members of the school's related Church of the Open Door to make the project happen.

The volunteer brigade, which included people with landscaping equipment, did everything from leveling the field, to erecting fences, to cutting out the infield, to building the mound.

"We didn't have the money to put that much into a field," Cole said. "These guys gave their own time and brought their own equipment in. That's how we could do it."

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