The tennis season is only two weeks old in Anne Arundel County, but three teams have emerged from the pack as the early-season leaders.
It's not exactly jaw-dropping to find that Severna Park is one of those three leaders. After all, the Falcons, who are 4-0 overall and in the county, have won the past three county and regional tournament championships under coach April Quigley's guidance.
The programs that have performed beyond expectations are Broadneck and Old Mill, both of which are undefeated in the county.
The Patriots are perhaps the more surprising entry in the race for the county title. With only four returning players with considerable varsity experience from last year's squad, even Old Mill coach Dick Hobbs said he is a little taken aback at his team's 5-0 overall record and 4-0 county mark.
"I expected we would be 2-3 at this point," said Hobbs, who attributes the team's success to the four returners in seniors Karen and Sarah Mostellar, Kathryn Kendall and Chris Fritz. "They have taken this team by the hand and led them. They will not let this team be mediocre."
The Patriots have been powered by their girls squad, which boasts two 5-0 positions at No. 1 singles with Karen Mostellar and at No. 1 doubles with Sarah Mostellar and Kendall.
Broadneck's success has resonated from a renewed focus on fitness as a part of first-year coach Jerry Jellig's approach to tennis. During the six-week preseason, the Bruins ran a few miles and did sprints for about 15 minutes every day.
"No one complained," Jellig said. "No one took a day off. They really were committed to what I was trying to do."
That dedication has paid off in a 4-0 overall and county record for Broadneck. The girls squad has three 4-0 marks with senior Kristen Kibler at No. 1 singles, senior Holly Schaefer at No. 2 singles and senior Jesse Coe and sophomore Maria Depont at No. 2 doubles.
On the boys side, the No. 1 doubles team of senior Todd Basile and junior Blake Foster is 4-0.
Severna Park boasts four undefeated positions with three-time defending county and regional champion and senior Susan Johnson at No. 1 singles, senior Robin Koethcke at No. 2 singles, the team of junior Lindsay Suller and sophomore Allison Daciek at No. 1 doubles and the team of seniors Lindsay Kin and Judy Umberger at No. 2 doubles.
The boys side is equally as strong with perfect records from senior Philip Klarsten, an exchange student from Sweden, at No. 1 singles, the team of seniors Steve Wollentin and Bryan Dickinson at No. 1 doubles, and the team of freshmen Matt Bulkley and Connor Chalmers at No. 2 doubles.
St. Mary's on mend
At the rate the St. Mary's girls lacrosse team is incurring injuries, the Saints may have more wraps than a gourmet deli.
At least four players on the area's eighth-ranked team have wraps or casts around various body parts.
Junior midfielder Lauren Dyer is out for the season with a broken bone in her left foot.
A trio of players are playing despite their injuries. Senior midfielder Jaimee Motley is suffering from shin splints in her right leg, junior defender Kirby Thalenberg has a wrap around her left wrist, and senior midfielder Sheridan Owings has a wrap around her left thigh.
St. Mary's coach Erika Bristow got another scare when senior defender Jen Summers twisted her knee during Monday's 10-6 loss to No. 7 Notre Dame Prep, but the injury apparently will not force Summers to miss any games.
Vogelpohl wants offense
Nicole Vogelpohl has a harsh critic: herself.
The junior for the No. 6 Glen Burnie softball team became the first Gophers pitcher to complete a perfect game since 1989 when she shut out Annapolis in a 10-0 five-inning win Monday. But afterward Vogelpohl could only think about what she hadn't done with her bat.
"I messed up batting," said Vogelpohl, who struck out nine of the 15 batters she faced. "I kept topping it off. So I tried to help out on the field."
The last time a Glen Burnie player pitched a perfect game was 13 years ago when Jenny Parsons did so in the Class 4A state championship final to bring the Gophers their first state crown since 1986.