River Hill girls, Oak. Mills boys seem in lead for county titles

Indoor track

High Schools

January 16, 2004|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

To Alonzo Ruffin, River Hill's girls indoor track and field co-coach, 85 could equal one.

That's not some sort of new math. Rather, Ruffin and co-coach Sherah Ewusiak estimate that their Hawks could walk away with the school's first Ivan Walker Howard County title if they compile at least 85 points at the championship meet at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover.

Among boys teams in the competition, No. 5 Oakland Mills seems favored to regain the top spot it so often has captured in recent years.

No. 8 River Hill is the odds-on favorite in girls competition, given that it hasn't lost to a county rival this season. Still, Ruffin said he's concerned about the pressure.

"It's going to be tough because the girls have never been at that level," he said, adding that he has asked the athletes to leave their books at home for one day. "I'm not sure they know how to win a championship yet."

Led by sophomore Tish Carter, defending county high jump champion, and by senior Anne Cunningham, reigning county 3,200-meter titlist, the Hawks also boast senior sprinter Kandace Ramseur and senior shot-putter Cynthea Tossie.

Ruffin said he was heartened by the team's four-point loss to No. 1 Broadneck at an Anne Arundel-Howard County challenge 10 days ago.

"The team was upset about it," Ruffin said.

Two opponents could block River Hill's path to glory. Glenelg, which has captured three county crowns in the past eight seasons, including one during the 2001-2002 campaign -- has junior Mallory Heinke, a defending 1,600-meter champ.

Contributions from senior Chelsea Kapp, a middle-distance runner, and senior Brandy McReynolds, a pole-vaulter, should keep the Gladiators in the mix.

Perhaps the most startling contender is Reservoir. Coach Sam Singleton, the architect of Oakland Mills' indoor track reign between 2000 and 2002, has built a strong foundation led by junior high jumper Brianne Hoe and Meredith Ely, a junior middle-distance runner.

Senior Darya Fakory, the reigning 800-meter county titlist, will likely pace Mount Hebron, which swept the boys and girls championships last season.

Singleton's former team, No. 5 Oakland Mills, appears to be in line to regain its foothold in the boys division.

Senior Tony Cole collected four gold medals last season, and the maturation of juniors Karlton McCullough and Michael Sweatt could push the Scorpions to their fourth crown in five years.

The most obvious blockade comes from Glenelg, which returns two reigning county champions, senior Drew Graybeal (500 meters) and senior Dan Sagmiller (55-meter hurdles).

A sleeper could be Centennial, which will need inspired efforts from junior Jesse Rohwer in the long-distance events and junior James Oleinik in the shot put.

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