Surprising Fallston girls win state title

No. 4 Cougars edge Mervo

Westlake boys take crown

Class 3A-2A track and field

High Schools

February 22, 2005|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LANDOVER -- Fallston coach Dave Fender stood in the corner of the track at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex with about two hours left in the Class 3A-2A state championship meet and furiously scribbled numbers and drew up possibilities that even he couldn't believe.

Fender and distance coach Jimmy Grant looked at numerous scenarios and kept shaking their heads and grinning in disbelief. But the disbelief turned into reality a little later when No. 4 Fallston finished the improbable upset by edging No. 5 Mervo for the girls state crown yesterday.

Fallston faced every possible hurdle in becoming a state champion.

Harford County doesn't recognize indoor track as a sport, so the Cougars had to do everything on their own, from paying fees to providing transportation to getting coaches on a volunteer basis. The Cougars can't even officially give out varsity letters.

In addition, Fallston had never won a state title in track and field and had only 11 girls on the team. But the Cougars used the talents of Alyssa Evering, Emily Saltsman, Anna Erickson and others to roll up 46 points -- edging Mervo (38) -- and got to shriek in disbelief and take a victory lap carrying the championship trophy.

Fallston caught the attention of many last week when it won the Class 3A-2A West region title. The Cougars just kept on rolling in this meet, taking an early lead and hanging on.

"This has been such a fabulous season," Fender said. "For essentially a handful of kids to get together and do all of this is phenomenal."

Said Grant: "The right group of people came together at the right time. It's almost like we caught lightning in a bottle."

The points came from several good performances. Evering won the 300 meters in 40.80 seconds and took fourth in the 55-meter dash. Saltsman, Erickson, McKenzie Hall and Amanda Kucharczyk combined to win the 3,200 relay in 9:54.41. Saltsman won the 800 (2:25.42) while Erickson took second in the 1,600 and fifth in the 800.

The Cougars all came through at the right time.

"I don't think that people expected us [to win]," said Saltsman, a senior who will run at UMBC next year. "We supported each other, and we calmed each other down."

Evering is headed to Connecticut next year and said getting so many points from so many places proved crucial to winning the region and state titles.

"I think there's not pressure on any individual," she said. "Everyone contributed for us."

The Mervo girls came closest to Fallston, getting second-place finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays plus strong efforts from Quantikia Stepney (second in the 800, third in the 500) and Kitria Stewart (second in the 500).

The Mervo boys, also ranked fifth, came up short in trying to defend a state title. Westlake easily won the championship with 50 points, far ahead of Mount Hebron (32) and No. 10 Centennial (30).

Southern took fourth with 26 points, and North Carroll (24) tied LaPlata for fifth place. Mervo's boys finished seventh with 22 points.

Jason Allen helped Mount Hebron stay near the top early by winning the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches) and taking second in the 300. Other local winners were: Centennial's Brian Harvey (1,600, 4:28.55) and Stephen Hendrix (pole vault, 12-0) and Southern's 3,200 relay team (8:28.62).

North Carroll's Tim Wunderlich showed his versatility by taking second in the high jump plus third in both the pole vault and shot put to score 20 of his team's points. For the girls, other local winners were: Janay Woolridge of Long Reach (55 hurdles, 8.48), Mount Hebron's Lauren McClenney (500, 1:18.58), Towson's Lauren Capone (3,200, 11:33.39) and Amanda Zeller from North Harford (pole vault, 8-6).

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