Fowler adds McCoach to assist

Moving from Mercy, he brings former Calvert Hall coach to Cardinals' cross country staff

Poly tennis teams maintain strong play

Notebook

May 17, 2006|By EDWARD LEE AND LEM SATTERFIELD | EDWARD LEE AND LEM SATTERFIELD,SUN REPORTERS

Randy Fowler is - as he has said himself - "no fool."

So when Fowler, formerly the cross country coach at Mercy, was hired to head the Calvert Hall cross country program beginning next fall, Fowler took a page from the Cardinals' archives and hired Jim McCoach as his assistant.

McCoach was the architect of a Calvert Hall dynasty that captured seven Maryland Scholastic Association and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships in cross country during the 1990s. Most recently, McCoach started the cross country program at Maryvale, where he earned All-Metro Coach of the Year honors in 2001.

McCoach deferred all inquiries to Fowler, who wasn't shy about highlighting his colleague's record of success.

"I learned a long time ago that if you surround yourself with quality people, you will get quality results," he said. "So I thought, `Shoot, why not get a legend on board?' "

Fowler is no slouch himself. He guided Mercy to the school's first cross country title in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland in 2004 and was named The Sun's Baltimore City Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2004.

Fowler, who turned down an offer to coach the Cardinals in 2000, said his interest was rekindled after reading an advertisement for a new coach.

"I wondered if I could have as much success coaching boys as I have coaching girls," said Fowler, who said he cried for 30 minutes after he broke the news of his decision to leave his Mercy team. "I thought, `I don't want to be a 70-year-old in a rocking chair thinking, What if?' "

Calvert Hall hasn't won a cross country championship since 1999 - the last year of McCoach's tenure at the Towson school. Fowler wouldn't go so far as to make a guarantee for the upcoming MIAA season.

"It's a great, great conference with some great coaches and great athletes," he said. "What I will say is that we are going to bring in our system and our old-school mentality. ... We're going to have them ready."

Poly keeps it going

When the season began, there were some who figured Poly's run of tennis dominance had a good chance of being over.

That was the thinking, at least, in the minds of co-coaches Wallace Sifford and Preston Jackson.

But the dedication of senior veterans such as Blair Fleet, and the unexpected rise of three talented freshmen kept the Engineers in charge in Baltimore City.

Fleet captured the crown that eluded her a year ago, and her younger sister, Jamie, also rose to the challenge, as the Engineers won their 11th straight city title on May 4.

"It was supposed to be a rebuilding year," said Jackson, whose program is 129-24 since 1995.

Blair Fleet went 16-0 on the year, raising her four-year record to 56-8. An excellent student, Blair has earned an engineering-based scholarship to Morgan State.

Jamie Fleet teamed with fellow freshman Kirsten Spence to go unbeaten in No. 1 doubles at 16-0.

The Engineers' top boys singles player is another freshman in Joseph Pate. He was unbeaten in 15 matches before placing second behind Marcus Patterson of City College.

Pate, who attended middle school at Gilman of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association until transferring to Poly last fall, Pate is only a third-year tennis player.

"I'm pleased with the way the season went. I didn't really have any expectations going into it," Pate said. "I'm going to continue to practice hard, but I won't change my approach. I never thought of it as that big of a deal going in, [and] didn't place any pressure on myself. That relaxed me."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

lem.satterfield@baltsun.com

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