Runners gather to meet and compete

Harford Invitational is `like a community'


September 24, 2006|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Reporter

What made 500 high school cross country runners from 23 schools come together nine days ago at Tollgate Park in Bel Air on a damp dreary Friday to run in the Harford Invitational?

"Probably the most surprising thing an outsider wouldn't get is how much almost like a community this event is," said meet director Donnie Mickey. "The kids support each other, the teams support each other, they socialize, and the coaches talk to each other. It's a very competitive atmosphere, but at the same time it's very friendly."

Mickey said he has been organizing this three-mile race for 11 years to showcase the top runners in Harford County.

The veteran meet director said what makes Tollgate Park "unique is that it is very, very spectator-friendly. You only lose sight of the runners for a short time on the flat course."

The John Carroll girls and Loyola boys walked off with first-place trophies, with John Carroll upsetting the favored C. Milton Wright girls and Loyola winning as expected.

One fewer game

No. 13 North Harford won't be making up last week's canceled game with North East-Cecil, and the Hawks will finish the season with nine games played instead of 10.

The game had been scheduled for last Friday, but a North East student was killed and four others injured in a car accident the previous day. School officials canceled activities for the next few days. Officials from both schools conferred and talked with officials from the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and agreed that canceling the game was the right decision because a makeup date isn't available.

The question is whether playing one fewer game will affect the Hawks' playoff chances because football teams qualify for the playoffs on a points system. North Harford made the playoffs last year for the first time in 32 years.

New challenge

New Edgewood boys basketball coach Lamont Pennick, 36, spent eight years as an assistant basketball coach at Morgan State, hoping that some day he would become the head coach and fulfill his dream of "having my own program."

It never happened, and now he has a major rebuilding job at a high school that has lost 12 seniors off last year's team.

Pennick's two major tasks center around instilling discipline and teaching the Rams "the right way to play basketball."

Pennick insisted that everything his team does will be high intensity "every day."

"I'm going to have a whole new group of kids," Pennick said. "That's what excites me. It's going to be a young team. Everybody's going to be new. I'm new. If they take on my personality as a coach, and understand my philosophy as a coach, everything's going to be fine."

Fast start

Outside hitters Jessica Schisler and Megan Pillar have been superb in the first five volleyball games matches for Harford Christian this season, leading the team to a 5-0 start.

Also having strong seasons for the unbeaten team are middle hitters Jaime Schaller and Katie Mahaffey, along with setters Jen Shellem and Alex Lating.

"Our passing has been strong and we're playing solid volleyball," Harford Christian coach Justin Cross said.

Jeff Seidel contributed to this article.

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