Performer of the Year: Shane Stroup, River Hill
It's scary to think that Stroup is only a junior. Already, he's by far the metro area's most dominant runner. At the Howard County championships, Stroup earned honors as the meet's "Iron Man" for posting victories in the 800 (1:52.6) and 1,600 (4:13.3), as well as running legs on the Hawks' winning 3,200 relay team (8:03.3) and second-place 1,600 relay team.
He set a county record in the 800 and shattered a meet record in the 1,600. Dominating at the county level, however, was the least of his accomplishments. After winning gold medals in the 800, 1,600 and 1,600 relay at the Class 3A, East regional, Stroup set his sights on Maryland's 27-year-old state record in the 1,600, which he hoped to break at the Class 3A state meet.
In a season where it seemed as if nothing could slow him down, however, heavy rains at the state meet finally did, forcing him to abort plans to shoot for the record. Instead, he settled for a Class 3A record in the event, running a personal-best 4:12.03 - at the time one of the top-10 times in the nation this season - also easily capturing the 800 (1:52.3) and anchoring River Hill's winning 3,200 relay team (7:59.9).
At the Penn Relays, Stroup made a name for himself on the national level, finishing runner-up in the 1,600 (4:13.51).
Co-Coaches of the Year: Peter Dodd and Joel Pechart, Bowling Brook
In 1992, Dodd and Pechart started a track program at the western Carroll County preparatory school. Nine years later, against seemingly insurmountable odds, they've developed it into a consistent power. Each year, the co-coaches must start from scratch with a new group of athletes.
This year, they succeeded in molding those athletes into one of the strongest private school units around. This season, the team scored victories at the 16-team Tri-State Invitational in Hancock, the Journal-Hedgesville (W.Va.) Eagles Invitational and the Sonny Sheppard Relays in Hanover, Pa., and took second to only top-ranked Mount St. Joseph at the private schools state meet after runner-up finishes at the Westminster Invitational and Zimmerman Invitational in Walkersville.
To put its season in proper perspective, Bowling Brook never finished below second place following its first meet, and the only teams it failed to outpoint all season were Mount St. Joseph, Westminster and Frederick.
"They far exceed our expectations," said Pechart, whose team won the 400 and 800 relays at the prestigious Knights Invitational, beating out such powers as Oakland Mills, Mervo and Mount St. Joseph.
Along the way, the relay-oriented team also shattered school records in the 1,600 (3:28) and 3,200 (8:23.6) relays. After its first meet, Bowling Brook never finished worse than second.
Patrick Bailey, C. Milton Wright
Last year, Bailey inauspiciously began his high school running career after getting cut from the Mustangs' soccer team. This year, the sophomore has made the cut as one of the area's top distance phenoms, closing out the spring season by taking runner-up in the 1,600 (4:22.67) and third in the 3,200 (9:25.8) at the Class 4A state championships.
He was undefeated against Harford County competition this season in the 1,600 and 3,200, setting a school record in the former and a county record in the latter.
He won both events at the county championship meet, helping the Mustangs to a team title, and repeated his performance at the Class 4A, East regionals.
Gary Bates, Randallstown
The Rams' jumping jack closed out his high school career with a bang, winning the Class 3A state championship in the high jump by clearing 6 feet 8, and also taking sixth in the state long jump after having jumped as long as 21 feet, 11 1/2 inches earlier in the season.
That followed a win in the high jump at the Class 3A, North regionals and finishes of second and sixth, respectively, in the Baltimore County and region long jump. His top jump was 6-10 during the indoor season.
Jumps, however, weren't the only events in which this senior could shine. He also took third in the region 200 (23.3), and from time to time left his mark in the 400 and hurdles, as well.
Ryan Blackwell, Howard
The Lions' athletic senior had a day that will long be remembered at the Howard County championships, becoming the first male athlete in 14 years to win individual gold medals in four events. Blackwell turned his trick by claiming titles in the 110 hurdles (14.7), 300 hurdles (39.5), long jump (21-8) and triple jump (42-6), single-handedly scoring 40 points for his team.
His good fortunes continued at the Class 2A, South regionals, where he posted wins in the long jump and triple jump, before he closed out his season with a third-place finish in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump at the Class 2A state meet at UMBC.
Jabari Bush, Mervo
The Mustangs' jack of all trades, Bush ran anything from the 200 to the 800, depending on what his team most needed. The junior's best event was the 400, in which he finished second in the region before taking runner-up at the Class 4A state meet (49.89). His fastest time this spring was a sizzling 48.5.
He also excelled in the 200, taking runner-up at regionals (22.7) to help perennial-power Mervo claim a Class 4A, North championship.
Despite all the individual accolades, however, Bush did some of his best work in relays. He was a mainstay on the backstretch in the 400 relay, most often putting his team ahead of the pack, and often ran the anchor in the 1,600 relay.
Isa George, Overlea
The senior jumped his way into the history books this spring, setting a Baltimore County record in the triple jump by clearing 46 feet, 7 inches. He also won a county title in the long jump (22-1 1/2 ).
George then went on to win both events at the Class 2A, North regionals, taking the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 2 inches to help the Falcons to a second-place meet finish, just three points out of the lead.
He capped off a remarkable season by winning a Class 2A state title in the triple jump and taking runner-up in the long jump. When he wasn't jumping, however, George was flying, finishing fourth in the county and third in his region 400.
Jon Goldsmith, Glenelg
This year's state championships at UMBC showcased two of the greatest races in meet history, and Goldsmith came out on the winning end of both. Reminiscent of classic thoroughbred showdowns, he and Oakland Mills' Izudin Mehmedovic ran neck-and-neck to the wire of the 3,200, when, at the end of eight full laps around the track, Goldsmith crossed the line in a Class 1A state record 9:32.48 - just two-hundredths of a second ahead of his Howard County rival, and a personal-best by 14 seconds. The two again battled it out in the 1,600 before Goldsmith again won by less than a second, again in a class record (4:22.17).
He also ran the anchor leg on Glenelg's winning 3,200 relay team. In the county, he finished second to Performer of the Year Shane Stroup in the 1,600 (4:18.3) and third in the 3,200 (9:47.7).
Andy Kuchera, Westminster
His coach, Jim Shank, calls this senior "Mr. Steady," and with good reason. Kuchera hovered around the 13-foot mark in the pole vault all season, clearing a career-best 13 feet, 6 inches at the Westminster Invitational before winning Carroll County, Central Maryland Conference and Class 4A East region championships.
He closed out the season by taking runner-up (13 feet) at the Class 4A state meet. The senior's dominance is no mystery.
This student of the pole vault attends at least one specialized camp each summer, and his vaults have showed the effort, improving by well over a foot since last winter.
He also filled a void for the Owls by excelling at the hurdles, where he claimed a county championship in the 110 hurdles and took 10th in that event at the Knights Invitational.
Dusty Lieb, Archbishop Spalding
The Sun's All-Metro Cross Country Runner of the Year continued to excel on Anne Arundel County tracks this spring. The Cavaliers' senior wrapped up his stellar high school career with a title in the 3,200 at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships, winning in 9:51.6.
The Pennsylvania-bound senior also won the 3,000 at the Knights Invitational in 8:57.0, shaving more than 13 seconds off the meet record.
Other wins in the 3,200 this season came at the private schools state meet at McDonogh and the Mount St. Joseph Invitational (9:37.70), where he smashed the 5-year-old meet record by nearly six seconds.
Mark McKenzie, Woodlawn
This multitalented junior excelled in no less than three individual events for the Warriors. At the Baltimore County championships, McKenzie claimed gold medals in the 110 high hurdles (14.3), the 300 hurdles (39.8) and the high jump (6-2), scoring 30 points to lead Woodlawn to its fifth straight county crown.
At the Class 4A, North regionals, he won the high jump and 300 hurdles (39.3), but after running the fastest preliminary in the 110 hurdles (14.4), he false started in the finals, keeping him out of the event at the state meet. He did go on to place third in the 300 hurdles (40.22) at the Class 4A state meet.
The former All-County football pick also won events at several other prestigious meets, including the 110 hurdles at the Woodlawn Invitational.
Jeremy Moore, Broadneck
The Bruins' senior thrower is at the head of his class in the shot put. After winning an Anne Arundel County championship in that event with a heave of 56 feet, 4 inches, he went on to capture gold at the Class 4A, East regional - by a whopping eight feet - before finishing second at the Class 4A state meet (55-2 1/2 ).
Though Moore has owned county shot put competitions for the past three years, however, he was certainly no one-hit wonder. He also placed second in the county discus, with a throw that measured 145-6, and later took third in that event at regionals and fifth at states.
He leaves Broadneck with eight career county championships.
Stefan Pastor, Oakland Mills
When an injury sidelined Oakland Mills standout Kyle Farmer, Pastor stepped up to help lead the Scorpions to their latest in a series of Class 1A state championships. At the Howard County meet, the senior captured gold medals in the 200 (21.9) and 400 (48.7) before anchoring his team's winning 800 and 1,600 relays.
He followed that up with second-place finishes in the 200 and 400 (48.5) at the Class 1A, South regional, as well as runner-up spots in both events at the Class 1A state meet at UMBC, where only two-hundredths of a second separated him from a state title in the 200 after he had gone a blistering 22.08 in qualifying.
He also helped the Scorpions win the 400 and 1,600 relays at states.
Courtney Pointer, Overlea
Time and again, this senior proved himself as the metro area's top sprinter. At the Baltimore County championships, he captured gold medals in the 100 (10.4) and 200 (21.9) - both times edging out Pikesville's Adam Grossman, who himself would go on to win state titles in both events - as well as the 400 (48.2).
He would go on from there to win regional titles in all three events before single-handedly scoring 28 points at the Class 2A state meet, winning the 100 (11.16) and 200 (22.43) and taking runner-up in the 400.
At states, he and teammate Isa George, a fellow first-team selection, led the Falcons to a surprising fourth-place finish.
Tim Rider, Calvert Hall
A soccer standout in the fall, this senior scored more than his share of points for the Cardinals on the track this spring. With top times of 10.7 seconds in the 100, 22.49 in the 200 and 50.08 in the 400, Rider dominated the competition all season, going undefeated in dual meets.
He then capped a stellar prep career by winning Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association titles in the 100 (11.07), 200 (22.49) and 400 (50.98).
He also was a stalwart on Calvert Hall's 400 relay team, usually running the second leg. Most always making up the stagger, he led the 400 relay team to wins at the Anne Arundel, Colonial and Christiana Relays, as well as the MIAA championships.
Nick Wright, Mount St. Joseph
There was no one in the state of Maryland better in the hurdles than this Mount St. Joseph senior. Wright, who is bound for Howard University, was unbeaten all season in both the 110 high hurdles and the 300 hurdles, with best times of 14.0 seconds and 38.3 seconds, respectively.
His times in winning Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships in each event were faster than any winning time at the MPSSAA (public schools) state meet. He also won both events at prestigious meets like the Mount St. Joseph Invitational, Knights Invitational and private schools state meet, where he set records in each.
When not hurdling, Wright also ran legs on the Gaels' 800 and 1,600 relay teams, helping lead them to an MIAA team title.
Mike Zyvoloski, Long Reach
The Lightning football standout once again scored big in his best event, the discus. The senior, who holds the county record in the discus (171-8), had a sweep in that event during the postseason, winning Howard County (157-7), Class 3A, East region and state Class 3A championships, the latter with a toss of 163 feet, 6 inches to give him top honors by nearly 22 feet.
He also excelled in the shot put, where he claimed county (50-6) and region titles before taking runner-up at the state meet with a personal best of 52 feet, 4 1/2 inches.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun