By Craig Clary, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:19 PM EDT, July 27, 2011
The Catonsville Cougars Track Club has produced some quality performers in the past.
Until this summer, the Cougars never qualified three athletes for the Amateur Athletic Union National Junior Olympics in New Orleans.
Maja Wichhart, 14, Mark Schultheis, 9, and Tyree Nesmith, 14, all qualified for the meet, July 30-Aug. 6.
They secured the spot in nationals at a regional meet at South Hagerstown High in late June by placing in the top-five in their event to qualify.
Wichhart, who will be a freshman at Catonsville High in the fall, qualified in the pentathlon.
Her 2,412 points in the high jump, long jump, shot put, hurdles and 800-meter run were nearly 400 points more than she amassed in 2010.
She set personal records in the 100-meter hurdles (16.49) and high jump (4 feet, 7 inches).
Both were big improvements because coaches Tony Christian and Steve Holliday had her work with high jump and hurdle coaching specialists.
"She learned to high jump in one clinic," said Christian, noting the jump would have placed her third in the Baltimore County varsity track and field championship meet.
Although she qualified, her busy schedule will prevent her from attending the meet in New Orleans.
"I think she could have been top-10 athlete in the pentathlon," Christian said.
Schultheis, who was second in the 800 (2:57.23) in the qualifying meet, set his personal record by nearly three seconds in his first season of track and field.
"He is the hardest worker I've got," Christian said. "He hits his times in practice and runs really hard."
Schulteis, who also runs the 400, often equals his 400 meter time in the first leg of the 800 meters.
"He is like a textbook 800 runner," said the coach.
Schultheis will race in New Orleans on Aug. 3.
Nesmith, who will also compete in the Big Easy, Aug. 1, placed fourth in the 100 meters (12:38) after advancing with a 12:35 in a semifinal.
The former Catonsville Stars running back will try out for the Woodlawn junior varsity on the gridiron in the fall.
"As the season went on, he was running well in all the meets," Christian said.
Also competing for the Cougars, who started the season with seven athletes, were Hannah Adenyi, 10, and Christian Johnson, 9.
Adenyi, who also swims, was 10th in the 200 (40:53) and 400 (1:28).
"She hardly practices, so she must be a phenomenal athlete," Christian said.
Christian knows phenomenal athletes, having coached his daughter, Kellie, who is a rising junior on the Georgia Tech University track squad.
Christian and Taylor Martin (Western Tech) were the last multiple qualifiers for the junior national meet from the Cougar program in its 10th season.
The low numbers on this year's team may force Christian to take a new approach next summer.
"We don't usually recruit," he said. "We are going to have to recruit."