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Golden moments: McDaniel president, Marylanders cheer on Americans in London Games

Suzanne Stettinius, a McDaniel College grad, will compete in the modern pentathlon today representing the United States during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Suzanne Stettinius, a McDaniel College grad, will compete in the modern pentathlon today representing the United States during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MCDANIEL COLLEGE , Carroll County Times)

McDaniel College President Roger Casey's favorite moment from the London Summer Olympics games came early.

It was before the torch was lit.

He spotted pentathlete Suzanne Stettinius right behind the stars and stripes at the front of the United States delegation during the parade of nations at the opening ceremonies.

Stettinius, a McDaniel College graduate, qualified for the Olympic Games in modern pentathlon, which will be the final sport to award medals prior to today's closing ceremonies.

Just seeing Stettinius on television was a prideful moment for Casey, the charismatic McDaniel president who adopted the catchphrase McSwagger shortly after arriving in Westminster a few years ago as the school's ninth president.

The Olympics games gave Marylanders much to be proud of. Swimmer Michael Phelps, a Baltimore County native, became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time after winning four gold medals and two silvers. That gives him 22 career medals earned in his four Olympics appearances.

Eventually, Phelps will be honored at public events in Towson, his hometown, and Baltimore, his current one, said Marjorie Hampson, the Director of Tourism and Promotion for Baltimore County. She's not sure what the event will be. She's not sure when. That's up to Phelps.

Hampson remembers a time when calling Phelps' mother Debbie would be enough to coordinate an appearance. Now she must go through Phelps' public relations staff. He's in demand everywhere.

Regardless, Hampson's already heard from bands, singers and even cake directors who want to help honor arguably Maryland's most famous current athlete.

"They all want to lay claim now," she said. "He's a State of Maryland boy."

Swimmer Katie Ledecky, 15, is a Maryland girl. Ledecky, the youngest Olympian on the United States roster, won the gold medal and set a new world record in the 800-meter freestyle. Ledecky, of Bethesda, returned home last week with a gold medal around her neck and local TV news appearances scheduled.

Maryland was also represented on the basketball court. Baltimore natives Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant starred for the men. Angel McCoughtry, also from Baltimore, played for the women.

Even when local ties weren't present, Carroll Countians were watching, cheering on Americans, day and night, regardless of whether coverage was tape-delayed by NBC or not.

Everyone had their favorite moments.

Sports enthusiast Doug Reaves, of Westminster, relished watching Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh win their third straight Olympics gold in beach volleyball. May-Treanor is retiring after the Olympics, but ended on top with her teammate of 11 years.

"Great back story," Reaves wrote in an email.

Brent Skeen, of Manchester, enjoyed watching British long-distance runner Mo Farah work with his American training partner Galen Rupp to finish first and second, respectively, in the 10,000-meter run. He was impressed at how they were able to hold off their African counterparts.

Towson University spokeswoman Sedonia Martin, of Hampstead, said she enjoyed watching water polo, marveling at how strong the athletes must be to keep half their bodies above water and muster perfectly placed shots at another goal.

So many prideful moments, and they started at the opening ceremony. While waiting for a chance to see Stettinius, the Class of 2011 McDaniel graduate from Parkton, compete, Casey watched the women's gymnastics team, led by individual all-around winner Gabby Douglas, win gold.

"Gaby winning the gold wasn't half bad either," Casey said, of his second-favorite moment in an Olympics full of memories.

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