What a difference a year makes. Last year the Glenelg boys indoor track team sweated out the final event before learning it had won the state title by one point.
At the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore Wednesday, the Gladiators celebrated early, winning six events and routing runner-up Fairmont Heights, 87-52.
* New star in distance running. Page 24.
Everyone performed upto expectations or even better for Glenelg.
The big guns includedsenior middle distance runners Eric Widmaier and Mark Coleman, each of whom won two gold medals, and junior long distance runner Gerard Hogan, who also won two golds.
Junior pole vaulters Jason Botterilland Aaron Browning finished first and second respectively, each clearing 11 feet, producing key points for the Gladiators.
Joining in the gold medal parade were Renard Brown and Darryl Dunigan, who teamed with Widmaier and Coleman to win the 3,200 relay in 8 minutes, 38.4seconds.
Widmaier broke the school record, winning the 500 metersin 1:09.0. Widmaier had set another school record in the regionals in the 300 at 37.7, but Wednesday he ran a 38.6, a time good enough only for fifth place.
"I didn't know I had won the 500 because I wasin the slow heat," Widmaier said. "I run best when I can get out in front by myself and I was able to do that today."
For Widmaier, who ranks fifth in his class with a 3.89 GPA, it was the first time he had placed in an individual event at a state meet.
Coleman, who isas good in the classroom as he is on the track, with a 3.5 grade-point average, won the 800 meters in 2:05.1. He finished second by 1.1 seconds to Widmaier in the 500. The two middle-distance runners pushedeach other all season.
Hogan, who sports a perfect 4.0 GPA, posted some good numbers in winning both the 1,600 and the 3,200 meters.
Hogan actually ran 3,400 meters to win the 3,200 due to an error byofficials, but his 10:43.3 edged runner-up Mike Mamo of Milford Millby 4.5 seconds in a thrilling finish.
Mamo, the top seed, led almost the entire race by as much as 30 meters. But Hogan caught him on the final and 17th lap.
"You usually don't come back when you get that far behind," said assistant coach Steve Ruckert, who works with the distance runners.
Hogan had done the same in the 1,600 after Mamo set a blistering early quarter-mile pace of 64 seconds.
So in the 3,200, Hogan held out hope that Mamo would again come back to him.
"When it came down to two laps to go I gave all I could give," Hogan said. "I knew the team needed it."
Gladiators coach Roger Volrath, who tries to downplay his own role in Glenelg's prominent tracksuccess, and who hung back on the sidelines as his team went to receive its first-place trophy, was delighted with the efforts of his athletes.
"They deserve the credit," he said.
Volrath and Ruckert each have 18 seasons of coaching experience.
"We owe our win to Coaches Volrath and Ruckert," Widmaier said. "We hate them when we train because they work us so hard, but we love them today because it paid off."
The Glenelg victory was the biggest story Wednesday, but the Hammond girls team, although not performing its best, still had something to cheer about.
The Golden Bears finished second with 48 points behind powerful Central, which earned 95.3 points. The Glenelggirls finished fourth with 30.
In the three events Hammond had hoped to win head-to-head against Central -- the 800-meter relay, the 55 -- and the 300-meter run -- the Bears set one school record and just missed one county record but came up a little short in all three races.
Freshman Kisha Jett set a school record of 41.6 seconds in the 300 but lost to Charmaine Field of Central by one-tenth of a second.