They're off and running Long distance runners set tone as state's best


Year-round racing isn't the preferred training method for the most talented group of girls distance runners the area has produced in a decade.

The Baltimore area has the state's top three girls, and none of the big three ran indoor track this winter. One doesn't even run cross country. Overall, this year's talent pool includes state champions at every level and a lesser-seen light from Baltimore City. The most encouraging factor is that few are seniors.

Together, it is the area's deepest collection of distance talent since the 1981 bunch that included Lansdowne's Karin Wagner, Hereford's Tammy Walder and the Howard County triumvirate of Wilde Lake's Alysia Terry, Atholton's Carolyn Forde and Oakland Mills' Donna Neale. The latter two were a year away from setting area records that since haven't been endangered.

Here's what 1991 has to offer:

* JENNY HOWARD: A two-time Evening Sun Runner of the Year in cross country, the Fallston senior is also seeking her third straight Class 2A title in the 3,200 meters. Only seven girls from the area have won a state event three times.

Jenny played basketball for the Cougars, but she also found time to place fourth in the two mile at the national scholastic indoor championships. Her time of 10 minutes, 51.03 seconds was better than the area outdoor record.

* STEPHANIE MORNINGSTAR: The Westminster junior won state 4A titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, an unprecedented triple, and Owls coach Bill Hill said "she's way ahead of where she was at this point last year."

A soccer and basketball player, Morningstar supplemented her mileage base with runs after hoop practice this winter.

* AMANDA WHITE: A Dulaney sophomore, White won't start thinking about track until April 8 at the earliest, after she's done competing for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club at the national swimming championships.

White has never raced on a track, but her experience was also in question last October. In her first cross country season, White won Baltimore County and state 4A titles, and finished third at the Kinney nationals.

* ANITA MANNING: This Poly junior is as talented as any in the bunch, and she should have her way in the city. Manning missed last year's city championships because of illness, but came back strong in the summer, dipping to 4:48.6 in the 1,500 meters and 2:20.2 in the 800.

Under the right conditions, Manning is capable of surpassing the city records in both events that Western's Pat Walker established in 1979.

All are angling for a berth in the Penn Relays April 25, either at 1,500 or 3,000 meters.

The best showdowns locally should come in May, at the 4A level. For those looking ahead, the area records in the 1,500 (4:40.3), 1,600 (4:53.2) and 3,200 (10:56.3) were all set by Atholton's Forde in 1982. The area 3,000 mark (10:04.4) was set in 1986 by Steffi Rausch, then a freshman at McDonogh.

In Class 4A, Morningstar and White will be chased by two accomplished juniors, Frederick's Jennie Novak and Severna Park's Fran Mackney.

Mackney was the area leader indoors in the 1,600. Dulaney's Kristen Friz, fifth in the state 3,200 as a freshman, is coming back from illness that ended her cross country season.

Old Mill has two sophomores to watch. Nickie Matters, out the last two weeks with an eye injury, was the state indoor champ in the 800, and Marisa Sanders ran 5:25 in the 1,600 as a freshman.

The credentials aren't as loud in 3A, but there is depth.

Catonsville senior Alexandra Clark ruled at both 1,600 and 3,200 indoors, and teammate Meredith Benzing could again be the top challenger for Linganore's Joanna Boettinger in the 800. The comer is Franklin freshman Kelly Parrish. C. Milton Wright sophomore Stacy Servia was the runner-up in the 3,200 last year, and also in state cross country.

Fallston's Howard outdistances the field in 2A, where Hammond sophomore Samantha Andersch wants to add to a resume that begins with soccer. Glenelg's Kristina Adams was sidelined by mononucleosis during the indoor season, but she and Kate Terry are a solid combination. Joppatowne junior Thori Staples won the 1A meet and led the area in the 800 in 1990.

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