It is fall 1989. Kim Lamb, a sophomore at Catonsville, keeps bringing home hardware from cross country meets. Kareem, her older brother by a year, is a hobbled two-way back for the football Comets, who are stumbling to an 0-10 record. His body hurts, but his eyes and ears are fine.
"Kim's the reason I'm running," said Kareem, now a senior and the area's fastest 400-meter man for the second straight year. "We'd be at the dinner table, and she would be showing off another ribbon or a medal, or talking about winning a race. My dad said I should try running too, and here I am."
For someone whose first schoolboy race was 14 months ago, Kareem had a rather large profile in the Baltimore County championships at Parkville yesterday. He successfully defended his titles in the 100 and 400 meters, with times of 11.1 and 48.9 seconds.
Today at Towson, Kim will defend her county title in the triple jump, try to climb the ladder in the 100 and 400, and run a leg on the 4X400 relay. She was the first-team selection in the triple jump on The Evening Sun All-Metro team a year ago, and last summer recorded a best of 35 feet, 10 inches.
She was wearing the uniform of the Ed Waters Club then. Kareem hasn't hit the summer circuit yet, and he's still learning the ins and outs of track and field, which was evident in the 800 yesterday. He was first across the line in 2:01.0, but was disqualified for a foul at the start.
Basketball was the sport of choice for both before they entered high school, and it was also their father's specialty, as Melvin Lamb played for Towson State in 1972-73.
Kareem chose football when he got to Catonsville, and that forgettable 1989 season was the last of Kareem's three years on the football team. He wrestled as a sophomore, and he's a full-time runner now. He placed 25th in the county cross country meet last fall, and easily won the 500 at the state Class 3A indoor track championships in a fine 1:08.3.
Kim was academically ineligible for the indoor season, and the Comets missed her, because they were just one point behind Linganore in the team chase. Catonsville has the area's fastest 4X800 relay in Alexandra Clark, Meredith and Joanna Benzing, and Megan Blank. April Hart is a 5-2 high-jumper.
"Kim is the fastest girl in the school and could be our best half-miler, but we need her in other events right now," Catonsville coach Jeff McDaniel said. "She has so much talent, and her work habits are improving. If she gets the training in, she could be excellent in the 800."
While Kim is part of one of the area's top teams, Kareem is pretty much a one-man show who was a spectator at last Saturday's Anne Arundel Relays. He didn't get the recognition his sister did last spring, because a false start at the regional level kept him out of the 400 at the state meet.
"I'm going to be there this time," Kareem said. "I need some competition. If I get in a good race in the 400, I think I can break 48 seconds."
It's a big week for timepiece-watching, as area counties conduct championships. In terms of quality and story line, the best competition comes Saturday (10 a.m.) at Annapolis High, where the Meade girls try to dethrone 10-time champion Old Mill. Harford goes at Edgewood today, and Howard finishes a two-day run at Mount Hebron. Carroll County is at Western Maryland College tomorrow (12:30 p.m.).