Western Maryland's most successful football season since 1979 paid immediate dividends. Coach Dale Sprague will have more than 40 freshmen in camp when practice begins Aug. 24, and while there are openings at quarterback and on the offensive line, all eyes will be on running back Eric Frees.
A senior from Ephrata, Pa., Frees is three-quarters of the way through what has already been a record-breaking career, as he has 3,736 yards to his credit. He rushed for 882 yards as a freshman, 1,260 as a sophomore and 1,594 as a junior, when Western Maryland went 6-3-1.
If Frees maintains that progression and gets more than 1,834 yards this fall, he would end up the all-time leading rusher in NCAA Division III. From 1982-85, Plymouth State's Joe Dudek, a Sports Illustrated cover boy, gained 5,570 yards. The state record, Napoleon McCallum's 4,179 yards for Navy from 1981-85, should fall sometime in September.
Frees, who carried 29 1/2 times a game last fall, could get even more work in 1991.
"I don't think there's a better all-around running back in Division III in the country," Sprague said. "Every game this kid amazes me."
Frees, one of 13 returning starters, will first strut his stuff Sept. 14, when the Green Terrors open with Albright at home. The Johns Hopkins game is also in Westminster, Nov. 16.
* Tom Finnegan will once again resume the head coaching responsibilities of the Washington College men's and women's tennis programs. The Shoremen's basketball coach the last 21 seasons, Finnegan also ran the men's tennis team from 1975-85 and began the women's program in 1975. He'll be assisted by Todd Helbling, Washington's new soccer coach.
Athletic director Geoff Miller wants all of his head coaches to be full-time employees, and the moves haven't pleased everyone in Chestertown. Part-time coaches Fred Wyman and Holly Bramble took the men's and women's tennis teams, respectively, to national prominence.
"We're very upset about these changes," Bramble said. "You expect a program to continue and grow, but I'm afraid it's going to go backward. Tracy Peel [an NCAA semifinalist last month] is coming back for her senior year, but she told me she will not play for Washington."
The Mountaineers received first-place points in women's basketball and tennis, and men's outdoor track and field. Runner-up teams included men's tennis and outdoor track and field, and women's indoor and outdoor track and field.
Only two Mount teams finished in the lower half of the NEC standings, and one of them was men's basketball. Coach Jim Phelan's team should be healthier and better in 1991-92, but the Mountaineers play just one home game before Christmas. The opener is Nov. 23, at Maryland.
The list of track and field recruits coming to Emmitsburg includes Eric Graham, a good looking sprinter from Oakland Mills High.
* Woodlawn High product Torrance Zellner bounced back from a forgettable NCAA track and field meet -- he didn't survive the semifinals -- with a sterling performance at The Athletics Congress championships. A senior to be at Florida, Zellner placed fifth in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in a personal best of 49.30 seconds.
Zellner was .70 seconds away from a third-place finish and a berth in the world championships in Tokyo later this summer.
The men's 10,000 had two area products in the top 10, as former Glenelg High and Michigan standout John Scherer was seventh in 28:32.58 and Steve Kartalia (Westminster and Wake Forest) was 10th in 29:50.83.
* Delaware announced earlier this week that it was dropping wrestling, and rumor has it that the Blue Hens might chop other sports. That's the cost of doing business in the North Atlantic Conference, which Delaware will join in September. It's also the place Towson State wants to be.
* A total of 117 Salisbury State athletes had grade-point averages of 3.0 or better this spring . . . Western Maryland's basketball recruits include Johnny Williams, a pretty good point guard out of Broadneck High . . . Pete Kwiterovich (Gilman) completed his Johns Hopkins baseball career among the Blue Jays career leaders in almost every offensive category.