Seniors consider their next step M. Mill's Matthews to attend Bowie


It's a time of tough decisions for college-bound seniors.

Milford Mill basketball player Ulanda Matthews has made hers: She will sign a letter of intent next Wednesday at 4 p.m. to attend Bowie State University.

Others are still undecided, most notably Dulaney's nationally ranked distance runner, Amanda White, The Baltimore Sun's 1991-92 Female Athlete of the Year, and Owings Mill's two-time All-American wrestler Grant Johnson, a three-time All-Metro and The Sun's 1992-93 Wrestler of the Year.

Johnson, who wants to major in international studies, is considering Boston College, West Virginia, Loch Haven and Iowa State.

A three-time state champ, Johnson (171) went 44-1 with 30 pins this season (131-6 for his career). He was a recent runner-up in the 46-team National High School tournament, leading the Maryland team to a seventh-place finish.

"I really thank my high school coach, Guy Pritzker, for showing me how to be successful," said Johnson. "That's why I'm looking at those four schools. The coaches seem to be good, honest people. I'm favoring Boston because of its academic setting."

White, who wants to major in physical therapy, says the same of Michigan, Stanford and Arizona universities.

She visited Stanford in January, Michigan in late February and was to leave today for a two-day look at Arizona.

"Michigan's swimming and running are both top 10 in the NCAAs, Stanford's swimming has been No. 1 for the past two years, and their running program is improving under new coaches and some new recruits," White said. "But Arizona has an exercise sports program, and their swimming and running programs are excellent. Right now, I don't know which one to choose."

Not all washed up

To call the spring high school season "a total washout" would be an overstatement, said Ron Belinko, Baltimore County's coordinator of physical education and athletics.

Belinko and Ned Sparks, executive director of the state association, recently addressed the issue of inclement weather, which for nearly three weeks has forced the postponement of a number of games and turned the outdoor season into a scheduling nightmare for coaches and athletic directors.

With six weeks left in the regular season and the playoffs slated to start in mid-May, there is concern among county and city coaches about their postseason hopes.

The advice from Sparks and Belinko? Think small, as in minimums.

A team need only play the minimum number of games to qualify for playoff consideration, which is 14 for baseball, 12 for softball and nine for boys and girls lacrosse. They contend that only in falling below those figures -- and not, for instance, the maximum number of games allowed for baseball (18) -- does a team jeopardize its playoff hopes.

Sparks said lowering the requirement would be considered only in an extreme situation -- if a significant amount of teams statewide found it "physically impossible" to reach the minimum.

Even then, the matter would have to be brought to the executive council, which meets on April 22, and then before the state Board of Control, which meets the next day.

As for moving back the playoffs?

"I don't see that being a real viable option at this point," Sparks said. "We used to have baseball and softball [playoffs] a week later than it already is, but it's pretty tough for a kid to graduate and then hang around to play baseball or softball.

"It's also difficult for coaches. If you don't have all your equipment in, they can take your diploma. But if you've already got it, what can a coach hang over you?"

In addition, retaining some of the playoff venues for later dates -- UMBC for boys lacrosse, Catonsville Community College for girls lacrosse, Anne Arundel County's Randazzo Park for softball and Frederick's McCurdy Field for baseball -- could pose a problem for other programs that use them.

Coaches should pay close attention to the deadlines for rescheduling, which, for example, is May 19 for baseball and May 18 for softball.

He noted that many county programs missed an opportunity to play last Saturday. Although some city public teams legally could play on Monday and Tuesday -- the Passover holiday -- county schools could not. They also won't be able to play today and Thursday because schools are closed.

"I do think the two sports, softball and baseball, are a concern," Belinko said. "There's no question they'll have trouble getting their games in. It's not at a critical stage yet, but if we get a rainy April after spring break we're in trouble."

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