It's spring, so they must be planning for another National Junior College Athletic Association title at Essex Community College.
Last year, George Henderson's team brought the NJCAA baseball title to the Northeast for the first time since the 1960s. Two years ago, Tim Puls' lacrosse program became the first from Maryland to win the NJCAA championship after 22 years of New York dominance.
Baseball (4-2) has been slowed by rebuilding and weather, but Puls has a lacrosse team that's just as talented as the one he had two years ago. The Knights are ranked No. 2 behind defending champion Herkimer, and the prevailing wisdom is that those two will meet in the NJCAA title game May 9 at Corning (N.Y.) Community College.
Essex, which last lost to a state opponent in 1987, improved to 8-0 yesterday with a 22-14 victory over No. 4 Anne Arundel. The Pioneers are the only team to get that close to the Knights, who have enjoyed a double-digit margin in the rest of their games.
Loyola-bound midfielder Zach Thornton (John Carroll) and defenseman Darby Subotich (Calvert Hall) are the only returning starters from last year.
Rife Hilgartner (Boys' Latin) and Sean Radebaugh (Loyola) start on attack and Stan Rote (John Carroll) is in the goal, but a healthy recruiting budget also has allowed Essex to bring in midfielder Brett Blackwell from New York and attackman Cameron Toomey from Australia.
Penn Relays this week
The 99th Penn Relay Carnival heats up today at Franklin Field, with women and high school girls on stage. The men and boys dominate the proceedings tomorrow, and a cast of thousands gets a shot Saturday, starting with 34 sections of the boys' 4x400-meter relay.
"One of the things that happens at Penn is that either the best or the worst comes out in people," director Tim Baker said. "The Penn Relays is probably one of the best warm-ups for international competition."
The state's best collegians will be in Philadelphia, including Johns Hopkins' Sylke Knuppel, the defending NCAA Division III champion in the javelin who was fourth at the Mount San Antonio (Calif.) College Relays last week. The Navy men are scheduled to run in the distance medley championship along with Arkansas, Villanova and Georgetown.
Two who starred at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships, Coppin State's Diana Pitts and UMES Derry Pemberton, will have busy schedules. Pemberton had probably the best track performance at the MEACs, taking the 200 in 20.81 seconds.
Morgan State's Malik White, UMES' Marlin Kimbrew and Howard's Robert Riddick (Meade) will be on the MEAC basketball team playing in the first Black College All-Star Weekend in Norfolk tomorrow and Saturday. Teams from the Central Intercollegiate, Southwestern Athletic and Southern Intercollegiate conferences will also participate. . . . Towson State and UMBC are at the Big South Conference softball tournament at Campbell.
Navy: Junior Marcus Lee was one of five players selected as Mizuno's National Player of the Week, and he was also honored by the Patriot League. In six games, Lee hit .571 (8-for-14) with four home runs and 11 RBI. He has nine home runs this season and 19 in his career, both Navy records.
UMBC: Junior first baseman Shawn Shugars (Charlotte Hall) was one of five players selected at Mizuno's National Player of the Week, and he was also honored by the Big South Conference. He hit four consecutive home runs in a doubleheader sweep of Mount St. Mary's. Junior Jay Witasick (C. Milton Wright) was named the Pitcher of the Week in the Big South Conference after throwing a five-hitter at NCAA batting leader Old Dominion and shutting out Liberty.
St. Mary's: Middle infielder David Layman (Francis Scott Key) and outfielder John Childers (Parkdale) were selected to the Capital Athletic Conference all-star team. The second team tTC included outfielder Greg Kolarik (Calvert Hall) and catcher Brian Lopez (Oakland Mills).
St. Joseph's: Amy Mallon, a senior forward who went to Mount Hebron High, was named to the Atlantic 10 Academic All-Conference team.
Erika Mawhorr, a junior from Severna Park, was named co-Player the Year in the Colonial Athletic Association. She was joined on the first team by junior Kerry Carlson (Centennial) and senior Sabrina Gallagher. The second team included junior Gina Roberts (Severna Park).