Five years ago Matt Holthaus was a struggling Wilde Lake runner without even one high school championship to brag about. Now he's a collegiate All-American miler.
Holthaus, a Wilde Lake High graduate who runs for James Madison University, finished seventh at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in the 1,500-meter run in June. That finish automatically made him a college All-American.
Holthaus, who is training in Florida this summer, ran a personal-best 3 minutes, 41 seconds in that race. He was one of only two American-born runners among the top seven finishers.
He credits Steve Musselman, his former Wilde Lake coach and current cross country and track coach at Howard Community College, for much of his success.
Holthaus says he was just muddling along as a runner until Musselman became Wilde Lake's cross country and track coach for Holthaus' senior year.
"He set up a regular workout schedule and built up my confidence so that I started taking the sport seriously," Holthaus said.
Holthaus went from obscurity to stardom his senior year by dominating the state Class 2A division in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
He won the state cross country championship, the indoor 800 and 1,600, and the outdoor runs at 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
"He was an untapped talent who had the intelligence to do the workouts, plot out strategy and not be afraid to try new things," Musselman said.
Holthaus had been a quarter-miler, half-miler, triple jumper and hurdler in track until Musselman talked him into running the mile.
"He won the first mile he raced at the National Guard indoor track meet and the rest was history," Musselman said.
At The U.S. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., in June Holthaus was part of a controversial disqualification after a spill in one of the 1,500 heats. He finished second in the heat, but he and another runner were disqualified for bumping.
"It was a very poor decision," Holthaus said. "Neither I nor the other guy were responsible."
Holthaus had better luck at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York's Madison Square Garden when he finished second in the college mile event.
He's also a top student, carrying a 3.82 grade point average while majoring in mass communications and German. Holthaus made the first-team Virginia All-Academic team and was James Madison's Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Holthaus will be a senior at James Madison this fall, but has two years of college eligibility left.
Mills with Corrigan's
Jason Mills (Atholton and East Carolina University) recently returned from a 25-game season with the Utica-Rome Indians in the Northeast Collegiate Baseball League and is now pitching with Corrigan's, the top 20-under baseball team in the Baltimore area.
Mills, who has two years of college athletic eligibility left, worked as the set-up man for East Carolina's closer this past spring.
He made 15 appearances, pitching 18 innings, striking out 12 and compiling a 1.72 ERA. No one scored against him in his first 13 appearances.
East Carolina (41-19) won the Colonial Athletic Conference championship and turned in the third-best season in school history. The pitching staff was fourth in the nation in team ERA.
Mills was 2-0 with two saves for Utica-Rome, which was 10-15 when he left to return home.
"The coach there had decided he was going to use pitchers from his local team as the starters because some of us were late reporting to the team due to college regionals," Mills said. "So some of us left and Walter Youse picked me up for Corrigan's."
The reason Mills went to Utica-Rome was that his college coach wanted him to pitch in a wooden-bat league. College leagues use metal bats.
"You learn how to pitch inside better against players using wooden bats," Mills said.
With Corrigan's he has pitched seven innings, struck out 13, allowed two runs and walked three.
Corrigan's is getting ready for regionals in Altoona, Pa., in two weeks.
Hammond track stars
A pair of state high school track champions from Hammond High, Robert Sharps and Kisha Jett, have qualified for the National Junior Olympics in Louisiana later this summer.
Sharps won the Junior Olympic regional championship in the 110 hurdles with a time of 13.9.
Jett finished second in both the 100 and 100 hurdles at the regional meet held in Hampton, Va.
Jett will be competing this weekend in the East Coast Championships at George Mason University. She is the defending champ in the 100 and 200.
Soccer star at Festival
Hamisi Amani-Dove (Wilde Lake), who will be a sophomore at Rutgers this fall, will compete in the 10-day Olympic Festival that opens Friday in San Antonio.
After the festival, Amani-Dove will accompany his Rutgers team on a 10-day soccer tour of England.
Gwinn at Deaf Olympics
Neil Gwinn, who recently resigned as girls soccer coach at Glenelg High, is playing for the U.S. World Cup team at the Olympics for the deaf in Bulgaria.
Gwinn, team captain and sweeper, is a teacher at Laurel Woods Elementary. The Olympics began Monday and are to run through Aug. 6. Gwinn's first game is Sunday against Ireland.
Tim O'Brien will replace Bill Winder as Oakland Mills baseball coach next spring.
O'Brien, an Oakland Mills teacher, coached Wilde Lake last season.
Blissett to Brevard
Tyann Blissett, The Baltimore Sun's Howard County Girls Soccer Co-Player of the Year last season, will attend Brevard Junior College in North Carolina where she hopes to continue her soccer career.
Blissett scored 13 goals and had 10 assists for the Class 1A-2A state champion Scorpions.