Old Mill first-year indoor track coach Mike Marcus anguishes over the thought of having to follow in the footsteps of Patriots long-time coach Ron Evans. "Filling his size 38 shoes won't be an easy job," Marcus said.
But winning seems to come with the territory.
Old Mill's girls team enters the season with hopes of capturing its ninth consecutive county title while the Patriot boys will try to make it seven straight county crowns when Anne Arundel's 11 public school teams pile into the Baltimore Armory on Jan. 27.
The Patriots will try to keep their winning streaks intact without the help of Michelle Smith and Jamaal Dixon-Hawkins, a pair of state-champion shot-putters and last year's Male and Female Indoor Track and Field Athletes of the Year.
Whether or not the Patriots can stay atop without their former mentor and their two top performers is unknown but Marcus -- along with other 10 county coaches -- is optimistic.
The following is a look at the county teams, most of whom will compete today at the Baltimore Armory in the first meet of the season:
Panthers first-year coach Bruce Reid said he's looking forward to working with the "largest indoor track team Annapolis has ever had."
Senior sprinter/hurdler Kenny Boyd returns for the Panthers along with senior high jumper Alex Purdue and Reid's younger brother, Orlie, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound shot-putter.
Junior Kristen Nicolini, the metro area's Female Cross Country Runner of the Year, will compete for the Panthers on a part-time basis and will try and get qualified for the state competition scheduled for Feb. 21 at the 5th Regiment Armory.
Kisha Henderson will run the hurdles, and Becky Morris should set the pace in the distance races.
Senior Geoff Warren, the defending indoor state champ in the 3,200 run, is expected to lead the Wildcats' male contingent.
Warren is joined by a number of talented distance runners, including seniors Jason Birch, Steven Kane and Rob Sutton and junior Blair Morse. Senior Wade Rolocut returns after finishing fourth in the states in the pole vault, and he will be pushed by senior Kevyn Dodson, who was one inch away from qualifying for the states last season.
Sophomore Christy Nichols returns for Arundel's girls team after finishing second in the states last year in the 3,200 behind Dulaney's Amanda White. Nichols will get some help in the distance races from junior Shauna Donohue and junior Jen Brooks, who transferred from Arizona.
"We have a lot of returning guys that scored last year and we're hoping to improve on that," said Arundel coach Tut O'Hara. "I think we have a good nucleus of girls. There's still some girls around school that I'd like to get to join the team, and if they come out, we should be tough."
The Bruins have dropped to Class 3A and won't have to compete against Old Mill. But Broadneck coach Gerald Kiple believes his team will be tested, competing against the likes of Howard County's Centennial and Seneca Valley of Montgomery County.
"It won't be any easier," said Kiple. "In fact, it might be harder."
Senior Jere Hartman is the Bruins' premier distance runner, and he should be flanked in the 800 and 1,600 runs by senior Peter Ormsby and sophomores Jon Carnes and Dave Schilling.
Senior Becky Holmes will represent Broadneck in the middle distances, high jump and relays. Joining Holmes in the middle-distance events are junior Kim Nelson and sophomores Colleen Rossiter and Laura Stickles.
John Gray's relay-rich Cougars will get only stronger this season with the return of the three seniors and a junior who captured last year's state championship in the 4 x 800 event.
Seniors Shawn Stallings, Brian Miller and junior Phil Heying will try and defend their four-man title while trying to make a name for themselves in the 500, 800 and 1,600 individual events.
Tanieka Middleton, a quality sprinter who took second in the 100 -- outdoors last spring, leads Chesapeake's girls team along with seniors Kristie Owen and Nikki Spann.
Junior Emily Plenge is expected to help the Cougars in the high jump and hurdles, and Molly Bean, Cammie Owens, Lynn Johns, Stephanie Stevens and Erin Thomas will contribute to the success of Chesapeake's 3,200 relay.
Glen Burnie Gophers
With Glen Burnie's star distance runner Becky McDivitt opting to spend her winter months in the swimming pool, the Gophers will rely on junior harrier Missy Hennessey to carry the brunt of the load for the girls team. After Hennessey, the Gophers are short on experience and depth.
Ditto for Glen Burnie's boys team.
The Gophers will be well-represented in the 300 and 500 with senior Chuck Grubb, but beyond that, they're thin and inexperienced.
When you think of Meade, you think of sprinters and this winter will be no different.
Junior Raymond Otis and senior Andre Wise are the Mustangs' biggest threats to claim county titles on the boys side. Sophomore sprinter Jayma Banks and senior Yulanda Archer are heavy favorites to win the girls' dashes.
"We've had quite a few injuries already on both the boys and girls teams, but if they can heal somewhat, we should do pretty well," said Mustangs coach Hayes Henderson. "We have a little experience in a couple of spots."
With only one returning runner and no depth to speak of, Eagles fourth-year coach Buck Boxwell is calling the 1993-94 season "a rebuilding year for sure."
The lone veteran for Northeast is junior John Thompson and he should get some help from freshman Mark Gaskins, who Boxwell says "has shown some promise."
Senior shot-putter Christie McDevitt returns for the Cougars' girls team after finishing fourth in the county last year.
North County Knights
For the first time in a few years, Ed Harte's Knights will have to rely on balanced scoring rather than one superstar to keep them atop the county leader board.
Speedsters Topper Ellis, John Martin and Troy Fowlkes will handle the sprinting events for North County. Dennis Lomax, Tony Fowlkes, Chris Connelly and Danny Zovarka work the middle distances.
Junior Kenda Johnson and Tamiko Mack are about the closest thing to a superstar that the Knights have. Mack and Johnson finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 400 run during the outdoor season. "They're bookends and they will carry us," said Harte.
Old Mill Patriots
The Patriots boast one of the area's premier multi-event athletes in senior Raina Domneys, but after that, Marcus is hoping to get some "nickel and dime points here and there."
Old Mill should be able to pick up enough loose change from sophomores Beth Walker and Carina Sonberg and freshman Jenny Davis running middle and long distances and senior Carrie Klimes running the 300. Junior Erica Davis returns for the Patriots' county champion 800 relay squad, along with Klimes and Domneys.
Junior Jenny Porter will try to defend her county title in the 500 run while combining with Klimes and Domneys to try and repeat as county champs in the 1,600 relay. Junior Kristin Wimbrow, last year's county champion in the high jump, will try and defend her title while also running in the middle-distance events.
Senior Jimmy Greer, the defending state champion in the pole vault, and senior Jason Reckner, who recently emerged as state champ in cross country, will anchor the Patriots' male contingent.
Senior Kevin McKinney, a second-team All-Metro selection last year, and distance runners Ron Pennington and Chris Long are others capable of earning Old Mill some team points in the postseason.
Severna Park Falcons
The Falcons, who normally rely on their distance runners, had a number of football players come out for their squad this year, which should provide them with some assistance in the sprints.
Severna Park running backs Matt Long and Mark Frye are using the indoor track season to build strength and speed and are making the Falcons stronger and faster in the process. Ryan Krulis, a senior shot-putter who took third in the county and regions last year, returns along with senior Mike Fleming.
Severna Park coach Jim Patton says his girls team is "pretty strong just about everywhere."
Soccer and lacrosse standout Erin Wylde and Severna Park field hockey star Mary Jo Mohoney are two athletes Patton can rely on as are distance runners Brianna Weidman, Stefanie Petr, Julia Flaherty, Katrina Lee, Erica Krajnik, Summer Nugent and Jenny Band.
South River Seahawks
The Seahawks are hoping to take over where their region champion cross country team left off.
Seniors Craig Hopkins, Danny Zamarripa and Richard Emge, along with talented junior Jack Longley, give South River a solid corps of distance runners, who could collect some big points nTC come regions and states. Senior Steve Cadiz (hurdles and pole vault) and Kevin Glass (800, 1,600) are among 41 of the boys who will travel with South River this winter.
"This is the most number of good athletes that I've ever gotten including my years at Severna Park so I'm real pleased," said Seahawks coach Scott Baker. "I'm kind of disappointed with the turnout for the girls' team [21 members], but it's a young team and I'm excited about that."
Chrissy Burke, who placed in the states last year in the 500 run, is South River's only senior girl. She should get some help in the scoring from a solid group of middle-distance runners, which includes Erin Moorcones, Kai-Lee Kurlychek, Colleen McLaughlin, Heather Mack and indoor county champion high jumper Jen Smith.