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Uncertainty at Patterson takes toll on Wrenn, coaches

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Athletic director Roger Wrenn, who usually greets phone calls to Patterson by saying, "beautiful Patterson High School," hasn't been pleased with the recent publicity the school has been getting.

"It seems that every time I read the newspaper lately, the stories read, 'troubled Patterson High,' " said Wrenn. "It's like that's become a prefix to the school's name, and I know it hurts my heart and that of a lot of alumni."

Monday, in a plan designed to improve the academic achievement at Patterson, the state approved the removal of the school's 130-member staff before the fall and will require them to compete for their jobs with applicants from inside and outside the district.

Staffers not retained will be offered jobs elsewhere in the system, according to the plan, which includes dividing the school into academic and career-preparatory programs.

"I feel real bad about the whole thing. It's generated all sorts of adverse publicity," Wrenn said. "People all over are asking me what's going on and what's going to happen."

Wrenn hopes to enter his 21st year as coach of both the football and baseball teams. His record is 125-75-2 in football, and 290-128-2 in baseball.

"I have received no notification that I don't have a job anymore, but I know that my assistant in football and wrestling, John Horrigan, who's also the track coach, took a position at North Harford to coach J.V. football," Wrenn said. "I'm sure the uncertainty of the situation at Patterson had something to do with it."

Wrenn said a recent poll taken at the school revealed that one fifth of the school faculty coaches, and one sixth of the student body plays on its teams. He added that Patterson coaches stress academics and monitor their athletes, whom he says are among the school's best students.

"The first lesson I learned in education is never to walk into a classroom and tell a student how bad they are, or they'll likely act that way," Wrenn said. "But it seems the state

and the city has told Patterson [collectively] how bad it is. I'd like to think there are a lot of good things happening at Patterson. I know we have problems, but I don't think that this is the way to address those problems."

Plienis is pioneer

McDonogh's All-Metro wrestler J.R. Plienis, 15, this summer has become the state's first double-event Cadet National champion, accomplishing that feat at 209 pounds.

Plienis, who last week finished fifth in the Cadet World Championships in Missouri, went 7-0 in the Greco-Roman category and 9-0 in freestyle at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The Maryland Scholastic Association champ also had 10 pins and yielded just 16 points in the 16 bouts. His effort has earned him the Cadet Belt given by USA Wrestling, the national governing body of wrestling, for recognition as the nation's top 15-to-16 year-old in the sport.

Plienis, a junior at McDonogh, also had the only fall in the Greco-Roman or freestyle finals, pinning his opponent in 53 seconds.

Rogers runs 'em

College basketball coaches attending the Adidas ABCD basketball camp at Fairleigh Dickinson University last weekend got a big thrill out of several local players. "Baltimore's back on the map," said Lake Clifton coach Charlie Moore.

His two-time All-Metro point guard Shawnta Rogers dazzled several coaches, including John Chaney of Temple, Bobby Cremins of Georgia Tech and a certain television analyst.

"He was terrific," was the response of ABC-ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, according to Moore. "He [Rogers] shut down probably the best point guard in the country."

Rogers (5-foot-4), who will likely rank as one of the nation's best guards next year, performed well against Stephon Marbury (6-1) of Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High School.

Rogers' prowess earned him first-team All-ABCD honors at one of the largest camps for showcasing the country's talent with about 150 juniors and seniors displaying their tal

ents before coaches and assistants from nearly every Division I school.

Dunbar senior Billy Wells played well, holding his own against Marbury, according to Dunbar coach Paul Smith. But the local surprise of the camp might have been Mount Hebron's little known Patrick Ngongba, 17.

A 6-6 junior swingman, Ngongba played half the season after transferring from Central Africa as part of the school's African Awareness Association.

"His parents are dead so he's an orphan," said his coach Scott Robinson. "He missed a year and a half of school there [Africa] because the teachers are on strike. He's a real good player, one college coach told me he's got Charles Oakley type of abilities."

Johnny Hensley of Southern also has excelled in both the AAU and Craig Cromwell leagues.

Turkey day game

Officials coordinating the 75th annual Loyola-Calvert Hall game, to be played on Thanksgiving Day at a site and time to be determined, will have a banquet commemorating the event on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

For more information, call Dennis Norango of Loyola High at (410) 823-0601.

Final NSA qualifier

The National Softball Association (NSA) will sponsor the last Baltimore County qualifier for the World Series in Reisterstown, July 23-24. For additional information, call Mark Schlenoff at (410) 828-7007.

AAU Slam-N-Jam

Johnny Hensley and Shawnta Rogers will join nine others on Cecil Kirk's junior boys team (17-year-olds) which leaves tomorrow for the July 16-21 AAU Nationals' Slam-N-Jam Tournament in Florida.

Others on the talented squad, coached by Anthony Lewis, include All-Metro Guy Butler (Woodlawn) and second-team All-Metros Reggie Frazier (Lake Clifton) and Blanchard Hurd (Milford Mill).

Also of Lake Clifton are Ronald Byrd, Jimmy Moore and Dannte Lemmon. Travon Broadway (Walbrook), Henry Herst (Patterson) and Anthony Brown (Southern) complete the roster.

Last year's squad was junior national champ, but this year's team is equally talented, Lewis said.

"We have more size, with the average being about 6 feet 4," said Lewis, who has Hurd at 6-8 and Herst, Butler and Hensley at 6-6.

Four-on-four basketball

Baltimore's first-annual four-on-four half-court basketball tournament, to benefit the homeless, will be held July 23-24 and July 30-31 at Herring Run Park.

The entry fee is $75 per team, with entrants being asked to bring a canned good and/or clothing.

For more information, call Dave Webb at (410) 806-8892, or (410) 243-3880.

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