To say that Old Mill has dominated Anne Arundel County track and field over the past two decades is a vast understatement.
The Patriots have ruled the sport and they have 29 county championships to prove that there are no term limitations.
"They're still the top dogs," said North County coach Ed Harte, who is excited to show off the Knights' recently completed athletic facilities. "But, we're the new dogs. We've come on the scene this year."
Whether the Knights can stop Old Mill's boys team from winning its eighth straight county title or the Patriot girls from claiming their 15th county crown is yet to be seen.
But if the tightly contested indoor season was any indication of how far North County's program has come, Old Mill could find itself in a nip-and-tuck race when the 12 county public schools meet at Annapolis High on May 11 for the Anne Arundel County Championships.
"On the boys side, we're talented but thin so we're going to have to get more out of the kids we have," said Old Mill coach Ron Evans, whose team will open the season with a dual meet Wednesday at Westminster.
"We have more depth on the girls side so we should be competitive, but right now it's hard to pick who will go further."
Old Mill's boys contingent, which won the region but finished second at the states last season, is led by senior Delvell Johnson and junior Richard Queen -- both state champions indoors.
Johnson, the Class 4A indoor state champion in the high jump, will compete in the high jump, long jump and triple jump while Queen, the indoor state champ in the 55-meter dash, will run the 100 and 200 dashes outdoors, as well as the 100 hurdles.
Chris Long and Ron Chapman will represent the Patriots in the distances, and Isaac Beard, Joey Blount and Randy Copeland round out the Pats' top sprinters.
In the field events, where Old Mill is notorious for picking up points, Adam Trzybinski, a 6-foot-10, 315-pound sophomore, will toss the shot put. Senior Eric Voss will pole vault and senior newcomer Sae Ro will throw the discus.
The Patriots girls squad, which also finished as runner-up at last year's state meet, boasts two-time state champion Martise Moore, a versatile athlete who can sprint, hurdle or long jump. Moore is joined by senior Kristin Wimbrow, the defending indoor and outdoor state champ in the high jump, and Renita Collins, county indoor champ in the shot put.
Sarah Kirby gives the Patriots depth at the high jump and Cathy Porter provides Old Mill with a shot putter capable of winning another state title. Rounding out Old Mill's talented girls team are Erica Davis, Jenny Porter, Sarah Meehan, Jessica Davis, Katie Mack and Dorian Lee.
North County, which always has had the sprinters, now has the numbers to complement its speed. The Knights male sprinting corps includes Topper and Kiki Ellis, Toney Fowlkes and Danny Zavorka.
Fowlkes, who finished second in the states in the hurdles last season, will run them again this year along with John Pinkosz. Chris Connolly and Jason Pardoe will handle the middle distances and Rob Fuller and John Williams will throw the shot.
North County's girls team boasts two of the area's best sprinters in seniors Tamiko Mack and Kenda Johnson. Mack emerged as a triple-champion at the county indoor meet while Johnson established herself as Anne Arundel's premier female sprinter by winning the 55 dash.
Annapolis coach Brian Funk hopes to get the most out of Kristen Nicolini during her final high school sports season. Nicolini, who has been offered scholarships by both Auburn and Villanova, successfully defended her title in the mile run at the recent National Scholastic Championships in Syracuse, N.Y.
Alison Ross, who finished fifth in the states in the mile last season, will run the mile and the 800 and Kaleya Barnes, Alicia Watkins and Dina Brown will cover the middle distances.
Ian Ross (800 and 1,600), Tariq Galloway (400), Mike Krug (800 and 1,600) and Mike Parker (200 and 400) give the Panthers speed and depth. Charlie Reid and Monte Graves will throw the shot and discus and should improve under the tutelage of new assistant coaches Mike Flanagan (Naval Academy) and Angelo Wells, Annapolis' school record-holder in the shot put and discus.
"The boys team is going to be really good this year," said Funk. "We have a problem with depth on the girls side, but we have a lot of strong individuals that will score very well."
Arundel coach Ralph Luce isn't planning on dethroning Old Mill, but he has some athletes who could enjoy some success. Christy Nichols, who Luce said will "set people talking throughout the track world the next time she runs a five-mile race," should pick up some big points in the distances and Kamilia Brown is expected to help in the sprints.
Blair Morris and Chad Webber will run the distance events, and Shaun Mason, 6-feet-6 and 250 pounds, will represent the Wildcats in the shot put.
"We're going to have a fairly weak spring team," said Luce, who is still prowling the hallways at the Gambrills school looking for athletes. "We're stronger in the distances than indoors and weaker in the sprints. You can't do it with mirrors."
Gerald Kiple said he has "high hopes" that his Broadneck team will be able to compete with Old Mill, Arundel and North County. Kiple's optimism has a lot to do with the fact that he returns all four members of the Bruins' defending 3A state champion boys 400 relay team.
Jason Smith, who is headed for Rutgers on a football scholarship next fall, is the defending state champ in the 200 and was part of the 400 relay team that won county, region and state titles. The other returning members are Cory Ross, Sasan Sattari and Jeff Pugh.
Arundel's girls team is "young but gutty" and Luce expects some good things from sprinters Megan Bergess, Katie O'Neill, Melissa Bragg and Teddra Hyman, as well as his distance corps of Gretchen Oaksmith, Amanda Schmidt and Stephanie Hooper.
South River first-year coach Keith Bigelow likes his team's chances to win a region title, now that the Seahawks are in a district loaded with weaker Eastern Shore teams.
"We're shooting to win the girls and guys region titles," said Bigelow, who takes over for veteran Scott Baker. "We're in a weak region and we hope to win it."
To do that the Seahawks boys team is going to need quality performances from Adrian Newman (shot put and discus), Jason Berger (pole vault), James Knode (distance) and Jack Longley (distance).
South River's girls team is loaded with distance runners, including Erin Moorcones, Heather Mack, Colleen McLaughlin, Shannon Simmons, Jess King and Emily Gwynn. Jen Smith and Sara Wood will compete in the high jump and Angie Groves will run the sprints.
Frank Norcross and Paul Mathieu will run the distance events for a Severna Park squad that lacks the numbers to compete with the top 4A teams in the county.
The Falcons girls team, which also lacks depth, boasts some promising distance people in Leslie Tate, Kim Schwan and Erica Krajnik, and Angie Jennings should give Severna Park something to cheer about in the hurdles.
First-year Chesapeake coach Bill Hickey, who takes over from mentor John Gray, said he has no idea what his team can do. The Cougars are young and untested but have two of the county's top distance runners in Ryan and Stephanie Stevens.
Ryan, a senior who emerged as state champ indoors in the 1,600, is back for his final season. Stevens is a junior.
Glen Burnie has the numbers with 32 boys but the Gophers' experience level is down.
"We have a lot of new faces," said Glen Burnie coach Aaron Walker. "I like what I see."
Walker is looking to Hanz Geineder (pole vault), Chuck Krick (distance), Jeremy Emerson (hurdles), Airess Hunter (sprints and hurdles) to carry the Gophers boys team, and he expects Missy Hennessey (400 and 800), Kaleesha Jackson (hurdles), Jenny Farmer (high jump), Syreea McRae (sprinter), Becky McDivitt (distance) and Kristy Klima (distance) to anchor Glen Burnie's girls.
With only four seniors on his entire team and none of them girls, Meade coach Hayse Henderson said he isn't looking for anything extraordinary.
"We're thin and young, very young," said Henderson. "I'm just hoping they run well."
Bernard Gaither, Malcolm Johnson and Damion Moss will anchor the Mustangs boys team and Michelle June, a quarter-miler and high jumper, looks to be Meade's most promising female.
Northeast coach Tom Clowes, who will share head coaching duties with Joe Brockmeyer, doesn't see his Eagles soaring very high.
"It's going to be a tough year with such a small team," said Clowes, who only has four boys on his team, including Jason Thompson, John Blunt and Ray Gaskins.
Marcia Gaskins, a long jumper, and Susan Wheeler, a two-miler, are Northeast's most promising female athletes.
After failing to field a track team last spring, Southern is back, now under the direction of Tyrone Neal Sr., the school's wrestling coach.
Neal will coach a team of 20, which includes his son Tyrone Jr. and daughters Tyra and Tiffany.