A one-year honeymoon at the top of the pack in Carroll County girls track and field competition ended yesterday for Francis Scott Key.
The 1A Eagles were struck down by a combination of injuries to top performers Stacey Greene and Carrie Ryer and a disqualification in the final event (1600-meter relay), enabling 4A Westminster to return to the championship circle in the county girls meet at Western Maryland College.
The Owls, led by Kim Spencer and Sherry Esposito, took first with 104 points to 95 for the Eagles.
Westminster had won five straight county girls titles before being blitzed, 123-88, by Key last year in the county championships.
The Westminster boys waltzed off with their 17th consecutive county track and field championship, scoring 152 points to 120 for Key.
The Owls boys were led by Mike Recek, Nate Shank, Jason Safely and David Reazin.
Until 10 days ago when Greene (hurdler and relay runner) went down with a torn sartorius muscle, it looked as if the Eagles
would make it two straight without too much trouble yesterday.
There were still high hopes that Key might be able to nip Westminster for the title without Greene, but those hopes dimmed when top sprinter and triple jumper Carrie Ryer was declared out of the meet due to a possible stress fracture in her foot.
Key suddenly was missing two girls who can combine for more than 30 points on an average day in addition to running on several winning relay teams.
But the Eagles showed just how much talent and depth they have, battling the Owls on nearly even terms entering the final two relays (400 and 1600).
Westminster was clinging to a 90-89 lead and ran the margin to 98-95 after winning the 400 relay by 3/10ths of a second over Key.
Then it was all down to the 1600 relay where the Eagles needed to finish first and hope for Westminster to do no better than third.
But an over-anxious Key team was disqualified by a false start.
Westminster would finish second (six points) in the 1600.
Westminster assistant girls coach Michelle Salafia-Crouse said: "It's a shame for Key to have to run without Greene and Carrie Ryer but it doesn't take anything away from our victory. It's who you can put out there on the track that counts. We've had people hurt at different times this season and couldn't run."
Salafia-Crouse praised Spencer (first in 100-meter --) and Esposito (800 winner) for their "top performances."
"The majority of our girls are proud of what we did today," said Key coach Angie Green. "We're happy with our performance in the face of all the injuries we have."
On the boys side, Key coach Rich Salkin said his team did as well as can be expected in its run for the top spot against the powerful Owls.
"Our kids came out here today and laid it on the line against a big school like Westminster," said Salkin. "The new kids came through for us as well as we could expect and the veterans like Steve Wright did what they were supposed to."
Wright won the high jump with a leap of 6-4.