Severna Park's Sakalas puts strong start on ice

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Severna Park grad Jon Sakalas is off to a great start as a freshman forward on the Division III Iona College ice hockey team in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Sakalas was named ECAC South Rookie of the Week recently after recording four goals and seven assists in the Gaels' first eight games. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Sakalas is third on his team in scoring and scored the game-winner in 9-4 victory over Wentworth Institute in his second college game.

Iona recruited Sakalas out of the American Frontier Hockey League, where he skated for the Vail (Colo.) Avalanche. The AFHL is a breeding ground for college prospects and Sakalas went out to Vail upon graduating from Severna Park High in 1994.

"The Avalanche team I was on would beat Iona and lot of college teams we play," said Sakalas, who at home for Christmas break. "There is a big difference in Division III and Division I hockey.

"At this level we have a couple guys who could play up there, but they're all good at Division I. Playing in Vail, really helped me to get ready for college hockey," he said.

Anne Arundel County does not have a high school league for hockey, so Sakalas learned the sport at Benfield Pines and went on to play for the Washington Little Caps.

Sakalas earned a spot at the Lake Placid Select 17 Camp in the summer of '94 after starring for the Little Caps with 56 goals and 60 assists as team captain.

At the holiday break, Sakalas has five goals and seven assists for the Gaels.

Sakalas is another example of a local athlete finding a place to play his favorite sports in college despite not having the opportunity in high school because their sport wasn't offered.

Arundel High's Debbie Chute and Caitlin O'Brien of Broadneck earned spots on the UMBC women's swimming team. Their hard work and determination in local recreation programs have them participating in collegiate sports.

Chute is a junior diver while, O'Brien is a freshman who swims the 200-meter breaststroke.

Top flight gymnasts

Severna Park 10-year-old Tara Lancaster posted her best finish, fifth all-around with a score of 35.40 for Top Flight Gymnastics in the Judge's Regional Compulsory Classic held in Manassas, Va., last weekend.

Lancaster, the daughter of Bucky and Robin Lancaster, was second on the vault (9.35), seventh in the uneven bars (8.55) and ninth in the floor exercise (8.95) as Top Flight took second place in the Level 6 competition.

One of Lancaster's teammates, Keri Farrish of Baltimore was third all-around (35.70).

Sports sprints

Today's boys' indoor track poll is no mistake with Meade ranked ahead of perennial county contender Old Mill.

Congrats to Meade's fourth-year indoor track coach Hayse Henderson, who has his Mustangs ranked No. 2 behind Mervo in The Sun poll after a stunning 56-50 upset of No. 3 Perry Hall in last week's Baltimore Metro Indoor Track Invitational at Catonsville Community College.

All-County football defensive back Damion Moss personally accounted for 26 of the Mustangs' points by taking first in the high jump and seconds in the 45-yard -- and 45 high hurdles.

Old Mill finished third with 40 points and is ranked No. 4 in the poll.

Broadneck coach Ken Kazmarek said Saturday night after his Bruins' 59-44 season-opening loss to No. 3 Calvert Hall that he expects 6-foot-3 senior forward Renardo Walker, who is recovering from arthroscopic surgery to play by the Jan. 3 game at No. 6 Annapolis. . . . Annapolis coach John Brady is hoping 6-7 junior forward, Brian Barber, who has been out with pneumonia since the Panthers' 60-58 victory over Dunbar, will be back on the court next week for the Capital City Classic. . . . The Dennis Rodman influence has struck No. 15 Glen Burnie team. Several of the Gophers, who shaved their heads and wore head bands on occasion last season, were sporting redish hair at Annapolis last week. . . . In case you missed it, John Barbour of Northeast (2-2) has become the fifth county boys coach to lose 200 or more games and Old Mill's Paul Bunting cracked 100 losses recently. Barbour is 170-201 in his 16th season and Bunting is 124-101 in his 11th campaign. The other four with 200 or more losses: Glen Burnie's Terry Bogle (282-317), Southern's Tom Albright (438-252), Butch Young (390-246) of Meade and South River's Kenny Dunn (179-203).

Pasadena resident Hal Sparks will be inducted into the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches on Feb. 23 at Camden Yards. Sparks led Mount St. Joseph to several MSA baseball championships back in the '70s.

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