Oakland Mills boys, Howard girls lead the pack Record performances could highlight season

THE BALTIMORE SUN

On paper, the Oakland Mills boys and the Howard girls track and field teams are the county's prohibitive favorites in an outdoor season that shows promise for record individual performances as well as an opportunity for one senior class to set a new standard.

Oakland Mills coach Sam Singleton has his ranked Scorpions boys team zeroing in on the rarest of prep feats a fourth straight Class 2A state title.

"Sure we've been a little bit lucky, but I've told our 15 to 20 seniors they have a chance to accomplish something so special by capturing a fourth state title," said Singleton.

With nine out of 15 of last year's all-county boys performers returning, strong competition could bring down a number of county track and field records.

Coach Joe Thomas' Howard girls squad is also seeking to add to its state title mantle in the '90s, having claimed crowns last year and in 1992. The Lions, who return the most individual county medalists, are not nearly as deep as last year's team.

Atholton boys coach Pat Saunderson, whose Raiders wound up No. 5 in last year's final poll after losing by a single point to Oakland Mills in the 2A state finals, will be paced by a senior trio of returning all-county performers. Atholton defeated Oakland Mills twice in three meetings during last year's regular-meet season.

Senior Max Clifford claimed a combined eight gold medals at the county, regional and state meets as a member of the Raiders relay teams. Jared Howard added three gold medals at the states, capturing the 400-meter title at the county and state levels. Finally, Zack Tropf earned six medals (five silver) in postseason a year ago, and is a county favorite in the 1,600 (state 2A indoor champion) and 3,200 events.

As for the Atholton girls, senior Dana Strickland will look to carry the Raiders while adding to her wealth of cross country and track awards as one of the area's premier long-distance runners. Noosha Haghani, Stacey Havard and Jessica Henry show track promise, while seniors Chrissy Frentz and Janine Duaberman (jumper, 800) will contribute points in the field events.

Centennial boys coach Al Dodds always manages to field strong long-distance runners and high jumpers, and this season is no exception. Senior Mike French, a two-time all-county cross country runner, captured the 3,200 at this year's Class 3A indoor state meet and added a silver medal in the 800. Junior Jeff Olenick, Dodds' No. 2 cross country runner, joins the squad after two years of lacrosse and will be a factor in the long-distance events.

French's senior classmate Tom O'Connor is the county favorite in the high jump, having finished first in the 3A indoor regionals with a jump of 6 feet, 5 inches and a bronze medal at the indoor finals. Junior Dave Johnson will contribute in the pole vault (12-0) and relays, senior Mike Cochrane in the shot put (46-0) and junior Ben Cosgrove in the hurdles.

Centennial's girls team, coached by Beth Brown, is led by junior twins Kristy and Kathy Mitroka (field events).

Glenelg's boys team is highlighted by record-smashing pole vaulter Pat Tvarkunas. The senior Gladiator has no peer in the county, having earned gold medals last year at the region and state championships while setting a new county outdoor mark of 14-6. This past indoor season, Tvarkunas set another record by clearing 15-1 and later cleared 15-9 to finish third at the Indoor Scholastic competition in Boston.

Junior Chris Selmer leads the Gladiators track brigade that includes junior Luke Reinke (middle distance), senior Luis Diaz (400, 800) and senior Chris Seymour (long distance). Selmer won the 800 at last year's Class 2A state meet in 1 minute, 57.16 seconds, having medaled in the event at the county and region levels.

"I see the outdoor season being similar to indoor in that will have trouble in the county meets because we don't have broad depth," said Gladiators boys coach Roger Volrath.

Glenelg's young girls team, the top indoor squad, features junior Katie Wise, sophomore Beth Santilli (distance), sophomore Leigh Bender (middle distance), and Megan Brown. Santilli, an All-County selection last season along with Wise, captured the 3,200 at the county indoor meet this year, upsetting Strickland of Atholton. The Gladiators' strength in the distance events will make meets with Howard and Wilde Lake extremely close.

Hammond's boys are again rebuilding, while the Golden Bears girls squad features senior sprinter Natasha Epps, sophomore all-county performer Thema Napier and Kim Keefe. Napier has shaken the rust from off-season knee surgery and will be a threat in the 400 and 800. Senior Becky Bays, an All-County indoor performer, will be the one to beat in the shot put (33-8 indoor county meet).

Coach Tony Holland's Howard boys are prepping with a grueling schedule of major invitationals that includes Bowie State, Norfolk State and the Penn Relays. On a team composed largely of freshmen and sophomores, senior Matt Anderson is being counted upon by Holland to be his "scoring machine" in the 400 and relays.

"He has the strongest heart of almost anyone I've ever coached," said Holland, who also is expecting points from junior Jeff Miner in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Although the Howard girls were hurt by the graduation losses of state champions Mona Jackson, Kym Moorehouse and Suzette Mullings, the Lions are aided by the return of Yamika Blackston (high, triple and long jump) from North Carolina. Two years ago, Blackston upset Jackson in the county long jump.

Howard's rush to the medal stand will be led by senior Donna Mullings, the Jamaica native who won county titles in the 200 and long jump. She earned three medals at the state finals, including a gold in the 400 relays. This past indoor season, Mullings captured top county honors in the 55-meter dash, the 300 and finished second in the 500 to earn Performer of the Year honors.

Junior All-County performer Coleen Parker will be tough in the 200, 400 and 800 events, and senior transfer Gianna Alston is the Lions' and perhaps the county's top female hurdler (100, 300) and a key member in the relays. Tamika Howard, who finished third in the county sprints and long jump events last season, returns along with senior shot putter Lisa Pasteur and junior Susan Mancho (100).

The Mount Hebron boys seek to find a replacement for county long jump champion and Vikings points leader Leonard Frieson, and the Vikings girls biggest competition one for athletes comes from Mount Hebron's highly successful lacrosse and softball teams.

Oakland Mills, fourth in last year's final poll, did lose Performer of the Year Greg Curtis as well as Anthony Howard and Ryan Hughes to graduation. But the bad news ends there for the Scorpions, who return three all-county performers from a year ago.

Senior Kyle Walker leads the Scorpions track contingent with county and regional titles already to his credit in the 110 (state title also) and 300 hurdles. Senior Brenden Kelly took home the gold in the 300 at the county indoor meet, and senior Steve Petro is a heavy favorite in the mile and two-mile events.

Joining Walker in the sprints and relay competition is junior Fardan Carter (100, 200, 400). Juniors T. J. Smith (middle distance), Mike Dusenberg and Stefan Moran (jumper) also are expected to contribute, according to Singleton.

"We may be deepest, however, at the shot put," Singleton said.

The Scorpions return the one-two senior punch of county champion Kevin Rondon (52- 1/2 ) and county shot put record-holder and Harvard-bound Brian Howard (55-1), who finished second at the state meet.

Oakland Mills girls team features senior Rachel Nelson (middle distance), junior Elyse Sames (sprints) as well as Sarah Nguyen, Lauren Drake and Justine Lutterodt.

Wilde Lake boys possess Performer of the Year candidate senior Faisal Hasan, who would like to add a 2A title in the 1,600 and 3,200 titles he won last year at the 1A state meet.

Wilde Lake, which finished second to Surrattsville in the indoor championships, also features Marc Baron, whom Singleton labels one of the county's top distance runners.

The Wildecats also will count on Keith Anderson, Aaron Blum, Paul Daddio and Eric Mcduffy, who placed fourth in states last year in long jump.

The Wilde Lake girls squad, also coached by Charlie Shoemaker, ended last season ranked No. 8 in the area's final poll and represent a real threat to Howard with the return of junior all-county performer Nyjla Littlejohn as well as junior middle distance runner Emily Scott.

Littlejohn, joined on the all-county indoor team by freshman Rosio Benevidez (high jump), is strong in the sprints and is the vital cog in the Wildecats relay teams.

Pub Date: 3/24/96

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