Bill Hickey may be new to Old Mill's indoor track team but the first-year coach is very familiar with the program's success.
And eager to see that it continues.
"Our girls look real strong," said Hickey, who inherits a girls team that has won 12 straight county championships. "I think we have what it takes to win No. 13, but it's not going to be a cakewalk."
Old Mill's boys learned that lesson the hard way last season when Meade denied them their seventh straight county crown. The Patriots are anxious to get the title back but whether they have the talent or numbers to overcome Meade and upstart North County will be determined early next year inside the walls of Baltimore City's Fifth Regiment Armory.
Of Old Mill's four All-County selections last season, only junior Jackie Allen returns. Allen will try and defend her county title in the 55-meter dash and attempt to improve on her third-place state finish in the pole vault.
Nakia Johnson, an All-Metro triple jumper last spring, will run sprints along with fellow-senior Tynisha Armstead, who missed last season with an illness after emerging as region champ in the 400 as a sophomore.
Old Mill's boys lost All-County shot putters Balvin Brown and Adam Trzybinski to graduation but have a pair of proven throwers in seniors Anthony Snukis and Chris Wiley.
Here's a look at the rest of the county teams:
Panthers coach Mike Ballard is hoping the county's defending cross country champion, Misha Bilyeu, will still be in his lineup when the 12 county schools put it all on the line at the Fifth Regiment Armory.
Bilyeu is scheduled to move to Belgium with her military family in early January, but the date continues to get pushed back, giving Ballard hope.
"Our girls team finished second in the county last year but a lot depends on when Misha leaves," said Ballard. "If Misha leaves, there goes 20 points."
Once Bilyeu is gone, the bulk of the pressure will be placed on Anne Handel, who finished fifth in the states last year in the high jump. Any additional slack will have to be picked up by Kelly Acker (500), Robin Mincher (800), Kaye Powell (high jump), Christine Mowrey (1,600) and Kienda Simmons (sprints).
Ballard is building a sprint unit around senior captain Albert Creek and sophomore Sonny Barnes. Juniors Carlos Luceno and Andy Rogers will represent the Panthers in the dashes. Ken Houston (pole vault) and Brian Bland (hurdles) will also contribute.
First-year coach J.P. Hines has modest goals for the Wildcats during his inaugural season.
"We should be OK," said Hines, who took the reigns from current assistant coach Ira Queen. "We're young but we'll be all right."
The Wildcats are in decent shape on the boys side with distance runners Ben Baxter and Chris Dyer and shot putters Seth Rollins and Jason Thompson all capable of picking up some big points.
Mike Brady and Kori Williams will try to establish themselves in the sprints, and Nate Malli and Adam Cohen will continue to reach for new heights in the pole vault.
Arundel's girls team should be strong in the field events, especially in the shot put where a healthy, intersquad battle exists between Meghan Shepard, Becky Carlson and freshman Meg Dentler.
Mandy Shultz, one of the Wildcats' many talented distance runners, will try her luck in the pole vault this winter. Amanda Rahorn, the Wildcats' most decorated harrier, will be joined in the distance events by teammates Mindy Thompson, Sara Sayani and Jen Tisdale.
Markisha Bennett and Dawn Belt are sprinters and are being challenged by newcomers Roxanne Hall, a transfer from Chicago, Nishira Rawls, and Abria Queen, the daughter of the assistant coach.
Bruins first-year coach Dana Dabbs believes his "aggressive training philosophy" will improve Broadneck's chances while competing at the county, region and state levels.
"The whole program has seen a radical change in the philosophy of the coaching staff," said Dabbs, a longtime assistant at Severna Park and former field events coach for Gallaudet University. "I'm not one of these laid-back coaches and the kids know that. They've accepted the challenge and are ready to rise to the occasion."
Mike Rolland, the defending Class 2A-3A East region champion in the 800, is back and the junior is ready to tackle the middle- and long-distance events.
Jared Nagowski and Hector Colon will handle the high jumping duties for Broadneck's boys while Walt Wagner (shot put) and Dorian Watkins (pole vault) try to make names for themselves in the field events.
Broadneck's girls team will rely heavily on distance runners Amanda Schmidt and Gretchen Oaksmith and on the legs of sprinters Erin Scheide, Sarah Haines and Sarah Holt.
"It's a dedicated, hard-working group," said Dabbs. "What more can I ask for?"
With a new coach, Tammy Maroney, and a team with twice as many members as last season, things appear on the upswing at Chesapeake. Maroney, who served as an assistant coach for the Cougars the last two seasons, will build both the boys and girls teams around their sprint relays.
Norman Adkins, Charles Owens and newcomer Jermaine McDowell will lead the Cougars in the shorter races while Adam Bange, Eric Silita and Chad Johnson represent the team in the middle- and long-distance events.
Expected to help out in the field events are shot putters Tim Reed and Lars Nyvik and pole vaulter Jarrett Aldright.
Melissa Garner and Jenny Jorde will pace the Cougars' girls team in the middle distances and teammates Chrissy Franklin and Jessica Jones have both shown promise in the sprints.
What the Gophers lack in numbers they make up for in individual talent. Glen Burnie's most promising individual is Katie Sloan, last fall's county cross country Runner of the Year.
Sloan, an All-County performer last winter as a sophomore, is the early favorite in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs. Other standouts for Glen Burnie include Susan Sperduto (shot put), Danielle King (pole vault) and sprinters Delrhea Godwin and Jackie Ryan.
"They are all juniors so I will have them back again next year," said Gophers coach Aaron Walker. "I like the progress I saw last year and if they continue to proceed the way they are, they will do real well by their senior year."
Among the bright spots on Glen Burnie's boys team are sprinters Awais Akbar, Sharise Magruder and Ezell Stubbs and junior hurdler Demario Mitchell.
The Mustangs boys team, which denied Old Mill its seventh consecutive county title last winter, will have to defend its title without Malcolm Vaughan, last year's indoor Performer of the Year.
Meade's girls are trying to regroup after the graduation of its marquee athlete, Michelle June. Despite the key departures, Meade coach Hayes Henderson believes both of his teams return enough talent to stay in the hunt at the county championship meet.
"I can't say we'll repeat until I see where the kids hearts are," said Henderson. "They look good. If they're not afraid of everyone, they'll do well, too."
Malwan Johnson, who Henderson calls "the glue that holds the team together," will run the middle distances and should get help in scoring from Edmund Carazo (hurdles, high jump), Anthony Wise (sprints) and All-County cross country Runner of the Year John Thomas (distance).
The only two returnees for Meade girls are Andrea Misher (sprints) and Tai Bruton (hurdles, sprints).
The Knights lost the heart and soul of its team, Kiki Ellis, to graduation and Frostburg State but don't start feeling too sorry for them just yet. Sprinters Tyrone Powers, Otis James and Mardy Mahoney are all back and ready to prove that last spring's county outdoor title was no fluke.
Brad Wisniewski gives North County veteran coach Ed Harte an added dimension in the middle and long distance events and Harte hopes to pick up a few more points from pole vaulter Rob Mackin.
"It's a typical North County team, strong in the speed events," said Harte, whose boys finished second to Meade during the last indoor season. "For us to be successful this year, Powers and Mahoney have to come up big and Wisniewski has to have a good year."
Senior speedsters Jessica Pratt and Sarah Zaruba return for North County's girls team and both will be making the move up from the sprints to the middle distances.
"It's best for them and it's best for their future if they move up now," said Harte.
Amy Jacobs, who Harte says is an "outstanding athlete," will represent the Knights in the sprints, as well as the hurdles and pole vault.
Kiki Ellis' younger sister, Tinishia, will run sprints and hurdles for North County along with teammates Linda Park and Amanda Stevens. Kelsey Scheitlin gives the Knights a distance runner.
A turnout of more than 60 athletes has given Tom Clowes reason to be optimistic.
Jason Hilton (3,200 run and relay), Joe Rothgeb (800 relay, 55 dash) and Tommy Foster (1,600 relay) are Clowes' most promising male athletes.
On the girls side, he's expecting big things from Amanda McIntyre and Tara Miller -- both in the 300 dash -- and Beth Schmitz in the 55 hurdles.
"Our girls team is still thin in numbers but we have some talent," said Clowes. "I see progress being made every day. I think we will surprise some people this winter."
The Falcons bolstered their coaching staff by adding South River coaches Keith Bigalow and Brad Hill but whether that's going to help the Falcons girls stop Old Mill's streak is still a question.
As always, the Falcons are strong in the distance and middle distance events. Becky Chwan, Bonnie Sowa and Melissa Wallace, all members of Severna Park's state runner-up cross country team, will take their act indoors, filling in in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 runs and relays.
The Falcons boys team boasts a sound group of distance runners, including Bernie Edwards, Danny Allen, Jeremy Beall, Matt Ostrye, Sam Krehnbrink and Doug Enzler.
"We're looking to finish in the top three in the county for both the boys and girls," said Falcons coach Ed Purpura. "We have a lot of girls returning with experience. If everything goes right, I think we have a shot at winning the county title."
The Bulldogs may not have the numbers but they very well may have the county's No. 1 sprinter. Senior Ashley Wermine, an All-County selection last year in both soccer and indoor track, is back and ready to defend her county and Class 2A-3A region titles in the 500 dash.
Second-year coach Chris Bayliss has high hopes for his deep and talented girls team but will have to settle for individual achievement at best from his young and thin boys team.
Angela Groves, who became the first female county pole vault champion last winter after clearing a modest 8 feet, continues to soar to new heights both in the pole vault and the high jump.
Competing in the same events for the Seahawks on the boys side is Jon Higdon, who scored in last year's region and state meets.
Zandi Marinzel, a key member of the Seahawks cross country team, will run the distance events and teammates Jessica Beard and Heather Keating will both answer the bell for the high jump competition.
On the boys side, Justin Golliday and Richard Howard will cover the distances and Brett Versalge and freshman Nick Wilson will handle the hurdles.
The numbers continue to rise at Spalding, the only private school in the county that fields an indoor track team. The Cavaliers will compete in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Assocation (boys) and the Catholic League (girls) and will participate in some of the area's major invitationals, including Thursday's Pangaea Meet at the Fifth Regiment Armory.
"It's a big team, but it's still a pretty young team," said Cavaliers coach Andy Witte. "I'm excited about the season because we continue to improve each day. I look for us to shine, particularly in the mile and 3,200 relay, down the stretch."
The Cavaliers' boys team has a formidable foursome of middle-distance runners in Mark Cunningham, Jason King, Jay Broglie and Pat Blair. The girls team is led by distance runners Kelly Zuknick and Catherine Wood, sprinter Racehlk Gaes (300 dash, 1,600 relay) and Alicia Hogan (shot put).
Pub Date: 12/07/97