One of the biggest surprises at the Howard County track championships last Wednesday and Thursday was the performance of Wilde Lake's Andrew Sterling in the 100- and 200-meter sprints.
Sterling, a junior who ran for Oakland Mills last season, upset Kyle Farmer of Oakland Mills, a freshman who was top-seeded in both events. Sterling also ran on the winning 1,600-meter relay team, as the Wildecats scored 185 points to outdistance the runner-up Scorpions (99 points).
"People doubted me, and I had to show them," said Sterling, who comes from a strong track background. "I came to run and get my medals, no matter what the weather. But the most important thing was our winning the county title, the first since 1973."
Sterling ran 10.9 seconds in the wet 100 championship race Thursday, following a 10.8 in the dry semifinals Wednesday. He also ran 22.5 in the 200 Wednesday but only 22.8 Thursday.
"All my family is from Jamaica, and my dad ran a 10.5 in the 100 in high school, so I'm a little behind him, but 10.5 is my goal for next season," he said.
In the 100, Sterling defeated Iron Man Award winner Chris Smith of Long Reach, who was third, and Farmer, who was a close second. Smith and Farmer both were clocked at 10.9.
"There was lots of competition in the 100 with Chris Smith, who gets out so quickly that you have to catch him, and Farmer, who is a strong freshman," Sterling said.
Sterling praised his sprint coach, Errick Henlon.
"He told me early this season that he thought I could run a 10.7," Sterling said. "I almost did -- and still might this season.
"I'm really excited. This is the first county championship I've ever contributed to big-time. We have lots of seniors, and this was for all those seniors who will be moving on. I wouldn't have been happy with my personal performance if we hadn't won the team title."
Sterling, also a basketball player, faces a tough decision next winter.
"I've never run indoor track," he said. "But now I have to think about it."
Injuries seemed to be one of the hottest topics at the county track championships. They seemed to hit distance runners hardest.
Atholton's Mike Zaron, the defending 800 champion, is still recovering from a pulled hamstring suffered early in the season. Zaron was the 800 and 1,600 state indoor champion.
Glenelg's Beth Santilli, the defending 3,200 county champ, missed the meet following several minor injuries from an automobile accident last weekend. She was the state 1,600 and 3,200 champion indoors.
Wilde Lake's Ben Coffman won the 1,600 county indoor title, but an injury sidelined him this week.
And Oakland Mills' Danielle Stoddart, who ran on the 3,200 relay team that set a county record of 9: 50 on Wednesday, developed soreness in one of her calves after finishing fifth in the 400 Thursday and pulled out of the meet. She would have run the 1,600 relay and the 800, for which she was one of the top seeds.
Oakland Mills' Kyle Farmer developed leg cramps Thursday and did not run the 200, in which he was favored.
Girls vault record
Atholton's Tenisha Chester set meet and county records in the pole vault by clearing 9 feet, 6 inches, beating her old meet record of 8-6 and county record of 9-2 1/4 . This was only the second season for girls pole vault.
Depth tells the tale
Wilde Lake's boys won the team championship with a remarkable 185 points but only four individual titles.
The Wildecats won with depth -- 75 boys are on the team. That's why they could win three of the four relays and place in every event but the pole vault.
Their roster was larger than the rosters of second-place Oakland Mills and two teams that tied for third place, Hammond and Long Reach, combined.
High-jump winners related
Wilde Lake's Julie Bergin won the girls high jump at 5-0, and Mount Hebron's Bobby Bergin won the boys high jump at 6-2. Yes, they are related -- cousins.
The boys 800 relay was run on Wednesday but had to be rerun on Thursday because of confusion with the lane markings that caused some teams to be unfairly disqualified.
The controversy was compounded when referee Earl Lauer ruled that Wilde Lake, which won the event by a wide margin on Wednesday, did not have to compete in the rerun Thursday.
That prompted a protest from Hammond, which won the Thursday rerun and thought it should have been declared the champion.
The jury of appeals upheld Lauer's decision.
At every county meet, young performers seem to step from the shadows into the sunlight.
River Hill freshman Lee McDuff and Long Reach sophomore Cynthia Nicholls were two such stories.
McDuff, a soccer player, had never run before indoor season. But at this week's championships, she won the 1,600 and 3,200 with personal-best times, finished second in the 800, and ran on the third-place 3,200 relay team.
Her 1,600 victory over defending county champ Michelle Smith of Wilde Lake was a thing of beauty. McDuff was right behind Smith for most of the race. Then the freshman made her move on the senior on the final turn and pulled away.
"If I can stay with them, I can out-kick anyone," McDuff said.
Nicholls won the long jump, triple jump, and 400 relay. She was second in the 300 hurdles to Thema Napier, who last Monday accepted a full track scholarship to Maryland.
Last summer, Nicholls was long-jumping only 14 feet. Thursday she jumped 17-1.
"I just got faster since then," she said.
Pub Date: 5/13/98