Coppin's spotlight on Roberts Among 4 awards, runner is Male Athlete of Year


Former Baltimore Colts great and NFL Hall of Famer Lenny Moore was the guest speaker.

Coppin State senior basketball stars Antoine Brockington and Danny Singletary were honored for outstanding careers that took the school to unprecedented heights.

But it was sophomore track standout Ian Roberts who stole the show recently at Coppin's athletic awards banquet at the Marriott Inner Harbor.

Roberts received four standing ovations from the crowd as he walked proudly to the head table for four awards, including the school's Male Athlete of the Year honor.

After the final ovation, Roberts said: "I want to be Coppin's first Olympic athlete."

That comment drew even more cheers, and the native of Georgetown, Guyana, broke out in a wide grin that topped off the evening.

Roberts became Coppin's first men's track All-American last winter when he finished sixth in the 800 meters in the NCAA indoor championships with a time of 1 minute, 50.78 seconds.

He holds the school and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference 800 indoor records at 1: 48.49, which he ran twice this year.

Roberts also won the MEAC outdoor 800 title this year, broke a school indoor record in the 1,000 (2: 30.16) and was a member of the 4x400 relay team that broke school indoor (3: 11.03) and outdoor (3: 10.32) marks.

Adding to an amazing year in a first season of organized track for Roberts, he has qualified provisionally in the 800 for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., June 3-6.

The Coppin Female Athlete of the Year award went to freshman Liesha Mitchell, who was the only first-year player to make the All-MEAC basketball first team. Mitchell led the Eagles in scoring with 14.8 points a game, assists with 3.9 and steals with 2.9.

Backof did it all

George Dix, Western Maryland College's women's softball coach, discovered a real gem in his backyard four years ago when Westminster High second baseman Julie Backof decided to become a Green Terror.

Backof not only led Western Maryland to its first NCAA Division III softball tournament appearance this season with a 27-9 record, but also was a second-team Division III All-American after earning first-team Division III honors last season.

This season, Backof hit .464 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. She had a .955 slugging percentage, 51 hits, 44 runs, nine doubles, six triples, 23 walks, 105 total bases and a .548 on-base percentage in 110 at-bats.

Those lofty stats helped Backof set six school career records, including 31 home runs, 155 RBIs, .895 slugging percentage, 357 total bases, 184 hits and 154 runs scored.

She was chosen Centennial Conference Player of the Year as a junior and senior.

Salisbury run ends

An impressive effort by the Salisbury State women's softball team that earned the school its first berth in the eight-team, NCAA Division III World Series ended last week with losses to defending champion Simpson (Iowa) and this year's titlist, Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Salisbury had opened the double-elimination tournament with a victory over Bridgewater (Mass.) State.

The Sea Gulls finished the season with a 36-10 record.

Jenifer is a catch

When Loyola College landed Mervo's 6-foot guard, Damien Jenifer, last week, it was a major breakthrough on the local recruiting scene for second-year basketball coach Dino Gaudio.

Jenifer was a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro pick who averaged 22.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 7.9 steals last season while leading Mervo to its first Class 4A regional championship.

"Damien has the ability to be an impact player of the highest level," Gaudio said.

Pub Date: 5/22/98

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