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Anne Arundel County indoor track preview Depth makes Old Mill the team to beat in both boys and girls divisions

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Depth is the name of the game in winning county indoor track championships and depth is what makes Old Mill annually the squad to beat.

The Patriots girls are just about a lock as their 13 consecutive county titles and 19 overall attest. The Old Mill boys returned to the top last season with their seventh title in eight years to make it a clean sweep.

Old Mill's boys fell to third place and were dethroned by Meade in the 1996-97 season after a string of six straight county championships.

"I don't like to make predictions, but I would assume it will be us, Glen Burnie and Annapolis in the girls, and us, Meade and North County in the boys, " said veteran Old Mill assistant Leon K. Walters, who coaches the distance runners for second-year head coach Bill Hickey.

Coach Ed Purpura's Severna Park girls (57 on the team) could be the sleeper in the girls' race.

The Old Mill girls can take sole possession of second place for consecutive county titles, all sports -- boys and girls -- included, by winning their 14th straight this winter.

Severna Park's field hockey team tied the Patriots indoor team with their 13th straight this fall and set a county record with its 20th overall.

However, both the Patriots indoor and outdoor girls track teams can match the 20 with county championships in their upcoming seasons.

Old Mill's outdoor girls, many of whom compete indoors, own the county record for consecutive championships in all sports with 18 in a row from 1981 to 1998.

The girls indoor track squad returns two All-County performers in senior Jackie Allen and junior Heather Segraves, both 4.0 grade-point average students. Allen set a county record (7.0) in winning the 55-dash championship last year at Baltimore's Fifth Regiment Armory.

Allen was the Pats' leading scorer, also pole vaulting and running a leg of the 800-meter relay team. Allen was a region champion in the pole after tying for fifth in the county meet.

Segraves, a distance runner, was second in the region 1,600-meter run and third in the county while taking third in the region 3,200 and fifth in the high jump. She also ran a leg on the 3,200 relay foursome.

Other key returning Patriots girls are senior Tenille Bynes (second county and region 55 hurdles), sophomore April Zebron (third region 800), junior Anne Hosey (fourth county pole vault) and senior Kelly Johnson (fifth county shot put).

The Sun's county boys performer of the year, Old Mill junior Victor Thillet is the defending county and region champion in the 1,600-meter run, and the defending state, region and county champion in the 3,200.

In the spring, Thillet captured the state gold medal in the 3,200 and took outdoor honors as performer of the year.

Thillet, who is 5-foot-4 and 115 pounds, is coming off a terrific summer in which he won a pair of national titles in the Amateur Athletic Union 16-and-under Junior Olympic Games in Norfolk, Va. He won both the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs.

The AAU national titles came after Thillet had taken third in both events at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Nationals in Seattle.

Joining Thillet as expected point contributors for the boys team are senior sprinter and All-County football wide receiver Brandon White (second county 300, 500 dashes, third region 500), junior pole vaulter Dan Liden (county co-champ) and juniors Tim Cooke (fourth region 3,200) and Joe Capri (sixth region 1,600).

The Old Mill boys appear to have a little more depth than usual with other promising senior performers in sprinters Greg Brown and Nick Dolbin and shot putter Jermey Robinson.

Around the county, Glen Burnie's Katie Sloan is the headliner after recently being named The Sun's girls cross country runner of the year.

Sloan, the county's premier distance runner, is working on her second straight triple crown after being named runner of the year all three seasons as a junior.

Last year during the winter indoor season, Sloan won state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs and is a likely bet to do it again for coach Aaron Walker.

Walker's Gophers girls have two other All-County senior performers returning to pose a threat to Old Mill's reign in shot putter Susan Sperduto and high jumper Del'Rhea Godwin.

Sperduto, an All-County volleyball setter as well, is a team captain who won the county in the shot put, was second in the region and fifth in the states. Her best toss was 35 feet, 6 inches.

Godwin was county and region champ in the high jump with a personal best 5 feet, 2 inches. She also was a member of the 4 x 200 relay team.

Other seniors expected to contribute are pole vaulter Danielle King, sprinter Arleaver Patton and hurdler Dietrich Curry.

The Gophers boys are thin on depth and need a few untested underclassmen to come through.

Here is a look at the other schools:

Annapolis: The Panthers also rank as a strong girls contender.

All-County sprinter Robyn Mincher is back with three other top seniors in high jumper Anne Handel, sprinter Ayana Shannon and hurdler Keli Acker.

"We can definitely compete with Old Mill because we are very deep and our role players know what they have to do," said third-year coach Mike Ballard, who is a 1985 graduate of Annapolis.

Mincher was last year's county champion in the 500-dash with a time of 1: 20.8 and she was also part of the 4 x 800 relay team.

Handel tied two others for the county's personal best (5-2) in the high jump last year while Shannon was a county champion in the 300 dash two years ago. Shannon blew a knee last year and didn't compete, but Ballard says she is back to form.

Ballard also expects help from a corps of underclassmen in junior Melissa Block (relays), sophomore Erin Masterson (800) and freshman Rachel Dalby ( distance).

On the boys side, the Panthers hope to be respectable with a trio of senior distance runners in Andy Rogers, Carlos Luceno and Ben Morris, junior sprinter/hurdler Sonny Barnes and Elkton High transfer, senior hurdler/high jumper Paul Comas.

"Our boys don't have the depth our girls do and will have to work very hard, " said Ballard.

Arundel: Ira Queen is the new Wildcats coach succeeding J.P. Hines, who had the job for a year before moving to Severna Park this fall as head football coach.

Queen, who was a sprinter at Arundel under Ron Evans during the '70's before Evans moved on to build a powerhouse at Old Mill, is also excited about his girls while he says his boys "shouldn't be too bad."

Senior Markisha Bennett, who was a triple winner at last spring's outdoor county championships to earn All-County honors, is the top returning Wildcat.

Bennett won the 100 dash (12.7), the 400 (1: 00.1) and ran a leg of the gold medal 400 relay team outdoors. Queen is hoping for an encore indoors.

"Our girls team could be very competitive with the top teams because for once they have some depth, " said Queen, who was an emergency Arundel coach a few years ago.

Other key girls should be sprinters, senior St. Louis transfer Lashera Dozier, junior Abria Queen (coach's daughter) and sophomores Nashira Rawls and Roxanne Hall.

Also, the Cats should get points from Becky Carlson (shot put), Elizabeth Harris (middle distance) and Amanda Rahorn (distance) and Eva Tukarski (hurdles).

The county's cross country runner of the year, Todd Warner, who won the county championship and was third in the states this fall, will be the leading distance runner. Fellow seniors Greg Wojtech (football player) and Chris Dyer will handle middle distance and Kori Williams the sprints.

Broadneck: County 500-meter run champion Mike Rolland returns for coach Dana Dobbs' boys team. Rolland won the county title in 1: 10.6 and ran a leg of the 4 x 800 relay team that was runner-up in both the county and region meets.

Also back for the Bruins are sprinter/high jumper Hector Colon and pole vaulter Dorion Watkins. The boys team was fourth in the county championships last year.

The top Bruins girls are all sprinters in seniors Sarah Holt and Sarah Haines and junior Erin Scheide. Scheide was a member of the Bruins' county third-best 3,200 relay team.

Chesapeake: Former Old Mill sprinter Skip Lee, who was a member of state champions in indoors and outdoors in the early '80's, is the new Cougars coach.

"I know what it takes to win," said Lee, who brings a new approach to Lake Shore. "Hopefully, the difficult workouts I've been putting the athletes through will transcend into success.

"I'm really pleased so far and will know more after Tuesday [meet at Armory today]."

Lee has been impressed with senior distance man Adam Bange and juniors, sprinter Dominic Lewis and shot putter Justin Reed. Freshman Jamie Bowerman (distance) and sophomore John Mandley (shot put) will contribute.

On what is a young girls team, senior Emma Bryson (sprints), junior Pam Hemmings (distance) and sophomore Courtney Jones (distance) are showing potential.

Meade: Veteran Mustangs coach Hayse Henderson is annually optimistic about his boys team, and with a turnout of 40 girls, he is also optimistic about the other half of his squad.

The Meade boys will be led by a pair of All-County football players in Edmund Carazo and Andrew Smith. Carazo is defending county champion in the high jump while Smith will be one of the county's top sprinters.

All-County as a junior, Carazo had a county best 6-2 in the high jump and was a county and region runner-up in the 55-meter hurdles. Carazo also is a member of the Mustangs' 1,600-meter relay team.

Smith, who has been offered a full football scholarship to Maryland to play defensive back, is expected to run the 55 dash and the 300, along with legs of two relays.

Senior Anthony Wise will contribute in much the same way, running the 300 and 500 in addition to joining Smith on the relays.

Meade also has three capable junior distance runners in Matt Lewis, Quinton Roberts and David Thomas. With shot putter Robert Dutton switching to wrestling, Henderson is working with the Savage brothers, Olumide and Yani, plus Leon Jones to fill that void.

"Our boys should do well, and be right up there again, " said Henderson, whose boys were third last year after winning it the year before.

"As for the girls, let's say I've been encouraged with the turnout, but it's a very young team. We do have one girl who could be the best in the state."

Henderson was referring to senior sprinter Andrea Misher, whose best time of 7.1 last year in the 55 dash was topped only by Old Mill's Jackie Allen, who had a 7.0.

Another projected standout is senior 500-meter runner Liz Roberts.

North County: Coach Ed Harte's Knights were runners-up in the boys championships last year, but may be hard pressed to duplicate that finish while his girls are very young.

"Graduation hit us pretty good, but of course, everybody goes through it, " said Harte. "I believe we've got a couple very good sprinters and a top notch-pole vaulter."

The sprinters are senior Eddie Mackell, junior Chris Scott, who also runs hurdles, and sophomore Sean Freshwater. Mackell won outdoor region titles last spring in the 100 and 200 dashes, and was second in the states in the 100.

Rob Mackin is the pole vaulter and he won the county and region outdoor championships last spring with a personal best of 11-6.

Senior Tinisha Ellis is a key sprinter along with junior Erin Stallings, who will also handle middle distance.

Junior Linda Parks (hurdles, pole) and sophomores Kelsey Scheitlin (distance) and Shannon Cofiel (hurdles) will compete.

Northeast: The Eagles lost their coach, Tom Clowes, a couple days before the start of practice when the latter took a job with the State Department. A.D. Roger Stitt was scrambling to hire a coach and hoped to have one by yesterday.

Distance runners Roger Barr and Amanda McIntyre are back.

Severna Park: The Falcons' experienced girls team could be very competitive.

"The team goal for our boys is to finish in the top three and we

will be happy, but the girls have me very optimistic, " said Falcons coach Ed Purpura.

"We have 57 girls, unusual speed for our team, normal distance runners and, if we can score some points in the high jump and hurdles, we could be right there."

Junior Kim Friday, who was county outdoors champion in the 200 in her first season of track, and freshman Liz Funk, who was All-County for the Falcons' state championship cross country team this fall, are main cogs.

Other top Falcons will be Lindsey Naumann (leads off relays), distance runners Jenna Nugent and Rachel Jacobs, high jumper Jen Bornman and Jen Cielewich, who missed last season with injuries after winning the mile in the region two years ago.

All-County pole vaulter Matt Sansbury, who also ran a leg on the 3,200 relay; 800 county outdoors champ Bernie Edwards; distance runners Justin Marvel and Matt Ostrye and relay runners Jeremy Beall, Tyghe Trimble and Eric Myhill pace the boys.

Basketball defector Tony Dokoupil, who was an All-Metro baseball outfielder last spring, is showing a lot of promise as a sprinter.

South River: The bulk of the Seahawks returnees is on the girls side for second-year coach Chris Bayliss. Bayliss, who was a distance runner at Morgan State, has an experienced group of distance runners.

"We've got the biggest indoor squad in South River history with 45 boys and 42 girls, " said Bayliss, whose teams were second in their 2A regions last year.

Among the returnees are seniors Linda Jack and Carolyn Colacicco and juniors Erin Johnson, Abby Johnson, Zandi Marinzel and Kristin Marion. Also back are three junior sprinters in Meredith Barry, Jessica Beard and Nancy Tucker.

The top boys should be senior Jason Golliday, who was second in the 200 and 400 outdoors; junior sprinter Ryan Miller; junior sprinters/hurdlers Bret Verslage and Mark Howard; and sophomore pole vaulter Nick Wilson.

Southern: Southern was never known for its track teams until Brian Brown, who has coached basketball and football at a couple county schools, took over in Harwood three years ago.

Brown's indoor track team showed a lot of improvement last winter, and then the outdoor Bulldogs stunned everyone by finishing second to North County in the Anne Arundel championships. They also finished second in the region and 2A states and Brown was named county coach of the year.

The coach is hoping his indoor teams can show the same kind of improvement. The boys team has three solid senior sprinters in Antwon Jones, Michael Hull and Randy Salisbury.

All-County Ashley Wermine, who posted the county's best indoor time (1: 20.3) in the 500-meter run last year, graduated, but senior middle distance runner Maureen Carr and junior sprinter Keesha Collins return.

Carr, who was All-County in cross country after finishing second to premier runner of the year, Katie Sloan of Glen Burnie, in the county meet, should be among the county's best.

Collins will handle dashes and run a leg on the Bulldogs' 1,600-relay team that was third in the county last year.

NTC Archbishop Spalding: Former Loyola College runner Andy Witte earned county indoor track coach of the year honors last year after leading the second-year Cavaliers boys team to runner-up in the Catholic League championships.

While the boys lost All-County distance runner Mark Cunningham to graduation, the girls team returns three-season, All-County distance runner Kelly Zuknick.

Now a junior, Zuknick is coming off her first season in cross country, where she earned All-County honors for taking second in the AIS A division championships.

Zuknick was All-County indoors last winter as a tri-medal winner in the first Catholic League Championships for girls.

Pub Date: 12/08/98

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