Though graduation has taken its toll on many teams throughout the metro area, this year's indoor track season shapes up as another battle between the area's traditional powers.
On the boys' side, Woodlawn appears to be in prime position to repeat in Baltimore County.
Defending champion City and Mervo will battle it out in Baltimore City, and two-time defending champion Mount St. Joseph will have its hands full with outdoor champion Calvert Hall in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Western appears once again to be the class of Baltimore City girls teams.
Two-time defending champion Catholic and challengers Mount de Sales and McDonogh will battle in the Catholic League.
Woodlawn, defending champion Dulaney, Perry Hall and Parkville will have at it in Baltimore County.
Here's a look at area teams:
Baltimore County public
A year after winning the Baltimore County, region and Class 2A-3A state titles, Woodlawn again appears the team to beat. Despite losing a number of talented seniors, coach Michael Sye's team returns a strong nucleus of sprinters and middle-distance performers.
Leading is senior Joel Brown, an All-Metro performer last spring and All-City/County pick last winter who was both the indoor and outdoor state champion in the 55-meter hurdles.
Also returning is junior Anthony Jenkins, sixth in the 500 at last year's state meet; junior Clevon Johnson, a threat in both the 800 and 1,600; and senior Mike Donaldson, a top sprinter who sat out last season after transferring from Catonsville.
"We're young, but success breeds success," said Sye, who graduated his top pole vaulter and high jumper. "These kids are very coachable."
Milford Mill, sixth in last year's Class 2A-3A state meet, looks to be the Warriors' chief competition. The Millers feature a corps of middle-distance standouts, seniors Derrick Stanfield (300-500), Marcus Lollar (500) and Bernardo Tubaya (800), as well as senior hurdler William Birkhead.
Tyrone Gholston, a transfer from Franklin and second-team All-City/County running back, will add a presence in the 55.
Dulaney, fifth in the Class 3A-4A state meet last winter, could challenge for the county title with its roster of distance and middle-distance standouts.
Senior Greg Vincent, an All-Metro talent who was the county champion in the 3,200 before taking second in the state in that event, losing by under a second, heads the list. He also ran a critical leg on the Lions' county champion 3,200 relay team.
Seniors Andy Gell and Stephen Wheatley will join Vincent in the distance events, and juniors Brett Harvey, Tim Makowske and Jeff Dyke in the 300-800-meter events. Junior pole vaulters Jason Bryant and Steven Staniewski, both in the county's top five, and senior shot putter Mike Saffron will be factors.
Perry Hall has just three seniors, but the perennially powerful Gators always make their presence known.
They have two standout distance performers, senior Jon Kappes and junior Andy Hart, as well as senior sprinters Renard Wilson and Brian Walker. Coach Brian Lee said that his field performers are green but have potential.
Parkville, maybe not as strong as in recent seasons, still could surprise with its mix of experienced veterans and talented newcomers. Leading the Knights will be seniors Oscar Torres (mile and half-mile), Dave Profili (2-mile), Sean McLaughlin (300, 500) and Pat O'Hara (high jump, 300).
Randallstown, among the county's top three for half a decade, will essentially start from scratch.
The Rams, fifth this spring in the Class 2A-3A state meet, lost every county, region and state champion on the roster and are extremely young. Senior Femi Somide is one of the county's top middle-distance threats and sophomore Artie Lewis is an improving miler.
Others to watch include Towson distance specialists Jason Mitchell -- a senior who was third in the state 3,200 both indoors and outdoors -- and sophomore John Winternitz; Franklin sophomore Mike Lisby, a distance standout; Hereford and Lansdowne pole vaulters Mike Labarre and Don Hull, both juniors; and senior shot putter Drew Marion of Lansdowne.
Baltimore City public
Top teams City and Mervo both lost quite a bit to graduation, but as City coach William Redmon said, this year's champion "will depend on who's rebuilt the best."
City College, the defending city indoor and outdoor champion, lost a half-dozen of its best sprinters and quarter-milers but seems to have improved in other areas. Returning is top miler James Giza, a senior, as well as standout two-miler Jason Lampkin, a junior.
The Knights boast three top sprinters, seniors Kevin Johnson and Donte Allen and sophomore Shawn Anderson, as well as half-miler Mahdi Nur, a senior, and quarter-miler Chris Brown, a junior.
Mervo graduated most of its top sprinters and middle-distance performers but returns a number of strong runners. Junior sprinter and jumper Norman Forrest, senior quarter-miler Odell Taylor, junior distance standout Colby Smith and junior half-miler Dennis Wellington again are back. Two freshmen, Gabari Bush (300, 500) and Andrew Hackett (800, 1,600), have talent.
"Everything is unproven," said coach Fred Hendricks. "We have good potential. I just don't know what to expect, exactly."
Carver has a pair of talented seniors, sprinter Ramon Durant and middle-distance threat Stanley Harmon, as well as improved sophomore sprinter Eugene Brown.
Other Baltimore athletes to watch include a pair of senior standouts from Poly, Aaron Gibbs (300) and Steve Harris (55 hurdles).
Calvert Hall could be the team to beat. The Cardinals, second in the MIAA last winter before winning it in the spring, feature one of the area's top shot putters, senior Jon Desi, as well as junior Alan McDavid -- winner of the 200 at the East Coast Invitational -- and senior Keith Gordon, the defending champion in the high jump.
Senior Aaron Johnson, an All-City/County cross country pick, anchors the team's distance corps, and is one of just seven seniors on a roster of more than 50. Like its chief competition, Calvert Hall will be relying on a number of newcomers and JV call-ups.
Two-time defending MIAA indoor champion Mount St. Joseph is reloading after losing most of its team to graduation, but don't count the Gaels out just yet.
They feature a corps of distance standouts in sophomore All-Metro cross country pick Greg Zmijewski, junior All-City/County cross country pick Dan Ramirez and up-and-coming sophomore Cordis Stanfield, who can run everything from the 400 to 3,200.
They also feature sophomore Mike Wright, last year's MIAA JV champion in the 110 and 300 hurdles, senior shot putter Noud Van Stekelenburg, a pair of senior high jumpers, Glen Littlefield and Derrick Levroney, and a top newcomer in junior Oscar Gonzalez, who will run middle distance after concentrating on soccer.
Said coach Gene Constantine: "If we develop, we could be the best team around."
Gilman also lost a lot to graduation and will be relying on a number of lacrosse, baseball and football players, using indoor track as a way to stay in shape over the winter.
That list starts with senior Felix Isuk, The Sun's All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year, who won MIAA championships last year in both the indoor and outdoor shot put.
Other Greyhounds to watch are senior hurdler Darryl Jordan, senior pole vaulter Martin Lotz and junior sprinter Nick Nocar.
McDonogh could find its way into the mix, led by a pair of seniors in defending MIAA pole vaulting champion Tony Saundek and second team All-Metro football defensive back Tony Esposito, a sprinter.
Baltimore County public
Woodlawn, a top-five team at both the indoor and outdoor state championships a year ago, appears poised to repeat.
Coach Erin Graham's squad lost just three seniors and returns a wealth of talented performers in a wide array of events. Senior Eboni Henderson took third in the 55 hurdles at both the indoor and outdoor state championships.
Others expected to make an impact are senior sprinter Tabitha McKenzie, junior Jamila Smith (middle-distance), sophomore Tamara Morgan (distance), junior Oluyemisi Adekunle (distance) and sophomore sprinter Latia Morton.
"We don't have the great numbers, but we've got plenty of talent," said Graham.
Defending county champion Dulaney also should contend, despite having only one senior.
Junior Stephanie Kuehne is the defending state outdoor high jump champion.
The Lions also will rely on junior Laurie Twardzik (300, 500), junior Stacy Mann (800, 1600), sophomore pole vaulter Stephanie Wells and freshman standouts Tenke Zoltani (distance) and Ida Bernstein (sprints). Junior distance standout Katie Lavezza is recovering from stress fractures in both legs.
The team's only weakness appears to be the shot put.
Said coach Don Metil: "A lot of teams will be chasing us this year."
Perry Hall will be ready to pounce. The Gators are young but don't appear to have a weak area.
They are led by a number of standout distance runners: freshman Kristen Townsley (3,200), sophomore Laura Brazil (1,600) and sophomore Jessica Dalton (1,600 and down).
Senior Lisa Pann will be one of the favorites to win the Class 3A-4A pole vault championship after taking third a year ago, and senior Lacey Chanoski (500) and junior Sharon Gill (300) also will contribute.
Parkville, a defending region champion, defeated Woodlawn last season.
The young Knights -- who have 18 freshmen and sophomores on a roster of 29 -- are led by defending state indoor and outdoor high jump champion Sarah White, a senior who also will run the 400.
Others to watch for Parkville include senior Meghan Burke (middle distance), senior Erica Ross (long sprints) and pole vaulters Amy Bullinger and Laura Paugh, both juniors.
Catonsville is young but full of potential, especially in the distance and middle-distance events.
Freshman Tricia O'Connell, second at the state cross country meet, and senior Sandra Gallagher will form one of the area's top distance tandems. Another distance standout, senior Rachel Hayes, is recovering from two stress fractures in her foot but may be back late in the season.
The Comets also feature three middle-distance performers to watch: sophomores Kristen Brown and Sarah Slaffosky and freshman Emma Gantcheva. The team could struggle in field events.
Randallstown may not challenge for a title but should do well with sophomore Sherrell Simmons (55, shot put), senior sprinters Alisha Myers and Raven Roseman and twin sophomore sprinters Candace and Chantell Ringgold.
Milford Mill will be rebuilding. Two leaders will be seniors Ataya Mohammad (55) and Alicia Gillian (middle distance).
Others to watch include Towson distance specialists Anastasia Mukhina, a freshman, and sophomore Jennifer Beck, as well as Towson senior sprinter Lori-Ann Gregory and Loch Raven sophomore Tiffany Yep, who took fifth in the 500 at last year's Class 1A-2A state championships.
Baltimore City public
As always, Western is the team to beat.
The Doves are led by Toni Jefferson (55, 300), a fleet-footed senior who was second at last winter's Class 3A-4A state meet in the 300 and fifth in the 55, leading Western to a fourth-place team finish.
Senior Tia Burley (500, 800) and a pair of juniors in Lisa Henry (800, 1,600) and Sharronda Boone (55, 300) should be key performers for the Doves, who are especially strong in running events but inexperienced in the field.
Carver could be Western's main competition, led by a pair of standout sprinters, sophomore Delass Johnson and junior Tahsinah Ali. Both have eclipsed 7.5 seconds in the 55.
Coach Walter Cole said he also has two "phenomenal" freshmen out of the Blazers recreation program in Shaunte Brown and Jamila McAlister, both of whom will run anything from the 300 to the 800. Middle distance junior Araya Gibson is one to watch, as well.
Mervo will be led by senior sprinter and hurdler Sarena Wheeler, who qualified for the state finals in the 55 hurdles a year ago.
Lake Clifton senior Jade Johnson will be one to watch, too, as she defends her Class 3A-4A state title in the 55 hurdles.
A year ago, Catholic won all but one meet in surging to a Catholic League championship. Coach Rob Torres, however, said the Cubs' reign may not be coming to an end anytime soon.
"I think this year's team is better than last year's," said Torres. "This is probably the most deep and athletic group I've had on one team."
Leading the way is All-Catholic League sprinter, senior Natalie Boulware, who consistently finished in the top three in both the 55 and 300.
Add to that sophomore sprinter and jumper Jill Bowers, whom Torres called "the biggest surprise" in practice, sophomore sprinter Lindsey Polek, senior hurdler and high jumper Amy Phillips, senior distance standout Kelly Hill and a group of freshmen, and the Cubs appear to be one of the best teams around.
Mount de Sales will be best in the distance events, fielding two of its top three cross country runners, senior Colleen McGarvey and sophomore Lara Wittstadt.
Junior Michelle Cavanaugh is also a top returning thrower for the Sailors.
Though McDonogh will not field an official varsity team, the Eagles have a group of athletes who are favored to win Catholic League championships.
Chief among them is sophomore Kacie Remeto, a distance standout whose accolades include All-City/County Runner of the Year and All-Metro in cross country and All-Metro last spring in outdoor track. She will run the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
Another All-Metro performer last spring was sophomore Channel Lattimer, a sprinter who won four golds at the Catholic League championships. Junior Anna Eder won the Catholic League 800 outdoors, and freshman Brandi Preston is expected to be a top middle-distance threat.
Pub Date: 12/13/98