Many area coaches point to the annual Maryland National Guard Indoor Track Scholastic Games at the Fifth Regiment Armory as the best early indicator as to how their teams will fare in February's state championships.
If that's the case, then the Western girls may soon have a golden chance to add some hardware to its trophy case.
Medaling in five events, the Doves placed second at yesterday's prestigious meet, which featured over 60 schools, though not those from Montgomery County, which prohibits student athletes from competing on Saturdays if school was canceled on Friday.
Western took fourth at last year's Class 3A-4A state meet, but the three teams that finished ahead of it did not participate yesterday.
"We're still out of shape, but hopefully in another month or so we'll we'll be ready for the state championships," said Western coach Jerry Mollineaux, whose team finished with 40 points, second only to Frederick Douglas' 47. Glen Burnie was third (28), River Hill fourth (24) and Annapolis fifth (18.5).
Leading the Doves was Toni Jefferson (second in hurdles), Tia Burley (third in 500) and relay teams which won the 800 and placed second in both the 1600 and 3200. Still, runners said they were surprised with the result in light of missed practice time due to the Christmas break as well as recent ice and snow storms.
"I think it's a good sign," said Jefferson, "because none of us are really in shape. We're all hurting, really."
It was an impressive showing for Glen Burnie, as well.
Despite what coach Aaron Walker termed an off-day by top distance threat Katie Sloan -- The Sun's Anne Arundel County Cross Country Runner of the Year, who finished third in the 3000 and fifth in the 1500 -- the Gophers surprised in the field events, with Delrhea Godwin (high jump) and Susan Sperduto (shot put) each posting victories.
"I think we could've done a lot better," said Walker. "Katie Sloan wasn't feeling too well today but then we got a first in the high jump and first in the shot put, which was kind of a pleasant surprise."
Other local winners included Oakland Mills' Danielle Stoddart (800), Long Reach's Tee Carter (55), River Hill's Lee McDuff (3000) and Annapolis' 3200 relay team.
High Point won the boys' meet with 53 points, followed by Northwestern-PG (27), Old Mill (26) and Woodlawn (23).
One of the best individual performances on the day from a local competitor came from Mervo senior Odell Taylor, who won the 500 in 1: 07.4 and took second in the 800, an event in which he has little experience. His efforts helped the largely inexperienced Mustangs to a sixth-place finish.
"Personally, I think I could've done much better," said Taylor, who hasn't lost in the 500 this season, "but I'm satisfied with my times and the way in which I ran today."
Other local winners included Old Mill's Victor Thillet (1500 and 3000), Atholton's Tony Pesce (pole vault), Arundel's Namid Rawle (55), Annapolis' Paul Comas (high hurdles), the Woodlawn and Milford Mill 1600 relay teams -- which finished in a tie -- and the Severna Park 3200 relay team.
For at least one coach, the high level of competition more than made up for a nearly 12-hour day.
"It definitely is a good tune-up for the state meet because of the quality," said Walker.
Pub Date: 1/17/99