Westminster was the lone Carroll County squad to field an indoor track and field team last year. The Owls were serving as somewhat of a pilot program because the county had gone without indoor track since the early 1980s.
Something obviously worked for the Owls. The rest of the county is fielding indoor teams for the first time in years this winter, but Westminster has a carry-over from last year that gives it depth and lets it stand alone as Carroll's top team.
The Owls showed that in a big way last night by routing the rest of the county's teams in a meet at the Carroll Indoor Sports Center.
This was not officially a county championship, but could easily have served as one. All five county schools were competing together for the first time, in addition to some parts of Middletown and St. John's of Prospect Hall.
Westminster swept the Central Maryland Conference championships late last month, and had little trouble repeating the feat last night.
The Owls boys led the way with 161 points, far ahead of South Carroll (92). For the girls, Westminster's 144.5 gave it an easy victory over North Carroll (93.5).
"They've got so much depth, and they score points in every event," said South Carroll coach Rob Pennington of the Owls. "That's what you need to have a successful program."
For the boys, distance running often has been a Westminster staple. The Owls have won the Class 4A cross country state title each of the last three years, but sprints and field events are much stronger this winter and helping the team score points everywhere.
For example, Ifeanyi Ani won the 300 dash while teammate Jared Craig took both the 55 hurdles and 55 dash.
Jamel Smalls won the shot put while Jesse O'Connell continued his strong indoor season with a victory in the 1,600.
The girls also got points from a lot of places. Rachel Imhoff won the 300, and Kiara Adams captured the shot put. Mandy Komar won the 800 while the team won the 4x180 relay.
"We try to keep it low-key," said Westminster coach Jim Shank. "That's the purpose, to keep it fun and stay in shape."
Adams fared well last winter and enjoyed herself. She also said that athletes in the school heard about indoor track and it caught the attention of many.
The Owls had about 100 athletes come out for indoor track this winter, an increase over last year. In fact, Shank actually had to make cuts.
"The extra practice helped last year," said Adams. "Coach Shank was really proud of the team last year. At Westminster, we have a large school and we have a lot of talented athletes."
Not having indoor track hurt all the county's outdoor programs. Since there was no indoor track program for years, outdoor teams often spent the first part of their seasons simply trying to get in shape.
While none of the county teams will have to worry about that this year, Westminster may have an edge because it has so many athletes who trained throughout the winter.
"Now the first two or three weeks of the outdoor season aren't as crucial," said Shank. "You can bring them along slower, and there's less chance for injuries."
Boys: Westminster 161, S. Carroll 92, F.S. Key 49, Liberty 34, Middletown 28, North Carroll 26.
Girls: Westminster 144.5, N. Carroll 93.5, S. Carroll 58, F.S. Key 42, Liberty 35, Middletown 20, St. Johns-Prospect Hall 4.
Pub Date: 2/03/99