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Howard's triple threat enters world duathlon championships


THREE HOWARD countians have made Team America for the annual world duathlon championships Oct. 19 and 20 in Alpharetta, Ga., north of Atlanta.

Duathlon, an arcane sport that is a combination of distance running and cycling, conducts its competitions by age group.

The three residents have been to world meets before, and each competes in a different age group.

They are Trey Cassidy (30-34 years old), Don Forgione (50-54) and John Elliott (60-64). Cassidy, principal of Glenelg Country School, and Forgione, a federal health-care employee, live in Ellicott City. Elliott lives in Allview Estates.

Forgione's son Adam, 18, a world youth competitor last year, won both Maryland and Mid-Atlantic duathlon honors in his age group. He just missed qualifying for the U.S. "junior elite" team, finishing seventh with six named to the squad.

The younger Forgione thus became an alternate, knowing that if he had competed instead in the under-23 elite class, he would be heading for Georgia, too.

For Cassidy, making this year's national team - his sixth - must be a relief. He wanted to compete last year in Rimini, Italy, but was scheduled to take a flight Sept. 11 that, of course, was canceled.

The Forgiones, on the other hand, left for Italy on Sept. 10, learning of the terrorist attacks via MTV-Europe after landing in England.

Elliott also qualified for the U.S. team a year ago but passed on the trip - too much work and expense, he said.

A real grind

The system grinds away. And so the Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County, which more than a year ago had hoped its Covenant Park complex would be several months under construction by now, isn't expecting a "go" until next year.

The plan was for the 10-field complex off Centennial Lane, roughly opposite Centennial Park, to open in time for this year's Columbia Invitational Tournament held over Memorial Day weekend.

"We're not only not going to be ready for next Memorial Day, we're going to lose the fall season in 2003, as well," said David Procida, association president.

Reason? Arguments on appeals to the Circuit Court of the unanimous Board of Appeals approvals of the project (and the separate, but interrelated, Baptist sanctuary planned for the same acreage) that were tentatively set for October have been delayed.

The church is selling most of its land to the association and will build the sanctuary with money from the sale.

An administrative judge is scheduled to accept legal briefs and oral arguments Dec. 17 from the association and the two men behind the appeals.

And then, Procida said, "we're told it'll take a few to several months until there's a written decision. We're hoping for three, but it could be longer than that.

"There's nothing we can do about it. It's just the overloaded court system. That's the only way to describe it. ... The process just drags on, but [Covenant Park's] going to happen."

Meanwhile, Procida said, the association has received "all the approvals we need" to begin construction quickly, assuming a favorable court decision - which, he said, cannot be further appealed.

Those approvals include meeting utility requirements and satisfying state environmental officials on Covenant Park's impact and Howard County government on traffic concerns.

Traffic was the biggest objection of appellants during the Board of Appeals process, which began last September, dragged on into January and then, in April, was appealed to the court.

On its other field front, the association is expecting approval by late next month, Procida said, on its plans for improving several Howard Community College fields. That work will yield irrigated and better fields that will be shared with college teams.

A contractor has been selected, Procida said, and college administrators and the soccer group await expected approvals from the college's directors and state budgetary officials in late October.

Call the writer at 410-332- 6525 or send e-mail to lowell.

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