Outdoor track, softball finals moving to Morgan, College Park

Two Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state championship finals will have new addresses this spring.

Ned Sparks, the executive director of the MPSSAA, said the outdoor track and field championships are being moved from UMBC to Morgan State, and that all but an official agreement is in place to move the state softball finals from Randazzo Park in Severn to the University of Maryland in College Park.


Sparks said the MPSSAA decided to move the track and field championship meets to take advantage of Morgan State's vaunted track facilities.

"Morgan is an outstanding facility that offers amenities that you can't get anywhere else," said Sparks, adding that both sides have agreed in principle to the move. "UMBC has been a gracious host ... but we had an opportunity to take the track and field championships to the best facility in the state."


Moving the state softball finals to the Terrapin Softball Complex would allow qualifying teams access to amenities not provided by Randazzo Park. Teams that advance to the championship games would be able to use the dugouts, locker rooms and fenced-in batting cages offered by the single softball field near the Comcast Center.

"We anticipate going there," Sparks said.

Sparks also said he is optimistic that the state football finals will return to M&T; Bank Stadium.

National impact

Mervo senior Brandon Lynch ran the country's second-fastest 500 meters - 1 minute, 5.63 seconds - in the Prince George's Invitational Thursday night at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex, according to head coach Ronald Neal. In the same event, teammate Julius Coleman recorded the fifth-best time in the nation, 1:06.36.

Another honor for Turner

John Carroll's Kayani Turner, The Sun's All-Metro Volleyball Player of the Year after leading the Patriots (19-1) to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title this fall, was named the Gatorade Maryland High School Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.

Turner, a 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter who has signed to play at the University of Illinois, finished with an area-leading 324 kills, 23 blocks, 145 service points and 54 aces.


Cole calls it a day

Carver track and field coach Walter Cole knew it was time to retire. It just took him a year to finalize the decision.

Cole, who has been coaching high school athletes for 42 years, was set to retire last year, but changed his mind so that he could watch that senior class graduate.

"It was very difficult to let go," said Cole, 65, who retired Jan. 1. "But there comes a time when you have to say, 'Let me try my hand at something else.'"

Since his high school days at Dunbar, Cole has built his life around running. An accomplished cross country and track athlete for the Poets, Cole was an All-American cross country runner at Morgan State.

Cole has coached a veritable who's who. Bernard Williams won Olympic gold with the U.S. 400 relay team in 2000.


Dameon Johnson was a member of the U.S. men's mile relay team that broke the world and American records in the world indoor championships in Maebashi, Japan, in 1999. Ray Chester, Lindsey Mason and James Rooths own Super Bowl rings - Chester and Mason with the Oakland Raiders and Rooths with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Despite that star-studded resume, Cole said his greatest achievement was taking advantage of the opportunity to nurture high school athletes.

"When you really alter or change a youngster's life, you really can't be paid for that," he said. "Those are the areas that give me the most gratitude."

Cole said he plans to volunteer as an assistant coach for Morgan's track and field team and compete at the masters level on the Senior Olympian circuit.