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Smithsburg girls track team wins state championship

May 27, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

CATONSVILLE, Md. - Winning is one of those habits that's difficult to start, but even tougher to quit.

The Smithsburg girls track team has made a habit of winning the Maryland Class 1A state championship. And even though the vast majority thought the Leopards were done, no one told them it was time to quit.

The Leopards used two individual state championships and a team approach to the meet Saturday to win a record fifth straight state championship as Western Maryland had a field day on the track at University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

Middletown swept both the boys and girls titles in Class 2A while the Thomas Johnson boys won the Class 3A crown.

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"Last year, we won the title by 80 points ... that's ungodly," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. "Then you take that talent from the team and we still came back and won by 25 points. It's big, especially since everyone was writing us off. These girls are used to winning."

Smithsburg has turned Class 1A into the Leopard Division by not only winning five straight titles, but by taking seven of the last nine state trophies.

Smithsburg scored 86 points to defeat chief rival Oakland Mills by 26.

Boonsboro finished fourth with 47 points followed by South Hagerstown (fifth with 46), Williamsport (sixth with 44), Catoctin (12th with 20), Brunswick (15th with 9) and Clear Spring (21st with 4).

"We have won this thing every way possible," Orndorff said. "Today, we got points from all the people we had to and got some to score multiple points."

Beth Sprecher set the tone for Smithsburg by winning the 110 high hurdles in 15.88, the first running event of the day. Katie Hoffman added support by winning the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 4 inches, her personal best.

"I'm a senior and I wanted to go out on top," Hoffman said. "I set some pretty high goals for myself.

"We've stuck together, and not just at meets," she said. "We support each other when we do our best. It might not finish first or second, but we are proud of what everyone does and accept it."

But while the champions earn the spoils, the nonwinners came up golden because of some personal sacrifice.

"The toughest part of track is finding where each athlete can score the most for you," Orndorff said.

"Michelle Feiser is a prime example for us. She had the inside track to win the 300 intermediate hurdles, but we needed her to run in the 400, which are consecutive events. She sacrificed winning the event to get us a third and a second for 14 points that came at a key part of the meet."

Sprecher and Hoffman were two of 13 athletes who won 17 individual championships for Western Maryland, including six from Washington County.

Three locals won two titles, including South Hagerstown's Emilie Bonano, who won the 100 and 200 to start a winning tradition of her own.

"I'm really happy right now. I had two indoor titles and now I got two outdoors," Bonano said.

Middletown's Randy Buzzell and Catoctin's Catherine Olson was also double champions, winning the 1,600 and 800 in their class. Thomas Johnson's Michael Garner won the 100 and 200 in Class 3A.

Other winners were:

* Class 1A - Boonsboro's Jen Frey, long jump; Williamsport's Josh Martin, discus; and Todd Morris, 200.

* Class 2A - Walkersville's Doug Allen, 1,600.

* Class 3A - Thomas Johnson's Erin Gaeng, 800, and Tommy Fitzgerald, 300 hurdles.

* Class 4A - Frederick's Imani White, 100.

Thomas Johnson scored 66 points to edge Patuxent by six points. The Williamsport boys scored 62 points but fell short in defending their state title, losing to Oakland Mills by 21 points.

Smithsburg finished third with 59 points while South Hagerstown (eighth with 22 1/2), Brunswick (11th with 18), Clear Spring (19th with 10), Boonsboro (20th with 9) and Hancock (23rd with 6) also placed.

Meanwhile, Middletown carried its tradition of track excellence into the 21st century with victories that are yet to be called official. The heavy rains of the day prevented Class 2A boys and girls and the Class 4A girls pole vault events to be finished.

But the Knights were far enough ahead with the events pending to win the title. In fact, the boys team had 67 points to beat Surrattsville by 20.

"Our team had a lot of quality kids who stepped up in a very emotional year," Middletown coach Don Boyer said. "This is the 47th time we have either won or finished runner-up in track. I think it shows we have a good program and we're proud of the program."

For Smithsburg and Middletown, winning has a way of happening.

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