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Warrior vs. Warrior

Morrell, Robinson will clash in the 1A-2A state 55-meter hurdles.

Morrell, Robinson will clash in the 1A-2A state 55-meter hurdles.

February 17, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

Heads or tails?

Morrell or Robinson?

"On any given day, you can flip a coin," said Boonsboro track coach Jason Orendi.

That's been the tale of the finish line the last two years on the prep track circuit. And the story never gets old, at least not for Warriors Brett Morrell and Dan Robinson when it comes to hurdling.

The final chapter of their indoor rivalry is set to unfold Monday at the Maryland Class 1A-2A state championships at Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover, Md.

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So, who will win the 55-meter hurdles title?

Easy. Robinson. Or Morrell.

Morrell, a senior, is king of the outdoors. He's the two-time defending state champ in the 300 hurdles and long jump and tacked on a fifth gold last spring in the 110 hurdles - as Robinson, the West region champ in the 110s, was sidelined with a pulled hamstring.

Robinson, a junior, is the defending indoor state champ in the 55 hurdles and fresh off a region title in the event last weekend - when Morrell, who edged Robinson the week before for the Washington County crown, was the runner-up.

Neither has finished behind anyone else in the event all winter. Take away last year's state 55 hurdles final, when Morrell took third, and that's true for the last two indoor seasons.

"As far as I'm concerned, the race is always between me and Dan," said Morrell. "I don't even really think about anyone else."

At least not in these parts.

"There's usually one other guy at states who will be close to us," Robinson said, "but it won't be that big of a deal."

For Morrell, who's set to continue his track career at Duke University, adding an indoor gold to his trophy case is a big deal.

"I've been there three years and haven't come away with one," he said. "To get all the outdoor ones and then not get any indoor ones ... I'd just like to get one."

Morrell's best chance for a title may come in the 300 dash, where he hasn't lost all season. There are no longer hurdles races or long jump indoors.

"I'm a good sprinter, but I'm a better longer sprinter," said Morrell. "That's why the outdoor events suit me better."

Robinson, who took second in both the 55 dash and high jump at regionals last weekend, will be in the state mix for both of those events as well. The pair will also join forces in the 800 relay, which Boonsboro won at regionals.

"They're both so competitive, which is what drives them to do what they do," said Orendi. "I just like watching them. And the best thing about them is they're not just hurdlers. They can go out and run other events."

Yet if their fierce rivalry is any indication, the big prize lies in the 55 hurdles - which is also the source of their friendship.

"We're good friends, but the bottom line is, when it comes to meets, both of us want to win. That's the way it should be," said Morrell. "There are never any hard feelings when one wins and the other loses, but it keeps you motivated. You know you want to win and you see the guy who's standing in your way right there."

Robinson credits Morrell for nearly all of his motivation.

"If he wasn't here, I probably wouldn't have shown up to about 80 percent of these practices, because I'm lazy like that," said Robinson. "If he wasn't here, I definitely wouldn't be as good as I am now. It helps push me knowing he's running against me."

Morrell, who won his first two state titles when Robinson was just a freshman, certainly doesn't seem to resent the up-and-comer's achievements. It's just the opposite.

"I was on top before he came, so it's definitely been an adjustment. But I'm happy for Dan," said Morrell. "I kind of taught him how to hurdle. He was a rookie and I was a veteran, and I kind of showed him the ropes. It's good to see him doing so well, because I taught him all the stuff I know."

The final indoor lesson is for the taking.

"We're going to be going at it at states," Robinson said. "That's for sure."

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