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Gold rush!

Leopards win eighth straight title: county produces 19 event winners

Leopards win eighth straight title: county produces 19 event winners

May 25, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

Buddy Orndorff had planned to relax Saturday afternoon at the Maryland Track & Field State Championships at University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

The Smithsburg coach never thought he'd be frantically crunching numbers through the 17th and final event. This appeared to be the season that the Leopards girls, who lost several top scorers to graduation last year, would finally relinquish their seven-year reign in Class 1A.

"I almost thought wrong," said Orndorff. "But you never give up on your kids."

The kids didn't give up, either.

Smithsburg finished the day tied 70-70 for first place with Poolesville, last year's runner-up and the heavy favorite coming into the meet.

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The co-championship team banner put the finishing touches on a remarkable title surge by Washington County athletes, who added 11 individual titles and two relay crowns Saturday to the six wins they began the meet with on Thursday.

"With what Poolesville had coming back and what we had coming back, I never thought we would have won based on paper," Orndorff said. "But paper doesn't measure heart and it doesn't measure determination."

He said the tie is as good as an outright win.

"It's not going to say 'tie' on our jackets," said Orndorff. "We're state champions, eight years in a row. I couldn't be more proud of a group of kids."

Tara Knable, who defended her title in the 1A girls discus Thursday, added a win in the shot put Saturday to lead the Leopards.

The Williamsport girls, who finished a close third in the 1A standings with 64 points, were led by sprinter Catie Witman.

The Wildcats sophomore won the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

"I just wanted to get top three, but I'll take the top," said Witman. "It was pretty surprising. There are a lot of girls out there who really wanted it."

Wildcats Laura Scuffins, Michelle Mummert, Kristin Berry and Brittany Kershner also captured a title, combining efforts to win the girls 1,600 relay.

The Williamsport boys, who tied Smithsburg for third in 1A, won the boys 1,600 relay. Seth Shrader, Mike Barnes, Rhet Troxell and Phil Taylor joined forces in the victory.

Wildcats senior Ryan Martin made his first throw in the boys discus stand up as he defended his title in the event in a 1A state-meet record 166 feet, 10 inches - about 14 feet shy of the school record he set earlier this season.

"Today wasn't exactly the best conditions. The 180 came on a perfect day," Martin said. "My goal today was just to come out and break the state record, and if anybody could beat me, congratulations to them."

The congratulations continued to go the way of Boonsboro's Brett Morrell.

Fresh off a dramatic win in the 1A boys long jump Thursday, the Warriors senior won his third straight 300 hurdles crown in state-meet record 39.02 seconds - .15 seconds faster than the mark he set last year.

Morrell, who will run track for Duke University next year, ended his prep career with seven gold medals.

"It's been a great four years, and I'm real proud to have been able to defend these titles," said Morrell. "I went out on the right note and am ready to move on."

Boonsboro made it a clean sweep of the 1A hurdles, as junior Dan Robinson won the 110 hurdles and sophomore Sarah Hensley won the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.

The Warriors girls picked up another gold medal from senior Sarah Harris, who topped Hancock's Carie Beaver for the 1A long jump title.

Smithsburg senior Corey Brown, who defended his 1A boys high jump title Thursday, added another win in the triple jump.

North Hagerstown senior Paige O'Flaherty captured the county's lone 2A victory, taking the girls 100 hurdles. She was all smiles as she made her way to the finish line.

"I just kept thinking, 'I've got this, I've got this,'" O'Flaherty said. "I've never felt so happy in my entire life."

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