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Clear Spring sets the track ablaze

April 09, 2005|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

Terry Baker has lived such the sporting life, it's tough for him to pinpoint his crowning achievement.

Perhaps it came on April 19, 1982, when he placed seventh at the Boston Marathon.

Baker's biggest accomplishment in coaching?

He didn't hesitate to answer that one after his Clear Spring boys won the team title at the Washington County Indoor Track Championships on Jan. 28, 2005.

"It's the most exciting moment of my coaching career," Baker said after the meet.

It was Clear Spring's first county team title in track - boys or girls, indoor or outdoor. The Blazers also won the boys team title at the county cross country championships last fall.

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Those performances seem especially noteworthy when considering that Clear Spring's combined number of victories this school year in soccer, volleyball, football and basketball can almost be counted on one hand.

"We're going against North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown, and they're three times the size of us," Baker said during a recent Clear Spring practice. "When we are able to compete with schools much larger than us, that's very satisfying."

How do they beat them?

"It goes back to the kids," Baker said. "They come out here every day and work hard and set their own goals. I don't even have to discuss goals with them anymore. All I do is train them and give them some knowledge. I take a lot of what worked for me and incorporate that into them."

First, he needed the kids to train and teach.

"When I first came here eight years ago, the outdoor track program had 17 kids and the indoor program only had five kids, boys and girls," Baker said. "This year, we finished up the indoor season with 54 kids."

The numbers for outdoor track this spring are nearly the same, meaning roughly 10 percent of the high school now runs track - an astounding figure.

"I don't have to recruit," Baker said. "The kids do all the recruiting for me. They love it."

As Jaime Mason, the assistant track and head cross country coach, explains it: "Success breeds success. It's just been slowly building.

"When you have 10 percent of the school involved in anything, you're going to have success," she said.

Senior captain R.J. Snyder, the indoor county champ in the shot put, also was a member of Clear Spring's first-year varsity football team that went 0-10 last fall.

"It was a great experience to be part of a first-year team," Snyder said. "It was fun, but everybody wants to win. You don't win, you get down on yourself."

Track has been an uplifting experience.

"It's fun being on a winning program," Snyder said. "When someone says you're No. 1 in the county, it kind of boosts your self esteem a little bit."

Ashley Lockard also has given Clear Spring a boost. The senior distance runner has won six state titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor track.

"Ashley just exudes enthusiasm," Mason said. "Her personality just brings more kids to the team. If you hang out with her, you just want to be around her."

Junior Josh Keyfauver takes care of putting fans in the stands.

"He put signs up all through the school last week advertising our track meet (the Clear Spring Invitational)," Mason said.

Keyfauver, the reigning county champ in the indoor 800, is just taking care of the family.

"Track is an individual sport, but recently we've been looking at it as a team thing. We work toward team goals," Keyfauver said. "We're all like a family. We have so much fun. Just look around and see. We all interact pretty well."

"We're a group of one," senior Jimmy Atkins said. "Everyone is out here for a purpose. We want to do good."

Baker just makes them better.

"He's a really smart coach. He knows what he's doing," Atkins said. "Every season he's coached me, I've run a PR at states. He knows how to get his kids to peak at the right time."

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