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'Cats aim to live up to advance billing

February 15, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

Track meets aren't won on paper.

That might be too bad for the Williamsport boys and a good thing for the Williamsport girls, heading into Monday's Maryland State Indoor Track Championships in Landover, Md.

If the meet's performance lists (the combined results from all the regional championships in the state) were to be scored, the Williamsport boys would win the Class 1A state title with 55 points, while Glenelg would take second with 41. The Williamsport girls, however, would finish a close second, 75-74, to Digital Harbor.

All that really means is that each Williamsport team has a chance. No Washington County school has ever won a state team title in indoor track, boys or girls.

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"I like both our teams' chances, but it's going to be tough," Williamsport coach John Bailey said. "But I know my kids will go down and give it everything they've got. They won't be satisfied without winning. That's just the way they are."

Wildcats senior Michael Lilley won state titles in the 3,200-meter run and the 4x800 relay last winter. He'll try to duplicate that performance Monday with top seeds in both events.

"We should be able to cruise in the 4x800. I don't think there'll be anyone around us," said Lilley, who also is seeded fourth in the 800 (2:07.94). "The 3,200 is the big one. I've run under the state record (9:49.50 for Class 1A) three times now. I just need to do it at the state meet. ... And if I was able to win the 800, that would just be icing on the cake."

Will Williamsport junior Justin Bowie, the top seed in the 55 hurdles (8.06), improve on his second-place finish in the event last year?

"The guy I lost to last year graduated. So the way I look at it, yeah," Bowie said. "I'm feeling confident."

Amy Taylor is the top seed in the 500 (1:23.86) for the Williamsport girls, who also are seeded first in the 4x800 (10:26.46) and 4x400 (4:21.15).

Shot-putter Jordie Lord, the county's only returning girls state champ from last year, is seeded second at 34-4 3/4 for the Wildcats.

Clear Spring's Paige Shirk is seeded first at 38-0 1/2, nearly two feet off her personal best (39-10 3/4), but still more than a foot better than the 1A meet record (36-8 1/2).

"I'd like to hit 40 at least," said Shirk, a two-time outdoor state champ who's competing indoors for the first time this season. "I honestly don't care too much about titles and records. I just care about my personal best. I don't focus on what other people do, because I can't control it. I just focus on what I do."

If Shirk is in top form, there might not be much Lord can do.

"I've talked to (Lord) and she still wants to win," Bailey said. "She certainly won't concede anything. But second place is still eight points, and that would be big for us."

Other top seeds in Class 1A include Smithsburg's Billy Lawrence and Tyler Craig in the boys high jump. Both cleared 5-8 at regionals.

In Class 2A, North Hagerstown's Katie Ritter, who has never won a state title indoors or outdoors, is seeded first in the 300 (42.15) and fourth in the 55 (7.52). She was the runner-up in the 55 last winter.

"(Winning) is my goal," Ritter said. "I've gotten a little extra training so I can get that title."

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