Wildcats try to take their winter success to great outdoors

March 19, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

Last month, the Willliamsport girls became the first team in Washington County history to win a Maryland state title in indoor track.

Now, the Wildcats are ready to take their show outdoors. And they've got their added feature attraction -- senior Cayla Broadwater.

Broadwater, who did not compete indoors, won Class 1A state titles last spring in the long, triple and high jumps to lead Williamsport to the team title.

"It's great to have her back," Williamsport coach John Bailey said. "She's in good shape, and she's working hard like she always does."

Broadwater is one of six returning all-county selections for the Wildcats. The others are Tracey Forsythe (distance), Amy Taylor (hurdles), Rehema Emanuel (sprints), Morgan Keplinger (middle distance) and Brittany Weaver (sprints). Also, Jordie Lord, the Wildcats' star shot putter indoors, has given up softball to join the outdoor track team.


"It's really exciting to go from winning indoors to going outdoors with even more people who can bring more to the table," said Keplinger, who won indoor state titles in the 800 and 4x800 last month. "Winning isn't always everything, but it's always the goal. We want that championship again."

But there are still many races to run and heights to clear between now and late May.

"Our team's there. We have the ability to win it again, but we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves," Taylor said. "We just have to focus on the meets at hand, and everything will fall into place."


Junior Anna Olszewski (hurdles), the Warriors' lone returning all-county selection from last spring, most likely is out for the season with a foot injury.

"We're definitely rebuilding," coach Becky Walter said.

Key newcomers include Megan Deckert and Danielle Brown. Deckert placed third in the pole vault at the 1A state indoor meet last month, while Brown, a senior who switched from cheerleading to track this school year, placed fourth in the shot put.

Other athletes to watch include: Katie Miller (hurdles), Whitney Burns (pole vault), Jessica Nicolao (middle distance), Amy Moore (middle distance) and Morgan Holmes (jumps).

Clear Spring

Junior Paige Shirk (throws), a three-time 1A state champ, will be counted on to do more than score points.

First-year head coach Doug McBurney said Shirk's leadership also is invaluable.

"Overall, we're a young team. The majority are freshmen and sophomores," said McBurney, who took over for Sue Lowery. "We're building. I'm excited about some of the kids we have."

Kirstie McMurray (jumps) and Shirk are all-county returnees. McMurray and fellow senior Hillary Jardine (distance) are the captains.


Of the 15 girls on Hancock's team, Caty Hess (throws) and Beth Bowman are the only seniors, while Michaeleon Merchant (distance) is the only junior.

"I'm kind of excited," coach Jeff Spielman said. "The young kids seem to be ready to go, ready to learn and eager to participate. They're excited and that's a good thing. We just need to get that channeled in the right direction."

He said newcomer Amelia McCarty (sprints) should make an immediate impact.

North Hagerstown

If anyone can knock Williamsport off its county perch, it's the Hubs.

"I've been walking around holding two fingers up," said first-year head coach and former Hub Robert Waugh, who took over for Curtis Graff. "And I ask them if they know what it means. And they say, 'No, what's that?'

"I tell them that it means no one remembers No. 2. They seem to like that. It's a pretty big motivator."

But no one could forget the Hubs' big two -- Katie Ritter and Renee Phillips.

At last year's county championships, Ritter won the 100, 200 and 400, while Phillips was the runner-up in all three.

North's other all-county returnees include Beth Wagner (jumps), Whitney Garvin (jumps), Alison Harrell (distance) and Brooke Pettner (middle distance).


T.J. Hood and Ray Shriver have switched positions with the Leopards. Hood is now the head coach, and Shriver is an assistant.

"It's a dream come true, and I never thought I'd have it at 25 years old," said Hood, a 2001 Smithsburg grad. "It's exciting, and I'm sure it will be better once the meets start."

Colleen Black (throws/jumps) and Erika Gerhold (pole vault) are all-county returnees.

"The girls are doing great," Hood said. "Their work ethic is unmatched."

South Hagerstown

Last year, the South boys won their first county team title since 1970.

"This year, I'm really looking to see the girls team improve," said coach Dwayne Freeman, whose girls tied for fourth at last season's county meet. "I really stressed that in the preseason meeting. I expect the girls to step up and have better performances.

"Williamsport sets the pace. I'd love to be at that level. But we still have our work to do."

Kayla Freeman (sprints) and Lexi Turano (distance) are all-county returnees.

Girls to Watch

Colleen Black, Jr., Smithsburg

She showed her versatility last year, winning a county title in the discus and placing third in Maryland 1A in the triple jump.

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