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Hubs have reason to dream big

December 05, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

At last season's Washington County Indoor Track Championships, Williamsport came from behind to edge North Hagerstown 161-159 for its seventh straight girls team title.

"I have high hopes that we'll be better than second this year," said first-year North head coach Brian Myers, who took over for Sarina Hamilton.

The Hubs have reason to dream big. With nearly all of their top performers back from last season, they clearly look like the team to beat in the county this winter.

"They're going to be a force to be reckoned with," Williamsport coach John Bailey said. "It will be hard to keep up."

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Senior sprinter Katie Ritter is North's superstar. She placed second in the 300-meter dash and fourth in the 55 at the Maryland Class 2A indoor state championships last winter, and then took first in the 400, second in the 100 and third in the 200 at the outdoor state meet last spring.

The Hubs have four other returnees who also were all-county first-team selections last winter -- seniors Alison Harrell (distance), Renee Phillips (sprints) and Kendra Smith (hurdles) and junior Beth Wagner (high jump, hurdles). Senior Kelly Tinlin (high jump) was a second-team selection.

Harrell leads a dominant squad of distance runners who won a county team title and placed third at the 2A state championships in cross country this past fall season.

"It's a little scary coming in, knowing the talent that I have and trying to make all that talent work as a team," said Myers, who was an assistant coach at North the past two years. "We should be good, but it's going to take a lot of hard work and determination."

Boonsboro



Juniors Megan Deckert (pole vault) and Katie Miller (hurdles) were all-county first-team selections for the Warriors last season, while senior Anna Olszewski (hurdles), juniors Whitley Burns (pole vault), Paige Flook (shot put) and Bridgette Nitza (distance) and sophomore Katie Rickerds (distance) were second-team choices.

"Field events and hurdles are going to be our strength," coach Becky Walter said. "And we have a good group from cross country, so distance should do very well for us as well.

"Outside of those events, it's wide open for us. It should be an interesting year."

A key newcomer is freshman distance runner Sarah Zielinski, who placed a county-best 13th in the Class 1A state cross country championships last month.

Clear Spring



Of the 20 girls on the Blazers' roster, only six return from last season.

"We have a bunch of new people," coach Jaime Mason said. "I don't know really what we have."

But she knows exactly what she has in senior Paige Shirk, the Class 1A state record holder in the shot put, indoors and outdoors. Mason said Shirk is looking better than ever.

"She just seems very fit right now and very confident," Mason said. "She's by far the best athlete on Clear Spring's campus right now. She's just amazing."

Hancock



Sophomore sprinter Amelia McCarty, an all-county honorable mention last winter, is the Panthers' lone returnee. The good news is that their roster has more than doubled in size from last season, from three girls to seven.

"One thing's for sure, they'll definitely get experience," coach Paul Norris said. "You just try to find their best event, put them in it and help them along in it as best you can."

Smithsburg



Coach Ray Shriver has one returning all-county first-teamer in senior Erika Gerhold (pole vault) and an army of second-teamers in seniors Colleen Black (shot put), Stephanie Breen (middle distance), Chelsea Craig (sprints), Rebecca Minnick (middle distance) and Carrie Rishell (hurdles), juniors Katie Schoen (shot put) and Sarah Wren (sprints) and sophomore Taylor Cline (middle distance).

There are nearly 50 girls on the roster.

Two key newcomers are junior Jonelle Jerwick and sophomore Lauren Johnson. Jerwick was the county's top performer in the pole vault last spring (10 feet), while Johnson led the Leopards to a Class 1A state runner-up finish in cross country last month.

South Hagerstown



Dwayne Freeman, who has the Rebels pointing in the right direction outdoors, will now try to do the same indoors. He has replaced Jaimie Camden as head coach.

"The positive attitude is starting to spread," said Freeman, who has 30 girls on his roster.

Senior Sarah England (pole vault) was an all-county second-team selection last winter.

"The younger girls are following her lead," Freeman said.

The key newcomer is senior La'Kesa McClain, who swept the 2A West region titles in the shot put and discus last spring a few months after moving to Hagerstown.

Williamsport



The Wildcats became the first indoor state champions in county history last season. Repeating that feat, however, won't be easy as they return only one of their eight all-county first-team selections -- senior Brittany Weaver (sprints).

"We lost all those big point scorers," coach John Bailey said. "I saw them all over Thanksgiving and told them I wished they still had a year of eligibility."

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