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Williamsport girls take aim at state title

February 19, 2011|By ANDREW MASON | andrewm@herald-mail.com
  • Renee Barnes will try to help lead the Williamsport girls indoor track and field team to another state title Monday.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

The Williamsport girls indoor track and field team enters Monday’s Maryland Class 1A state meet as the champion of the MVAL Antietam, Washington County and the West region.

The last time the Wildcats carried that trio of titles into states they added a fourth, becoming the only team in county history, boys or girls, to capture a state team crown indoors. That was two years ago.

The state championships again will be held at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover. Classes 1A and 2A will compete Monday, beginning at 11 a.m., and Classes 3A and 4A will be in action Tuesday, starting at 4 p.m.

“We’re definitely going to take a shot. We’re going to try,” Williamsport coach John Bailey said. “We’re going to have to have some kids step up and do a little better than they did (at the region meet).”

“We have such a variety — really good sprinters, really good distance and everything in between,” Williamsport junior Renee Barnes said. “Not every team can say that.”

Barnes, a middle distance star, will be counted on to score big points, as she’s done all season. Whether the Wildcats prevail or not, her memories from this meet likely will be more lasting than her ones from the 2009 title run.

“I didn’t really get to experience that one. I was just an alternate then,” Barnes said. “I hope we can win it again. I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but I think we can.”

The county’s best hopes for a boys team title lie with Boonsboro, although the Warriors are dark horses after finishing second to Catoctin at both the MVAL Antietam and 1A West region meets.

“It’s possible,” said Boonsboro senior Kenny Kopp, who stars in the hurdles and vertical jumps. “We definitely have a good chance at top three. Everyone just has to show up and do their best.”

While Boonsboro’s Coby Gussio will continue his rivalry with Catoctin’s Deven Patterson in the 300 and 500, Warriors teammate J.R. Lowery is ready to take on the whole state in the shot put.

Lowery doesn’t just want to win the 1A title. He is aiming for the top throw of all four classes and sees Brian Uthe of Thomas Johnson, a 4A school, as the man to beat.

“Hopefully I can pop one out there and beat him,” said Lowery, who has a season-best throw of 51 feet, 3 1/2 inches. “I think 53 might beat him, and 53 is the qualifier for nationals. So I want to get that.”

In the Class 1A boys distance races, Williamsport’s Evan Hardy will continue his chase for his first individual state title. The junior was the state runner-up last winter in both the 1,600 and 3,200 and also finished second last fall at the state cross country meet.

This winter, Hardy is undefeated in the 1,600 and 3,200 — and he hopes to stay that way Monday.

“I definitely want to come out with at least one,” Hardy said. “I just don’t want to leave feeling that I could have done better. I don’t want to have any regrets.”

In the Class 1A girls 1,600 and 3,200, Boonsboro’s Sarah Zielinski enters both as the West region champ, also on a quest for her first state title.

“I just want to PR in both of my events,” she said. “The track is faster and the air is a lot better.”

In Class 2A, North Hagerstown’s Anthony Winter is hoping for another monster day. At last weekend’s West region meet, he won the 55 dash (6.49 seconds) and the shot put (50-0 3/4) with a pair of personal records.

“I can’t wait now,” Winter said after winning his second event last weekend. “That’s where hopefully it all comes together. Knowing I can win two events, it will be a long week in school.”

While Smithsburg’s Jonelle Jerwick is the area’s all-time best in the girls pole vault, indoors (10-7) and outdoors (11-0), the senior still doesn’t own a state title.

“I need the first-place points for the team,” said Jerwick, whose team finished a close second to Williamsport at the region meet.

Six of the county’s seven public schools will have representatives at Monday’s championships. South Hagerstown will compete in Class 3A on Tuesday.

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