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Parasiliti: Leopards' loss merely proves they're mortal

September 18, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Sometimes a revelation hits when you least expect it.

Just ask the guy who came up with adding another layer of crème and a third cookie to Oreos.

In sports, though, actions cause reactions.

Thus was the case last Tuesday when the Williamsport volleyball team swept two-time defending Maryland Class 1A state champion Smithsburg in an MVAL Antietam match.

The action caused a “Huh” reaction. And then came the revelation.

The Leopards are mortal.

OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but you have to admit, the Leopards were as good as it gets in Washington County prep sports.

Williamsport ended Smithsburg’s 40-match win streak which started more than two years ago at the start of the 2009 season. It was a great run, but still, it was inevitable.

“I can’t get mad about (the loss),” Smithsburg coach Rachel Brashear said. “We won 40 games in a row. It was bound to happen at some point.”

It’s a realistic view, but oh, so true.

In sports, there’s no place you want to go but up and the view from the top is the best seat in the house.

But in high school sports — and more specifically Washington County — “up” has a lid on it and who owns the ticket for that prime seat is ever changing.

It sounds cruel, but most high school championship teams have a shelf life shorter than milk.

Every two years, maybe three, everything shifts. Dynasties are hard to come by.

That’s because the enrollment is so tiny in the majority of this area’s schools.

Star athletes last two or sometimes three years, if they are advanced enough to start as sophomores.

Our schools are really blessed if they have two or three top performers who play and graduate together. Even more so if there is overlapping talent which continues the winning momentum.

Washington County has had dynasties, specifically with Class 1A volleyball and track teams. At small schools, a few talented individuals can effectively pave the way to state titles.

Smithsburg can attest to that in girls track with a run of eight straight titles from 1996-2003, while Williamsport notched four consecutive volleyball titles from 2002-05.

In fact, a Washington County school has owned at least a part of the Class 1A state girls track title in 14 of the last 15 years. It has had the 1A volleyball champ in 20 of the last 30 seasons.

For years, Williamsport owned the area’s volleyball holy grail, but Smithsburg is a close second.

Names like Rishell, Bachtell, Fulk, Miller, Wilkes, Snodderly and Brennan — among others from these two schools — have thrilled fans for decades. Now, new names will have to carry the torch to keep it that way.

Who wins is very cyclical, but truth be told, very few have done it twice in undefeated fashion.

Smithsburg has enjoyed its turn for that “perfect storm” of volleyball talent in the last couple of years. For now, Williamsport has come back again as a challenger for the crown.

Tuesday’s loss doesn’t put an end to Smithsburg.

This time, though, if the Leopards repeat, it will be as mere mortals.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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