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Indoor Track: Warriors, Leopards have sights set on state titles

February 18, 2012|By ANDREW MASON | andrewm@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Rival coaches Becky Walter, of Boonsboro, and Ray Shriver, of Smithsburg, came to a friendly agreement before Monday’s Maryland Class 1A State Indoor Track & Field Championships at Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover.

“I told Becky the other night, ‘Let’s just come home with both the titles. You take the girls title, and we’ll take the boys,’” Shriver said. “She thought it was a great idea.”

That’s exactly what their teams did at last weekend’s West region meet. However, this is states, where team titles have been tough to come by for Washington County.

Williamsport won the 1A girls title in 2009, still the only indoor team championship ever won by a county school, girls or boys.

While Walter is the first to say that titles aren’t won on paper, that doesn’t stop her from crunching countless numbers on her spreadsheets to make projections.

“I’ve looked at it from a few different angles, based on what was done at the region meets, what was done throughout the season and how things played out last year,” Walter said. “It looks like the real battle will be between us and Western Tech (for the girls title). Right now, I’ve got us roughly about 20 points ahead, but I’d like to see a bigger margin than that to be comfortable, because anything can happen.”

Last year, Western Tech won its second straight 1A girls team title, while Boonsboro finished second.

This year, the Warriors have star sprinter Abby Duncan, a four-time state champ outdoors who is competing indoors for the first time this season. They also have Sarah Zielinski, the defending indoor state champ in the 1,600 and 3,200, and a load of other standout performers.

At the West region meet, the Boonsboro girls took first place in 9 of 13 events and ran away with the team championship.

“It’d be nice to see nine titles at states, but that will be pretty difficult,” Walter said. “But team titles can be won by seconds and thirds and even fourths and fifths. Like I told the kids, every point counts.

“What helps us is that we have someone who can score in every event, whereas Western Tech doesn’t have much in the way of field events or distance. The 300 through 800 is their strong suit.”

Walter’s projections also have the Smithsburg boys team clearly at the front of the pack, with her Boonsboro boys in the mix for second place. The two teams finished 1-2 at the region meet.

“It’s going to be tight. It’s going to be a real close meet,” said Shriver, who admitted he was conservative with his team’s projected score. “We have it almost a dead heat between us, Boonsboro and North Carroll with Northwestern (Baltimore) and Brunswick in the hunt, too.”

The Leopards are led by Chad Greene (sprints), Caleb Cardone (sprints), Devon Stover (hurdles, pole vault) and Luke Daigneault (distance).

“We have a great group of boys, and I think they’re ready to do it,” Shriver said. “They’re peaking at the right time. We’re excited, anxiously awaiting.”

The Boonsboro boys have title contenders in J.R. Lowery (shot put) and Nick Seabright (pole vault). Lowery, who’s the defending champ and unbeaten this winter, has the top throw in the state this season of all classifications (55 feet, 3 inches). The 1A meet record is 55-10.

“J.R. is excited. He wants some competition,” Walter said. “He’s thrown some monsters in practice. I’m just waiting for a 57.”

Williamsport will be led into Monday’s action by Evan Hardy. The senior, who won 1A state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 last winter, will try to duplicate the feat in the more competitive 2A races this year.

“It’s going to be all out,” Hardy said. “You can’t have anything left.”

North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown will compete in the 3A championships Tuesday at the Prince George’s Complex.

Action begins Monday at 11 a.m. and Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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