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Washington County boys track & field preview

Leopards riding momentum into spring

March 15, 2012|By ANDREW MASON | andrewm@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Preps Previews
Washington County Preps Previews

The Smithsburg boys had the ride of their lives last month as they returned home as Maryland Class 1A indoor track and field state champions, escorted by the police and fire departments.

“The sirens were going and people were outside their homes waving,” said Smithsburg coach T.J. Hood. “The kids loved it. The looks on those boys’ faces getting off the bus, there was no doubt in my mind they wanted to do it again.”

Their next opportunity is this spring.

While the Leopards have won six boys team titles at states in outdoor track, this is their first time beginning an outdoor season as the reigning indoor champs.

“Winning indoor is a new position for us, so it’s a unique challenge to win an indoor title and then go into outdoor. We’ve never done that before,” Hood said. “But it’s great momentum, no denying that. The kids are very focused. They know what they can achieve.”

They have all their big guns from the winter back this spring, except for sprinter Caleb Cardone, who is playing baseball. But they picked up sprinter Ronald Hardy, who played basketball.

Leading the way are Luke Daigneault, who won indoor state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200, and sprinter Chad Greene, who placed third in the 300 and teamed with Zane Gardenhour, Brandon Athey and Cardone to win the 4x200. Then there’s Devon Stover, who placed second in the 55 hurdles and third in the pole vault, and Nick Porter, who was the runner-up in the pole vault. And Gardenhour, a placewinner in the 500, finally will be able to compete in his best two events, the long and triple jumps, which aren’t contested indoors.

Smithsburg also has a pair of solid throwers in Preston Miller and Brady Boyer.

“We have a nice crew of guys and we’re balanced,” Hood said. “And they’ve been working their tails off.”

Their season goals are pretty clear.

“It’s always a great goal to win the county title,” Hood said. “But for our program, our main goal is the state title.”

Williamsport

While the Leopards might be the team to beat in Class 1A, the Wildcats, of Class 2A, are the team to beat in Washington County.

They dominated at the indoor county meet this year, winning 10 of 13 events and running away with the team title, while Smithsburg finished a distant second.

But at the state meet, Williamsport, which moved from 1A to 2A this school year, had to settle for sixth.

“We’re 2A, and 2A has always been hard knocks. I knew it would be tough on us,” coach Teresa Weaver said. “Hopefully, our cards will fall a little bit better at states outdoors than it did indoors. But in the county, we should be strong.”

Their strength is in the distance events, where they’re led by senior superstar Evan Hardy, who won state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 last month, upping his individual state-title count to six.

Other standouts include the Zeger twins, Jesse and Kevin, in the hurdles and high jump, Collin Linton in the sprints, Theron Palmer in middle distance, Cody Grams in distance and Nick Berchock in pole vault.

“We’ve got some new throwers coming out,” Weaver said. “That was kind of a weak point indoors.”

Boonsboro

While the Warriors are the defending outdoor county champs, they lost a lot to graduation, namely Coby Gussio, last year’s Herald-Mail athlete of the year.

But Boonsboro has proven that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

“We’re building,” coach Becky Walter said. “But I said that indoors this year, and we came out and placed second in the state (behind Smithsburg in 1A).

“The hardest part is going to be filling in events, because there are so many more events outdoors. But we have some great leaders and great potential.”

J.R. Lowery is the defending state champ in the shot put, while Nick Seabright won a state title in the pole vault last month.

Walter said she also is expecting big things from Gerick Allen and Britton Beard in the throws and Sean Snyder and Ethan Allnutt in the distance and middle distance events.

“We don’t have a Gussio,” Walter said. “But we have a lot of guys who are working hard.”

North Hagerstown

South Hagerstown’s losses are rival North’s gains.

Reggie Moody (jumps, relays) and Bryan Durboraw (distance), who were both standouts for the Rebels, are now Hubs.

“That has to be two of their best guys,” North coach Robert Waugh said. “But we’re more than happy to have them.”

The Hubs also have a pair of solid sprinters in Matt Toth and Phillip Butler (the football star), while Trey King can hold his own in the throws.

Improving on last year’s fifth-place showing at the county meet is a goal for the Hubs, who likely are shooting for much more than that.

“I’m always confident in my team. I always think we can compete with anybody at all times,” Waugh said. “But I definitely think our boys will be much improved from last year and will be able to compete. We definitely have some guys who are stepping up and ready to make names for themselves.

“This is the hardest working group I’ve had,” he added. “Hard work can take you places.”

South Hagerstown

It’s quite clear to the Rebels where they need to improve.

“We got third in the county meet indoors this year, but we didn’t have anyone, not one person, in the high jump, pole vault or hurdles, so that’s something we have to change,” coach Dwayne Freeman said. “We’re addressing those issues, and if we can get some points there, we’re going to be pretty competitive. We have a lot of potential.”

The Rebels should hold their own in the sprints and sprint relays with Aaron Waters, Isiaha Smith and newcomer C.J. Davis, a senior football and basketball standout whom Freeman said has loads of track potential.

Daniel Hockensmith, who had a breakout indoor season, leads the way in the middle distance and distance events.

While the county seemingly is as competitive as ever, Freeman hasn’t lost sight of the big picture — the big Class 3A meets in May.

“I’m looking at regionals, how many kids can we get to states,” he said. “We have kids who want to get there and come home with a medal. That’s where our focus is.”

Clear Spring

Clear Spring is a small school with a small track team, and it doesn’t make it any easier that the Blazers compete in a track-rich area.

“It’s a tough county. State championships are brought here basically every year,” said coach Doug McBurney, who has about 20 boys on his roster. “But we’re not going to make any excuses. We’ll take what we have and work with it and try to get better every day.”

He said he has high hopes for Quinn Hoover (middle distance) and Jesse Gentry (sprints).

“We just want to try to improve and get some kids to do good things at the bigger meets and get some kids to states,” McBurney said. “We’re just going to continue to work hard.”

Hancock

With only about a dozen boys on the team, the Panthers likely won’t win any meets.

But new coach Dave Mahaffey has been around the sport long enough to know it’s not all about team scores.

“It’s about individual success,” he said. “It’s a sport you don’t have to depend on anyone else. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, the highest jump, farthest throw and fastest time wins.”

He said senior pole vaulter Aaron Wagner, a state placewinner indoors, has become a leader.

“Pole vault is his primary event, but he’s more than willing to move around and try new things and find more success,” Mahaffey said. “He’s been leading by example and helping to keep people organized.”

He said a couple of sophomores also have shown a lot of potential — Harrison Layman (throws/sprints) and Josh Stotler (hurdles).

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