The curly-haired young man raking the long jump pit was indistinguishable from the countless other track officials in pink T-shirts and red visors who gathered at Meade's Mullins Field Saturday and Sunday.
However, 19-year-old Chip Ryan's track talents, no longer on display here, were a major reason why approximately 1,350 athletes from a dozen states and the District of Columbia were present for the third running of the East Coast Inviational age group track who was pretty good, and we found out that most of the good meets were on the West Coast," said Charles (Buzz) Ryan, Chip's father, founder of the meet, and the chairman of themaryland Track and Field Development Association, which sponsors the competition. "I was down working with my son and other kids in Bowie and we wanted a chance for him to do things... Something like this was great for him."
"My father wanted to expose me to the best competition I could compete in," said Chip, who now long jumps and sprints as a sophomore at Tufts University in Boston. "He started out (coaching) me and I reached a lecel in high school where you can have only one coack. He had given me his (incoaching). Now, he's giving me one of the best competitions."
Buzz Ryan, who lives at 3007 Bendix La. in Bowie, said he started thinking about creating an East Coast meet 10 years ago. By the time the competition was created in 1975, Chip was nearing the end of his career in age-group track, which includes youngsters aged 7 to 17. Still, the meet offers an opportunity to youths who can't afford to travel to the distant nationals. This year's boys' nationals were held in Albuquerque, N.M., and the girls' nationals were staged in Xenia, Ohio.
The meet, which started with about 500 competitors in 1975, has grown to a point where the two-day format may have to be expanded. There were nearly 24 hours of competition crammed into last weekend as 91 teams attended for the 330 different age-group races plus field events.
"I ran into a lot of people when my son was running who helped my son," said Buzz Ryan. "So now that my son's in college, it's my turn to help some of them."
Monica Roy, 10, of 805 Booker Dr. in Sear Pleasant, captured national titles in the 400 and 880 for 8-9-year'olds, but found little difference between the Ohio competition and the Maryland meet. "I think it (the East Coast Invitational) is harder than the nationals. I ran faster in the 880 than in the nationals," said Roy, who won the 8-9-year-olds' 880 and mile last weekend. She said she particularly liked last weekend's meet "because they give out big medals. We have a board in the basement where we hold the trophies."
Contestants competed in age brackets derived from their ages as of Jan. 1, 1977.
Juanita Alston, 16, of 6624 Ronald Rd. in District Heights, won the national 14-15-year-olds' long jump. She also finds the East Coast meet comparable to the nationals. "In the nationals, there are more people," said Alston, who set a meet record last weekend with 18 feet, 10 1/2 inches in the long jump. "In the nationals, the competition is tough, but here the competition is just as tough . . . but I'd rather win in the nationals because it's more publicity."
Larry Rosen, who won gold meals in the 16-17-year-olds' shot put and discus last weekend, looks forward to the East Coast Invitiational. "This is my favorite meet," said the resident of 3913 Rickover Rd. in Silver Spring, who set winning the discus last year. "It's directed so well. I always do well."
This year's meet offered Rosen an added bonus as he entered a spirited discus shootout with defending girls' 16-17-year-olds' discus champ Helene Connell of Jackson Township. N. J.
Rosen said the next time he passes through New Jersey he will collect a free dinner he won in a bet with Connell when he out-tossed her in the discus. However, Rosen had to sweat a little as his distance of 168 feet, 9 inches barely held up as Connell threw the disc 165 feet, 3 inches to add more than seven feet to the existing national record.
Joining Rose and Roy as a double winner was Darren Smith of Palmer Park. Smith took the age 7-and-under 100 and 9-and-under 220 events.
Lisa Fox (10-11) of Oxon Hill and Gerald Thomas (12-13) took victories in the high jump, and Bowie's Jay Diamond trimphed in the 12-13-year-olds' long jump.
Eric Anderson of Silver Spring added the 10-11-year-olds' 880 gold medal to his national victory. Beth Hanlon of Olney placed first in the 7-and-under 880.
Other area victors were: John Peacock of Laurel in the 12-13-year-olds' shot put, David Jackson of Seat Pleasant and Wayne Williams of Oxon Hill in 10-11-year-olds' miles, Melissa Hill of Seat Pleasant in the 16-17-year-olds' 440, and Brandywine's Derrick Strickland in the 14-15-year-olds' 100.