Oxon Hill star sprinter Luis Morales is hungry.
Morales wants to stand alone as the area's "sprint king" as well as lead the nation in the 100-meter dash, which he ran in a wind-aided 10.3 seconds last year to gain a national ranking.
This was supposed to be his year. Only he and Norman Edwards of Blair High School were returning from a stellar group of sprinters that shared the limelight last year. This winter at the Naval Academy Invitational, Morales clipped to a nation-leading 6.33-second clocking for 60 yards. But later in the season Troy Delamar of Pasadena, Calif., also ran 6.33.
On March 6, Morales won the Maryland Indoor State crown, but because of a machine malfunction, his electronic time was not recorded. Two days later, at the Eastern States Meet at Princeton University, Morales ran 6.31. That would have made him the national leader had not Keith Stanford of Southern High in Pennsylvania, whom Morales had beaten earlier in the season, also hit 6.31.
If the indoor season is any indication, a handful of Maryland runners could be at the top of the national lists with Morales.
Central's powerful foursome of sophomore Robin Benjamin, junior Pam Gaddy, and seniors Karen Woods and Pam Carter recently broke the indoor national girls mile relay by more than three seconds (3:46.59). They will be shooting for the remarkable 3:37.71 outdoor record.
Central has a secret weapon that may enable it to get closer to that record: Paulette Turner, who plays basketball during the indoor track season. Last year, in her first season of running, Turner clocked 2:15 in the 800-meter run. She should be able to improve on that and her mile relay leg this spring.
Benjamin, who won the Maryland Indoor State A 60-yard dash title, will battle for the title of "sprint queen" with Michelle Collins, who runs for Blair High School and D.C. International track club; Jan Harris of Oxon Hill; Wanda Eades of McKinley; and Kelly Jackson and Tomi Rucker, both of Coolidge.
Woods finally will get a shot at Coolidge's Rucker for supremacy in the intermediate hurdles. Last season, the two hurdlers exchanged the area record several times without ever meeting in the event. This year should settle things.
Suitland's Donald Battle started coming into his own at the Maryland Indoor Championships. His 1:11.6 (600-yard) and 2:13.9 (1,000-yard) clockings indicate that the Washington area has a budding superstar in its midst.
But as usual, in the quarter-mile and half-mile distances from this area, Battle will not go unchallenged. In Maryland, Battle will compete against Chip Jenkins from Georgetown Prep, Northern High's Rodney Giles, Oxon Hill's Santio Barbosa and Kelvin Jones from Fairmont Heights. In the District he will face H.D. Woodson junior Eugene Singletary and Gonzaga's Greg Coan. And in Virginia, there is Garfield's Joe Miller and four standout quartermilers at T.C. Williams.
Suitland's 3:20.7 mile relay is one of the nation's top marks indoors, and when the Rams battle T.C. Williams and Garfield, the Washington area record of 3:11.9 might be challenged.
In the long jump and triple jump, Calvert County sensation John Parker should be unbeatable until he faces Virginia indoor champion Roger Bennett of Fairfax. Bennett broke the 50-foot barrier this winter and Parker was near it last year. They could bring another national crown to this area.
The accompanying chart lists the top five runners in each event from schools in the Interhigh League, the Metro Conference, the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, the Virginia-Maryland Independent Conference, Northern Virginia, including the Commonwealth and Northwest AA districts, and independent schools in Prince George's, Montgomery, Howard, Frederick and Anne Arundel counties.