One of the best high school golfers in Maryland will not be able to claim the top prize in the upcoming state scholastic tournament.

For the first time, the tournament will have a girls individual category. In the past, girls and boys competed together for individual honors.

However well-intentioned, the new split format means Seneca Valley's Clare Dolan, who recently won the Montgomery County title, will not be able to compete for the top prize.

"I wonder if this means that Clare could win the girls and boys individual titles?" said Seneca Valley Coach Bob Turnbull. "It's a shame in a way that this rule had to begin this year. Clare's so good, it might end up denying her the top trophy."

"Our executive council wanted to do something to get more girls involved in golf," said Ned Sparks, executive secretary of the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association. "They thought that by separating the competition into boys and girls, it would give more girls a chance to play. In the past, we often had more than 100 boys qualifying for the state tournament and just four or five girls."

Girls can qualify for the tournament in two ways. Like the boys, they can qualify individually by finishing in the top 20 percent in their local district qualifier. They can also reach the state tournament, which will be played Oct. 25-26 at the University of Maryland, by playing as one of the top five players on a team that qualifies for the tournament.

"The idea was to increase opportunities for girls to become more involved," said Sparks. "Too often in the past, the girls would get lost in the shuffle. This way, we'll be able to award trophies to the top 10 girls finishers, just like we have with the boys."

Matt Cullen has been named indoor track coach at Friendly. He coached the boys and girls cross country teams this fall and began to develop what could become a strong distance-running program there, leading the girls to a 6-3 record and the boys to a 5-4 mark.

If senior Mike McCusker had not been sick the past month, the Patriots might have finished third in the county. Just beginning to regain his early season form, McCusker is a dark-horse pick to win the Prince George's County championships at Fort Washington Oct. 26. (The meet was originally scheduled for Oct. 18, so there will be a two-week layoff for most county teams, which finished their dual-meet season last week.

The state regional meets will be held Nov. 2 and the championships Nov. 10 at Hereford High School.

Former Peary wrestling Coach Duane Black is Seneca Valley's new wrestling coach. Former Seneca assistant Jeff Laws will take over as Damascus' wrestling coach, but two other Montgomery County schools, Woodward and Poolesville, still need head coaches. Seven junior varsity openings also remain to be filled, according to county wrestling coordinator Ed Masood.

Annapolis defensive back Jay Johnson has intercepted six passes in his first six games. The Panthers have 15 interceptions. Annapolis has outscored its opponents, 113-25, and may be developing into Coach Al Laramore's first state-championship-caliber team since the Panthers won the Class AA title in 1978.