The Maryland Class AA high school indoor track and field championships begin today at 3 p.m. at the Baltimore National Guard Fifth Regiment Armory.
The Class A championships were held Tuesday and the B/C teams competed yesterday at the Armory.
Prince George's AA athletes are once again favorites today. Teams from that county have dominated the indoor championships. A Prince George's boys team has won the title every year since 1981, and a P.G. girls team has won every year since 1978.
In the boys division, Eleanor Roosevelt and Friendly have been battling back and forth for county bragging rights. The Patriots lost the county meet to Roosevelt, then reversed the order in the Class AA Region II meet two weeks ago.
Friendly is better at the sprints while Roosevelt is better in the middle distances. Friendly's sprinters include all-America honorable mention Rod Scott, Erwin Matthews and Doug Daniels, and the Patriots are sure bets to place high in the 55-meter dash and the sprint relay.
Roosevelt counters with Roderick Tolbert, who beat Scott in the 60 at the county meet, and Terrance Sheppard (300 and 500 meters). That duo heads a quality 1,600-meter relay team.
Friendly has several solid distance runners who have blossomed of late. Byron Brown won both the 800 and mile at the regional meet. Teammate Mike McCusker has consistently beaten Roosevelt's Jeff Merkowitz and David Ward -- until the regional meet.
Also contending for victories in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter events is Whitman's Eric Meleney, who led his team to a Region I title.
Roosevelt's unchallenged strength lies in the field events. Damon Gutterman (pole vault) and John Duvall (high jump) won their specialities at the county and regional meets.
Anne Arundel power Old Mill, which won its region, could challenge. Most of Old Mill's points are produced by strong finishes in the field events.
On the girls side, Severna Park has emerged as a Class AA power to be reckoned with. Its scoring is well distributed through all 12 events.
Defending champion Suitland, High Point and Severna Park all are riding regional titles into the state meet. The Rams' strength rests on the shoulders of senior distance runner Alicia Jackson. If she can capture the 800 and 1,600, as she did in the region meet, Suitland will get 20 important points.
High Point scored well in its region meet with Kathy Raisbeck winning the 1,600 and 3,200. Dash and hurdle points, from Hawa Daramy and Yaa Obeng, will give High Point large gains in the state.
For Suitland, Alicia Bynum's hurdling points and Sherrill Carter's long-sprint points will help the team's chances.