If the names Roderick Tolbert and Terrance Sheppard had been mentioned last year in conversations about track and field, they would have drawn a blank.
This year, senior Tolbert and his junior teammate were the force behind Eleanor Roosevelt's first Class AA state indoor track championship. Coach Dan Rincon, in his second year at Roosevelt, and Bill Goodman, his assistant and former University of Maryland teammate, hope it will carry over to the outdoor season.
The outdoor high school track and field season gets underway at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington Friday and Saturday when most of the Washington area teams will be present for the Harringer Invitational.
Tolbert, who came out on top of a battle with Bowie's Phil Brooks and Friendly's Erwin Matthews in the 55-meter dash indoors and also won the 300, will be facing the same competition in the outdoor sprints. Add Friendly's Rod Scott to the list and the AA sprint field is very good.
Sheppard, who took third in the AA indoor 500 and finished fourth in the 300, will be running the long sprints outdoors. Competition will come from Crossland's Mike Carter, who won the 500 indoors and finished second to Tolbert in the 300. Also running the 200 and 400 for Friendly outdoors will be Doug Daniels.
The AA distance picture will have many new faces this spring.
Returning from a sixth-place finish in the 3,200 is Whitman's Eric Meleney, this year's indoor champion in that event. Bowie's John Kipfer also came on strong at the close of the indoor season.
Friendly's Byron Brown emerged as the winter season's top AA miler.
Gaithersburg's Charlie Gassaway is back to defend his long jump title (23 feet) and hopes to improve on a second place finish in the triple jump.
Besides Friendly, Old Mill will be strong outdoors with its field-event performers.
Heading the list in AA girls track is Suitland.
Last year outdoors, Suitland's girls were runner-up to Old Mill by 19 points. This year, the Rams won their second straight state indoor meet, by 35 points.
Alicia Jackson, who took two fourths outdoors last year, won the indoor 800 and 1,600. Suitland won all three relays indoors, with Jackson running on two of them. Ferris Gilliam, who can also high jump, and Sherrill Carter combine with Jackson to give the Rams a good chance to take at least two relays outdoors.
Ernestine Marsh of Northwestern is the top returning hurdler. Last year, she won the 300-meter intermediates and took second in the 100-meter highs.
Freshman distance star Annie Hoefler of Springbrook, who broke all state records in cross country this fall, will return to competition outdoors. She did not compete indoors.
Central has been synonymous with winning in Class A girls track . Last spring, the Falcons won their fifth state title, including their fourth in a row. Last month, Coach Ed Bowie's team won its fourth indoor title with only six competitors.
Senior Sharon Spriggs, the indoor champion at 300, 500 and 800 meters, is Central's big scorer. Others to be counted on are sophomore Kellie Roberts, who became ill before the regional meet and therefore did not qualify for the state, sprinter Nicki Young and senior Rhonda Jones, a hurdler.
Kennedy's girls return with two outdoor state champions. Junior Allison Armstrong hopes to improve her best of 37 feet in the shot put. Senior Beth Jacobson will be going for her fourth outdoor two-mile title.
Central's boys won both the indoor and outdoor Class A state titles last year.
The Falcons are led by distance star Kirk Young. He won the state 800 and 1,600 titles indoors, but lost to Rockville's Dave Petzold in the 3,200.
Central's strength extends to senior Delancy Richardson in the short sprints and junior John Robertson in the long sprints.
In his first indoor performance for Paint Branch, senior John White had the state's fastest time in the 55-meter hurdles.
Walter Johnson's Dave Huffman, the best high-jumper in the area at 6-8, returns to seek the state record he barely missed indoors.
In Class B, the boys state championship is up for grabs. Indoors, Howard beat Wicomico by only four points, with only four first-place points.
In Class B girls, Milford Mill, which ran away from the competition indoors, is looking to Lori Amos, who won four events, to lead it to a state outdoor title.