As if starting for Northern's top-ranked volleyball team hasn't been enough to keep Devin Karcesky busy, the senior also has been focusing on softball this fall. Or at least on her softball future.

Karcesky, a first-team all-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference and second-team All-Met pitcher, signed a letter-of-intent Nov. 10 to play for Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. Karcesky, who accepted a full scholarship, said she wanted to make her commitment before the start of her senior season to alleviate stress.

"I wanted to have a nice, relaxing senior season without having to worry about college," said Karcesky, who will begin working on her pitching when volleyball season is complete. [Northern played in the Maryland 3A volleyball final last night, after Southern Maryland Extra's weekend deadline.] "The early deadline was Nov. 15, and I knew that by then, I wanted to be settled on where I was going to go."

Last season, Karcesky was 18-2 with a 0.57 earned run average. She pitched eight shutouts, struck out 149 batters and walked 24 in 122 innings. Karcesky, who also considered Towson State, said she chose Rider because of the opportunity it provided--as well as the scenery.

"Rider's campus was smaller, more secluded--like me," said Karcesky, who visited the school in October. "I liked the location better. Plus, I got to spend the weekend with the team, and they were real nice. I was told I'd walk into a starting spot next year, and that--that sounded perfect, too."

Coaching New Coaches

The wrestling room at Calvert has not only become a breeding ground for college-bound wrestlers, but for head coaches as well. Three years ago, Calvert Coach Dave Kistler lost assistant Mark Wilding, who had been with him for seven years, to Patuxent. This season, former assistant Jeff Fowler--who turned in a three-year stint with the Cavaliers--has taken over as head coach at Northern.

Calvert won last year's SMAC and regional titles, before placing fourth at the state 3A/4A meet. Northern finished fifth in the SMAC.

"I'm very proud that both coaches here in the county have coached with me," said Kistler, now in his 11th season at Calvert. "I feel very good about that. And, just like Mark, I know Jeff will do a great job up there. Now it's time for me to get two new guys in there and see what we can do with them."

Two of Kistler's former wrestlers--Kevin Lyons and Billy Pawlowski--have taken over as assistants at Calvert.

Lyons, who wrestled at 145 pounds, was the first state place-winner under Kistler, finishing fourth at the state meet in 1993. Pawlowski was Kistler's first SMAC champion, winning the 125-pound class in 1992.

Fowler was also a standout wrestler, but not for Kistler. A 1987 graduate of Northern, Fowler wrestled against Kistler in the 185-pound class. He served as an assistant at Northern for six seasons before going to Calvert, and though he said he enjoyed his time with the Cavaliers, Fowler is thrilled to be back at his alma mater.

"It's real exciting to be back," Fowler said. "After just the first couple meetings and first couple days of practice, I'm pretty satisfied with what we have here."

Swimming Status Raised

Swimming has become an official sport in the SMAC, complete with a season-ending conference championship, now that La Plata and McDonough have added programs. A sport becomes official in the 12-school SMAC when more than half its members compete in it, and the addition of the two Charles County schools means seven SMAC schools have swim teams.

"It's getting bigger," said Thomas Stone Coach David Martin, whose program is in its second year of existence. "Bigger at our school, and bigger all-around. It appeared we had 25 or 30 bodies in the pool tonight. Last year, when it was all said and done, I think we had 17 or 18."

All three Calvert County schools--Calvert, Northern and Patuxent--have programs. So does Westlake, which became the first Charles County school to start a program three years ago. The seven participating schools will compete in a round-robin regular season from Dec. 11 to Feb. 12. The SMAC championship meet is scheduled for Feb. 19.