Lefty Driesell hasn't fulfilled his pledge to make Maryland the UCLA of the East in basketball. Jerry Claiborne got Maryland to a major bowl in football but couldn't quite win it. But there is a competition in which Maryland teams long have maintained dominance beyond the wildest dreams of Driesell or Claiborne - dairy cattle judging.
No state is even within hailing distance of Maryland's record in either the national intercollegiate or 4-H team competition, and the collegiate teams that have been able to challenge Maryland in recent years have done so by stocking up with recruits from the Maryland 4-Hers.
Last year's competition was Oct. 4 at Columbus, Ohio, in conjunction with the North American Dairy Show. Teams from 34 states entered - 136 individuals - and Maryland 4-Hers, coached by University of Maryland personnel, swept to victory convincingly over second-place Ohio and third-place New York. The University of Maryland team had an off-year, finishing seventh.
Can this be considered a sport?
The ingredients for a winner are stamina and concentration, mental quickness and adaptability, confidence and wisdom, practice and dedication.
In a true sense these competitors are engaging in a sport more directly concerned with real life than most ' they are playing at decisions that in later life could mean thousand if not millions of dollars. Everybody needs milk - all 300 million of us - in one form or another, and the ability to select the cow that will produce the most milk over the most years for the laest time and trouble is an ability most valuable.
How have the Maryland 4-Hers, who must be under 1 of the year they compete, won the championship in 22 of the 53 years it has been held? Last year's team is typical.
The four members were selected Aug. 30 at the Maryland State Fair at Timonium from hundreds of 4-Hers who had been competing all summer in clubs, in county contests, regionals and finally at the State Fair. The four were Lee Hill, 18, of Kennedyville; Pennie Moffett, 18, of Chestertown; Richard Morris, 17, of Gaithersburg; and G. Barry Schaeffer, 19, of Germantown.
Thereafter they practiced, as much as eight hours a day, wherever and whenever their coaches could find quality cows to put together test classes.
Competitive judging is patterned after the way cattle are judged at fairs, usually in groups of four the same age. Each group is ranked by a panel of experts and point values are assigned for proper placement of each animal. If a class is placed exactly right by a contestant he gets 50 points. For each misplacement, the point value is subtracted from 50.
The contestants do more than simply turn in cards on each class with their placings. On several classes they must give reasons to justify the placings. They are graded on both the accuracy of their reasons and their presentation - poise, forcefulness, speaking manner, organization.
The competition day is long and grueling, and that makes the achievement of the 1976 Maryland 4-H team even more remarkable. They had spent much of the night before in the emergency room of a Columbus hospital.
In the afternoon their coaches had taken them across the street from their motel to a bowling alley to relax. The four team members decided to stay and bowl one more game when the coaches had to leave for a meeting. Hurrying back to the motel to get ready for dinner, they paused at the edge of the street and a driver stopped and motioned them to cross. But a driver in the next lane didn't stop and both girls were hit. Moffett was knocked to the pavement and Hill thrown up over the hood onto the windshield.
"About all I can remember is seeing the lady wave us across the street," Moffett said. "The next thing I knew Lee and I were lying in the street and the boys were trying to make us fell better by telling us jokes. At least Barry was: Richard just kept getting grayer and grayer."
Hill recalls thinking she was dead until she saw Moffett bending over her.
"I finally realized I must be alive if I could see her asking me if I was all right."
Actually Hill was less severely injured than Moffett, who spent nearly a week on crutches with a sprained ankle.
"It didn't really hurt when I got hit or even when I got up to walk around," Hill said. "But my hip started so stiffen up on the way to the hospital and hurt pretty badly the next day."
Moffett gave in to the crutches but refused to have a cast put on her arm.
"I said, 'No was!" I wouldn't have been able to write reasons or take notes."
Head coach John Morris, extension dairy specialist at Maryland University, feels the accident made his charges want to win all the more.
"They were still sky high and just as determined," he said. His regret is that this was not a year for international competiton. Maryland teams have swept that all eight times they've represented the United States.