Ranging from a 52-year-old former national judo champion to a 12-year-old air-shooting ace, more than 3,000 athletes will descend on the Maryland panhandle this weekend for the sixth annual Maryland Sports Festival.

The campus of Frostburg State University will host many of the 29 events (up from 12 in the inaugural festival in 1985), beginning today with competition in tennis and table tennis. Other sports will be contested at nearby Allegany Community College in Cumberland, as well as at the Patapsco Shooting Range in Marriottsville.

The festival is heralded as the largest state-wide competition in Maryland for amateur athletes. Participation is open to anyone who has resided in the state for more than 30 days prior to the games, including full-time students in Maryland schools and members of the armed forces stationed within the state.

James Narron, executive director of the Maryland State Games Foundation, says he is calmer this year than for the previous five festivals because of the outstanding preparation by western Maryland communities.

"They've welcomed us with open arms," Narron said. "This year, the athletes will have a true Olympic Village so they can live with other competitors. In the past, when we've held it in College Park or at UMBC {in Catonsville}, it's been like a commuting event. It will be a great experience for the athletes."

Among them are D.C.-area competitors.

Terence Bayly, 38, of Bowie, a medal-winner in last year's festival at the UMBC, hopes to repeat his track and field exploits.

In tennis, Silver Spring teenager Joshua Parr, winner of the 1989 Centennial Open, will look to improve on his third-place finish in festival singles competition last year, and Laurel's Michael Andrews, 26, an air-shooting specialist, will aim to repeat his 1989 Maryland-Virginia title in field target shooting.

And what of the judo and shooting champions?

Still an active competitor at 52, Faye Allen of College Park captured a national championship in judo (kata format) in 1975 and 1976.

Likely an active competitor for many years to come, Clint Books, 12, of Gaithersburg won a gold medal in BB-shooting at the games last year. Now he looks to repeat his accomplishment in air shooting.

Narron said he hopes the festival can serve as a catalyst for Maryland to land the U.S. Olympic Festival. He returned yesterday from Colorado Springs, where he had a 90-minute meeting with Harvey Schiller, executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"We're definitely bidding, aiming for probably 1995," Narron said. "We want to have three mini-Olympic Villages to house athletes, in College Park, Towson and UMBC. That can be manageable."