FROSTBURG, MD., JULY 22 -- Young and old have truly been juxtaposed at this sixth Maryland Sports Festival, perhaps nowhere more so than in the track and swimming competitions.
Two men stand hunched over the Gatorade dispenser on the side of the Frostburg State University track, where official competition is taking place for the first time in 10 years. The 1,500-meter racewalk has just concluded, with Greenbelt's Harvey Geller, 69, the victor (9 minutes 18.9 seconds) in the 65-69 age category.
Geller has had quite a weekend, winning gold medals in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter racewalks and a bronze in the 3,000-meter run. Track events is not enough challenge though -- Geller recently has completed triathlons in White Oak and Greenbelt, winning his age division each time.
"I guess I have the right genes," Geller said, when asked to explain his athletic longevity. "I figure, it's use it or lose it, so I just keep going."
Geller, also an avid cyclist for many years, kept going right through St. Louis in last year's National Senior Olympics, winning a gold in the five-kilometer race, along with a silver and two bronzes. The retired National Cancer Institute official began running while at Brooklyn College in the 1940s and, save for an Army stint in France during World War II, has kept up the routine. He still bikes at least 100 miles a week.
Wheaton's Frank Luff, a year younger than Geller, comes chugging off the track. Earlier he captured the 3,000-meter run in 14:13.0, one-tenth of a second ahead of Baltimore's Jim Rowan.
Geller says he enjoys competing with men 30 years younger (awards are given for different age categories), but wishes more seniors entered. Such competition shows that "people our age are out there running, not just home sitting in a wheelchair," he said.
Meanwhile, up the hill in the Physical Education Center, several groups of squealing and anxious youngsters -- most clad in oversized shirts and shorts -- await the start of the day's swim competition. Among them are seven members of the Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club, which boasts more than 900 swimmers.
James Willhite, 9, will swim the 50-meter butterfly, freestyle and backstroke. He says backstroke is his favorite. Why does he compete? Willhite offers the most honest of answers: "Because it's fun."
Willhite, who started swimming when he was 6, says his idol is a RMSC alumnus, Mike Barrowman, who set the world record in the breaststroke last week at the Goodwill Games in Seattle.
Emily Trexler, also 9, also swims the 50 butterfly and also competes because it's fun.
Willhite would have made Barrowman proud, winning his backstroke final in 37.5. Trexler also shined, finishing second in the 50 fly (41.2) and fourth in the 50 back (43.2).
Notes: Carol Pelosi of Greenbelt won the women's crossbow archery gold medal with ease, finishing with 783 points. George McLean, her partner from Fort Washington, beat her score -- by five points -- to win the men's gold. Gaithersburg's Gil Frey was fifth (512 points). . . . In the 19-34 age group, Rockville's Kathleen Mallet won the 1,500- and 3,000-meter racewalks.
Rockville's Arthur Cook, 62 and a 1948 gold medalist in shooting at the London Olympics, earned a gold in small bore English competition. His wife, Mary, won a silver in the women's event. . . .
Three local women swept the tennis medals in the 55 age group: Mary Boswell of Damascus defeated Rockville's Marion Lawrence, 6-2, 6-2, for the gold, while University Park's Carolyn Gasnier won bronze. . . . Jeannette Conger, 58, of College Park, won the over-55 category in the 20-mile cycling road race.
A team of Western Maryland All-Stars upset Johnny's of Baltimore, 8-0, to win the baseball gold medal at Allegany Community College in Cumberland. Buzzy Jackson of Hagerstown struck out 10 to hand Johnny's its first shutout in two years.