What are the best high school teams in Frederick this winter?
Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ll likely have to wait until next spring to find out. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association postponed fall and winter sports until after the first semester, which ends in January, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
So to help fill the void, The Frederick News-Post thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport.
Each week, we’ll feature a sport and list contenders from years past in that sport. Readers can visit www.fredericknewspost.com to vote for the team they think is best. We’ll do this for all sports, fall, winter and spring.
Each Thursday, when we list candidates for another sport, we’ll reveal the team from the previous week’s sport that got the most votes.
This week’s sport: Boys indoor track and field. May the best team win.
1994-95 Linganore Lancers
Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion; Frederick County champion
These Lancers became the first Frederick County boys indoor track and field team to win an MPSSAA state title.
And fittingly, this group of pioneers was guided by a coach, Barbara Leishman, who knew what it was like to make such history. During her senior year of high school, Leishman helped the 1979-80 Frederick Cadets become the first Frederick County girls indoor track and field team to win an MPSSAA state title. Leishman won the shot put crown, ran on the winning 880 relay team and placed second in the high jump at states that year.
Leishman’s Linganore team was no overnight success. The previous season, the Lancers won their first county meet title and placed second at states. This time, they defended their county crown before beating second-place Seneca Valley 57-52 for the state crown.
At the state meet, Linganore got wins from pole vaulter Nathan Fee and the 4x800 relay team of Steve Rutter, Patrick Clemons, Wes McDonough and Steve Raymond.
At the county meet, the Lancers got wins from Jeff Gallart (who won the 55 hurdles with a county record 7.9), Fee (pole vault), Kevin Carpenter (shot put, an event he won at the 1996 2A-1A state meet) and the 4x800 relay team, which also set a county mark.
Frederick County would have to wait eight years for another boys indoor track and field team to win a state title, and the program that broke that drought had come tantalizingly close to winning the big prize numerous times before finally breaking through (see below).
2002-03 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Class 2A-1A state champion, Frederick County runner-up
Under legendary coach Don Boyer, Middletown was Frederick County’s first boys indoor track and field dynasty, winning 12 of the first 14 county meets.
But heading into the 2002-03 season, the Knights had yet to win a state title. They sure had come close, though, being a runner-up at the state meet four times.
Two of those second-place finishes had occurred in the previous two seasons, and another one — in 1999 — saw the Knights lose by a single point.
So when Middletown got that elusive first state title in 2003, Boyer was understandably moved, especially after not being certain his team would win that day. Middletown ended up edging runner-up Loch Raven 41-39.
“When he was handed a sheet that said he had won the meet, the usually humble Boyer was quite excited,” according to a story in The Frederick News-Post.
“After all these years of being runner up, we finally won it,” Boyer told the News-Post.
Leading the way for Middletown at the state were Justin Myers, who won the 1,600 and 3,200 runs, and Mark Gouker, who won the pole vault. Bryce McKinney placed third in the state in the 500 and 800.
Middletown didn’t have to wait nearly as long for its second state title as it did for the first, winning again in 2007 when it was 3A-2A co-champion with La Plata.
2009-10 Thomas Johnson Patriots
Accomplishments: Class 4A state champion, Frederick County champion
No, this wasn’t the first Frederick County boys indoor track and field team to win a Class 4A state title. That honor went to the 2008-09 Patriots, who were co-champs with Gaithersburg.
But this Nick Snyder-coached TJ team not only defended its 4A crown, it became the first — and to date, only — Frederick County boys indoor track and field team to win a 4A state title outright, beating runner-up Suitland 73.66-67.
Any talk of this state champion has to begin with pole vaulter Erick Artusio, a senior who was literally at the peak of his powers as a high school athlete.
At the state meet, Artusio successfully defended his 4A pole vault title by clearing a height of 15 feet, 1½ inches. Don’t overlook that half inch — it allowed Artusio to break the overall state meet record (regardless of classification) of 15 feet, 1 inch set by Glenelg’s Pat Tvarkunas in 1996.
Artusio’s overall state record still stands, and the only other Frederick County boys indoor track and field athlete who currently holds an overall state record is Oakdale’s Kyle Lund, whose performance and team will be discussed later in this story.
No wonder the Penn State-bound Artusio, who had vaulted a personal best 15-3 at the county meet, was The Frederick News-Post field athlete of the year. But TJ also happened to have The Frederick News-Post Runner of the Year on its 2009-10 roster. That would be Marquis Woodyard, who went on to play football at James Madison University.
Woodyard came up big for TJ at the state meet, winning the 55 hurdles with a time of 7.41, which is still good enough to remain on the MPSSAA’s list of state meet top 10 performances in each event.
Just as importantly, Woodyard overcame a 30-meter deficit on the final leg in the 1,600 relay, where he, Brandon Brownfield, Richard Newman and Fabian Gonzalez won with a time of 3:25.91 over second-place Suitland, helping the Patriots seal their title.
“I knew we had to stay in the top three for the team championship, but I just wanted to win the race,” Woodyard said. “I found that extra gear on the final lap. I had to do it for my teammates.”
TJ also got crucial points in other events from athletes like Gonzalez, who was fourth in the 300 and fifth in the 500 (which he won at the county meet).
Speaking of the county meet, TJ won its second straight county meet title during this season. The program would win the next two county meets, too, as well as the 2012 Class 3A state crown.
2009-10 Walkersville Lions
Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, Frederick County runner-up
Don’t penalize the Lions for not winning the Frederick County meet title — they finished second to eventual Class 4A state champ Thomas Johnson.
Besides, the Lions not only put up a respectable showing at counties, finishing with 91 points to TJ’s 107, but they went to win the program’s first indoor track and field state crown by beating runner-up Oakland Mills 62-38.
Walkersville’s title came during a trying period for the sport in this area. Budget issues prompted Frederick County Public Schools to consider putting indoor track on the chopping block.
“It’s the perfect ending to a difficult season,” Walkersville coach Lee Palmer told The Frederick News-Post back then. “From all the adversity surrounding indoor track [possibly] being canceled in Frederick County to all the missed time due to the weather, everything was saying, ‘You can’t.’ Yet, our kids somehow found a way to come here and get the job done.”
One of those athletes was Jose Depadua, who won the 300 dash and placed second in the 55 dash at the state meet. A junior at the time, Depadua went on to be a standout receiver and kick returner for Bryant University.
Also at states, Walkersville got wins from Lucas Dayhoff in the shot put (with a school-record 47 feet, 7¼ inches) and its 3,200 relay team of Ryan Hub, Josh Miller, Zach Zeller and Stephen Keith (with a school-record 8:17.98).
2018-19 Linganore Lancers
Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion, Frederick County runner-up
After sweating out a one-point win to capture a state title the previous season, it appeared Linganore’s 2018-19 team might have to endure another close call to defend its state crown.
But then in the span of about an hour, Linganore got four wins at the state meet. Just like that, the Lancers not only were well on their way to winning the program’s third indoor state crown, but they were in the process of earning their largest margin of victory at a state meet, a 72.5-41 win over runner-up Chopticon.
During that productive hour, the Lancers got wins from Carter Holsinger (pole vault, 14 feet, 7 inches), Joey Felton (55 dash, 6.45 seconds), Michael Belmaggio (3,200 run, 9:39.08) and Colby Bannon (high jump, 6-2).
“It was crazy,” Linganore coach Bill Eckard told The Frederick News-Post. “Blood pressure was going all over the place. We started with nothing. We had no 4x800 relay. All of a sudden, we started knocking them down. It was nuts.”
Holsinger, a junior, was in the thick of a stellar career. His vault that day was good enough to make the MPSSAA’s state indoor meet top 10 performances list. He would win his third indoor pole vault state crown as a senior before continuing his career at Mount St. Mary’s.
Belmaggio, who went on to compete at UMBC, also defended his title at that state meet.
As for Felton and Bannon, both spent the previous fall as contributors for a Linganore football team that reached the Class 3A state championship game, where it fell 17-14 to Franklin.
At the Frederick County meet, the Lancers finished second to eventual Class 2A state champ Oakdale, getting wins from Felton (55 dash), Belmaggio (3,200 run), Holsinger (pole vault) and Bannon (high jump).
2019-20 Oakdale Bears
Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, Frederick County champion
This program, which didn’t even exist until 2010, became a power in a hurry. The 2019-20 Oakdale Bears won their third state title, tying the relatively older TJ and Linganore for the county lead.
While any of those state championship teams were worthy of being included on this list, this edition of the Bears featured an ideal blend of standouts and depth that allowed them to win their second straight 2A state crown by rolling to an 84-62.5 win over Milford Mill. No Frederick County boys indoor team ever piled up that many points at a state meet (Oakdale had the previous high with 81 the previous season).
Leading the way was Brigham Young-bound senior Kyle Lund, one of the most notable track athletes in Frederick County history.
The previous season, Lund won the 800 run with a time (1:56.77) that still ranks on the MPSSAA’s indoor meet top 10 performances list (regardless of class). But as a senior, Lund obliterated that stellar time, winning with a 1:52.57 that beat the previous overall state-meet record by more than three seconds.
At states, Lund also won the 1,600 run and was on winning 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams. The 4x400 relay team, which included Lee Goodson, Matthew Moran and Jonah Childress, set a 2A state record with a 3:26.72.
Unfortunately for opponents, Lund was far from Oakdale’s only weapon.
“We always say we are a brotherhood. We have each other’s back, no matter what,” Oakdale coach Dave Lillard said. “The funny thing is today, we didn’t need anyone’s back. Everyone brought it. Everyone scored, which is pretty amazing. It’s not often you bring 13 guys to a state meet and they all score.”
For instance, finishing second behind Lund in the 1,600 was UNC Wilmington-bound Collin Dempsey. And finishing third behind Lund in the 800 was Goodson.
Goodson and Lund also teamed up with Justin Cherry and Charles Parrott to win the 4x800 relay.
Oakdale had teeth in field events, too. Sophomore Samuel Starrs won the state pole vault title by clearing a height of 14-3.
With so many people piling up points, Oakdale also won its second straight county meet title, and its fourth in five years.