When Frederick County Public Schools sports were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, we thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport to help fill the void.
Every week during the hiatus, we have featured a sport and listed contenders from years past in that sport. Even though FCPS competitions resumed this week, there are still some sports we haven’t given readers a chance to vote on, so we will keep going until we’ve presented them all.
Readers can visit 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 track and field. May the best team win.
1968 Frederick Cadets
Accomplishments: Class A state champion, District I Class A champion, Tri-State League champion
This Frederick team was part of a dynasty that saw the Cadets win four straight state crowns from 1967 to 1970.
No other Frederick County outdoor boys track and field program has won more than three state crowns in a row. And none of Frederick High’s five other state championship teams (it also won titles in 1962 and 1986) ever scored as many points at a state meet as the Cadets did in 1968, when they won seven of 17 events and rolled to a 102-50 win over second-place Fairmont Heights.
Frederick was helmed by first-year coach Hal Grau, a novice whose familiarity with track came mainly from watching the Olympics. But the newbie — who would go on to become a longtime, successful football coach in Frederick County — had the good sense to ask local track guru Jack Griffin for help. Also, Grau inherited key performers from the 1967 state championship team.
“We had a load of talent,” Grau said on Tuesday, fondly recalling how his athletes shined at the 1968 state meet.
Future NBA player Kenny Boyd, a sophomore, won the long jump with an overall state meet record leap of 23 feet, 4 inches and took the triple jump title with a Class A record jump of 45-2. Boyd also placed second in the high jump, which he won the following year by setting a Class A state record (6-7).
Future NFL star running back Chuck Foreman, a Frederick junior, won the 180 low hurdles and 120 high hurdles while finishing fourth in the triple jump and seventh in the long jump.
Then there was Frederick junior Anthony Ambush, who would break a junior Olympics record in the 100 dash in 1969 (running a 9.5), go on to star at Mount St. Mary’s and reach the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials. In 1968, he won the 220 dash, was second in the 100 dash and anchored the winning 440 relay team, which also included Ed Rossi, Oliver Cejka and Mike Bowie.
Frederick also picked up plenty of points in pole vault. The Cadets’ Rodney Gray won with a 12-3, while teammate George Hamm tied for second.
1974 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Class C state champion, District I Class C champion
With a Frederick County-best 10 state titles and several other close calls at state meets, Middletown has fielded a slew of teams worthy of being on this list.
Why is the 1974 one of them? A contemporaneous headline in The Frederick News-Post gives a hint, reading, “’Best’ Knight Team Wins State ‘C’ Title.”
The superlative in the headline is a nod to a quote given by Don Boyer, the legendary coach who guided all of those great Knights teams for decades.
“This is my best team,” Boyer told the News-Post. “When you work with a group of kids like this, it’s hard to lose. They were really psyched up for the meet.”
Keep in mind, this was Middletown’s fourth state title in five years. But a look at the results seems to justify Boyer’s use of a superlative.
Scoring in every event except the long jump and winning eight of 17 events, the 1974 Knights stormed to a 180-87 win over second-place Havre de Grace. To date, 28 Frederick County boys outdoor track and field teams have won state crowns, and none of them scored as many points at the state meet as the 1974 Knights did.
This was no one- or two-man team, either. The Knights didn’t have a single multiple winner. Seven different Knights won individual events, and Middletown’s winning relay team didn’t include anyone who won an individual event.
Tom Stevens, who would compete in the 1988 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, won his second straight two-mile state title with a time of 10:01.3, which set a state record. The Knights’ Mark Pearl also set a state record by winning the 880-yard run in 1:58.4.
Other Middletown winners were: eventual 1984 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier David Shafer (mile), Gordon Ausherman (shot put), Steve Martin (pole vault), Gary Barkdoll (120 high hurdles), Ken Moser (discus) and the mile relay team of Wayne Zimmerman, Don Pearl, Earl Palmer and Jay Rhoderick.
It’s also worth mentioning Middletown’s performance at the District I Class C meet, where the Knights won 14 of 17 events and finished with 300½ points.
The News-Post reported no one could remember a team dominating a postseason meet like that, and it quoted an unnamed coach as saying the Knights should be moved from Class C to Class A.
Middletown might’ve been able to handle that jump. In a dual meet that season, the Knights beat Class A South Carroll 85-56.
1985 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Class C state champion, Frederick County champion
Heading into 1985, it had been 11 years since Middletown’s strong program had won a state title.
The Knights leaned on their exceptional depth to break that drought. Despite winning just two events, the Knights beat second-place Stephen Decatur 97-81.
Aside from getting wins from Kevin Farrell in the 3,200 and the 4x800 relay team of Curt Walz, Monte Boyer, John Middlebrook and Jim Geisbert, the Knights benefited from three second-place finishes, six thirds, three fourths, two fifths and a sixth.
After guiding the Knights to their fifth state crown, Don Boyer told The Frederick News-Post this was the most well-balanced squad he ever had. He also thought this team possessed the best crop of sprinters he had coached at Middletown.
One of those sprinters was Tim Farrell, who won the 100 and 200 dashes at the regional meet en route to being named The Frederick News-Post’s top track performer.
Middletown moved up to Class B the following season.
“It is a good way to leave Class C,” Boyer said.
2003 Urbana Hawks
Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion, Frederick County champion, CMC champion
This was the first of two straight state titles for Urbana. But unlike the 2004 team, the 2003 Hawks didn’t rely solely on track events.
That’s because in 2003, the Hawks had senior field standouts like thrower Nick Williams and high jumper Carson Baker joining forces with underclassmen standout runners like Kurt Kuehne and Jon Cooper.
No wonder the Hawks cruised to their first state crown, beating second-place Paint Branch 86-57.
Williams won the state discus title with a throw of 172-4, which is still on the MPSSAA’s state meet overall top 10 list, and was second in shot put at states. Baker was second in the high jump at states.
Their points bolstered a team that piled up points in running events.
Kuehne, a junior who went on to run at Princeton, won the 800 (in which he was unbeaten that season) and 3,200 runs and placed second in the 1,600.
Cooper, a junior who had transferred from Watkins Mill, was second in the 100 (an event he won with a county-record time of 10.5 at the county meet) and fourth in the 200.
Urbana also used high finishes in relays — second in the 4x200 and 4x800 and fourth in the 4x100 — to pile up points. Such were the benefits of having a deep lineup, which included junior contributor C.J. Ecalono, who went on to run at Robert Morris before serving as head coach for Urbana’s powerhouse girls track and field program.
“That kind of balance is just really hard for other teams to match when we put it all together,” Hawks coach Dave Britton said.
2010 Thomas Johnson
Accomplishments: Class 4A state champion, Frederick County champion
One of the deepest and most talented track and field teams in Frederick County history.
That’s exactly how Thomas Johnson’s 2010 team was described by The Frederick News-Post on that season’s all-county page, which was loaded with photos of Patriots who earned first-team honors.
This TJ team won the second of its three straight state crowns. These Patriots won the second of its three straight state crowns, and all three came in Class 4A.
And the Patriots got that 2010 title with ease, winning six of 18 events and getting multiple placers in numerous events en route to a 127-55.5 victory over second-place North Point.
“It was an awesome meet,” TJ coach Nick Snyder told The Frederick News-Post. “We really didn’t have to do anything special to win. We just had to keep doing what we have been doing. This team has so much talent across the board that we just had to do what we’ve been doing since March 1.”
Leading the way was James Madison-bound (for football) senior Marquis Woodyard, who picked up his second Gatorade Maryland Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award in 2010 as well as Frederick News-Post Runner of the Year honors.
Woodyard successfully defended his state titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles while also running the anchor leg on TJ’s winning 4x200 relay team, which included Fabian Gonzalez, Richard Newman (who placed second in 300 hurdles) and Nico Johnson.
Other TJ wins came from Erick Artusio (pole vault, soaring 15 feet to put his name on the MPSSAA’s overall top 10 list for the second time), Momodou Drammeh (high jump) and football standout Nick Forbes (discus).
TJ’s Brandon Brownfield also contributed points, placing third in long jump, fifth in high jump and seventh in triple jump.
2011 Linganore Lancers
Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion
OK, so the 2011 Linganore Lancers didn’t win the Frederick County meet, where they lost to juggernaut and eventual Class 4A state champ Thomas Johnson 158.5-120.5.
But that team was well on its way to one of the most successful seasons in program history. The Lancers ended up winning their second state title and first since 1993, beating second-place Potomac 72-69.
And as it turned out, tough county foes like TJ helped toughen up Linganore.
“I think what really prepared us for this is Frederick County,” Linganore coach Alvin Pridgeon told The Frederick News-Post after the Lancers won states. “The standard has gone up every year I’ve been here. We really have some great coaches here and the athletes push each other to new levels throughout the season.”
Braden Bruning, in the process of crafting a stellar career, powered the Lancers to the title. He notched runaway wins in the 1,600 and 3,200 for his first two state crowns. Teammate Patrick DuBoyce finished fifth and fourth in those races, respectively, showing Linganore’s ability to have multiple point winners in events.
Likewise, in the 110 hurdles, Linganore got a second place from Dwayne Randall and a fifth place from Jeremy Dorsey.
Linganore got second-place finishes from Julian Coiner in high jump and the 4x100 relay team of Joseph Riddle, Dorsey, Payne Hebron and Randall as well as fourth-place finishes from Dorsey in the triple jump and William Connelly in shot put.
2019 Oakdale Bears
Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, Frederick County champion, Central Maryland Conference champion
With Kyle Lund highlighting a deep, talented lineup, Oakdale won its second straight state title in 2019.
This crown was more convincing than the first one as the Bears beat second-place Century 85-68. It was their third state crown in a row counting their indoor title.
“We’re a brotherhood,” Oakdale coach Dave Lillard told The Frederick News-Post. “They had each other’s back. Not everyone can have a great meet every single meet. But, if you have each other’s backs, it doesn’t matter.”
As usual, Lund had a great meet in what turned out be the final outdoor event of his high school career, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic shutdown in 2020.
The BYU-bound junior won the 1,600 (4:18.72) and 800 (1:54.3), placed second in the 3,200 and ran the anchor leg on the winning 4x800 relay, which also included Collin Dempsey, Nicholas Stokes and Lee Goodson.
Oakdale senior Erik Starks won the pole vault (which he also won at the county meet with a vault of 15 feet), and the 4x200 relay team of Emmanuel Douge, Jonah Childress, Ronald Robinson and Isaiah Watkins finished second.