Staff photo by Graham Cullen

Frederick’s Jaida Smith, left, anchored her 4x100-meter relay team to gold in 2018, helping the Cadets win the Class 3A state championship. Those Cadets were among the finest girls outdoor track and field teams in Frederick County history. But were they the best? Help decide by voting on our polls at fredericknewspost.com.

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 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: Girls track and field. May the best team win.

1981 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Class B state champion, Frederick County champion, Tri-State champion, Cumberland Valley Athletic League champion

When it came to including a stellar Frederick team from this era on the list, there were plenty of suitable options.

Frederick won five straight state girls track and field titles from 1979 to 1983. And each of those years, it also won Frederick County meet titles.

But it’s hard to argue against the 1981 Frederick team’s dominance. Take it from Cadets coach Jack Griffin.

“This is the greatest girls team in the history of Frederick High School,” the legendary track guru told The Frederick News-Post after the Cadets, under head coach Harry Nogle, won their third straight state crown.

His ringing endorsement was inspired by Frederick’s ability to pile up 102 points at the state meet, easily topping second-place Northern of Calvert County (53 points) and besting their winning scores at the 1979 and 1980 states.

That point tally hinged heavily on Frederick’s ability to win all four relays at states, which no outdoor girls team reportedly had ever done before. The Cadets also set state Class B meet records in three of those relays — 400 (48.5), 800 (1:42.4) and the mile (3:56.8).

Leading the way was stellar sophomore Diane Thomas, who ran on three winning relay teams and won the 100 hurdles, just some of the highlights she managed before starring at the University of North Carolina. Eraina Bowins also ran on three winning relay teams and won the 300 hurdles.

Others on winning relay teams were Leda Sewell, who ran on three, Jennifer Costello, who ran on two, and Alicia Cathey, Pam Horner and Debbie Cina, who each ran on one. Only 14 of 16 spots on Frederick’s winning relay teams were accounted for in our 1981 article on the meet.

Frederick was steamrolling opponents all season. At the Tri-State meet, the Cadets set 11 meet records and beat second-place Thomas Johnson 200-89. At the Cumberland Valley Athletic League meet, they won by 107 points. And at the the Region I, Class B meet, they won the title with meet-record 202 points.

While Frederick’s 154-124 win over Linganore at the county meet wasn’t lopsided, a 30-point win over a Lancers team that went on to win its second straight Class C state crown wasn’t too shabby.

With Thomas and many others returning, Frederick remained a force during this era. And the program churned out more dominant teams in later eras, including a couple more on this list.

1989 Linganore Lancers

Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion, Frederick County champion, Central Maryland Conference champion

As the 1980s progressed, Linganore overtook Frederick as the dominant Frederick County program.

And the Lancers closed out the decade by winning their second straight state title and capturing their fifth straight county meet crown.

While Linganore’s lone first place finish at the 1989 state meet came from Robyn Bouch, who won the high jump, the Lancers had the kind of point-producing depth to pull out a 72-60 win over Paint Branch. Tracie Donnelly’s second-place finish in the high jump, near the end of the meet, proved pivotal.

“That’s what it came down to,” Linganore coach John Grim said. “We were outscored in the 800-meter run, but we were second in the long jump, and they didn’t score any points in that. When we ran the 1,600-meter relay, it didn’t matter. We already had enough points.”

At the county meet, Linganore beat second-place Frederick 156-100. JoAnna Boettinger, who fell down in the mile but got up to finish strong, won the 800 run and ran on the winning 1,600 relay team along with Bouch, Chris Byrd and Kristen Diaz.

Bouch also won the triple jump, Chantel Tyler won the shot put. Carrie Keisgen, Liz Moreno, Dana Bohnstengel and Linda Littelfield won the 400 relay.

This would be Linganore’s last county and state title until the mid-90s, and the school has a team from that era on this list.

1996 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion, Frederick County champion, Central Maryland Conference champion

After winning state titles in cross-country and indoor track and field earlier in the school year, the 1996 Frederick Cadets completed the triple crown by capturing their first outdoor track and field state title since 1983. Only one other Maryland girls program, the 1993-94 Linganore Lancers, had accomplished the feat at the time.

The Cadets possessed a pair of Division I-bound stars in Valerie Williams and Michelle Higginbottom. And perhaps they all had some extra motivation — Cadets coach Frank Strakonsky promised to let his team shave off his mustache if they got the rare trifecta. Strakonsky’s Coach of the Year photo from that season suggests he kept his promise.

“We knew we had a legitimate shot to do it,” the coach told The Frederick News-Post back then. “Cross-country had been the hard part, and we did that.”

To get title No.3 in 1995-96, the Cadets beat second-place Howard 104-78, thanks to a dominant showing in the 200 run. Entering that race with a 20-point lead over Howard, the Cadets outscored the Lions 18-0 when Higginbottom won and Williams placed second.

That was one of three wins for the Mount St. Mary’s-bound Higginbottom, who also took the 100 and 400 state crowns.

Williams left her mark at the meet, too. She won the triple jump with a ridiculously long leap of 42 feet, 5¾ inches, setting a state meet record for all classifications that has yet be topped and wowing at least one sportswriter who arrived at Westminster High School just in time to watch her soar her way into the record book.

As if that wasn’t enough, Williams also won the long jump with a meet record jump of 19 feet, 10-5 inches, and that still ranks on the MPSSAA’s top 10 list in that event. Not surprisingly, Williams would go on to earn All-American at Arizona State.

Aside from Williams (the Frederick News-Post Outstanding Field Athlete) and Hibbinbottom, Frederick placed Grace McCallum (state champ in shot put), Samantha Biggus (fourth in the shot put at states) and Mardy Przywarty (100 hurdles) on the all-area first team.

1996 Linganore Lancers

Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion

Like Frederick, Linganore captured its sixth outdoor girls track and field state title in 1996.

It was the second state crown in three years for the Lancers, but this team gets the nod over 1994 because it included Kristen Ritter at the peak of high school career.

The Tennessee-bound senior went out in fitting fashion at the state meet, winning the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 runs and running on the winning 4x800 relay team.

With athletes like Ritter, Frederick’s Williams and Higginbottom and Catoctin’s Kathy Messner (another quadruple winner at the 1996 state meet who went on to compete at Penn State), Frederick County was brimming with track and field talent. So by the time the Lancers reached states, they were battle-tested and prepared to fend off second-place Central.

Linganore’s bid for another crown hinged heavily on its depth. Case in point, the Lancers Suzanne Custer won the high jump while teammate Cara Consuegra — a basketball star who would later play at the University of Iowa and in the WNBA — placed second.

“We scored in 12 events and we scored two people in several events,” Lancers coach John Grim said. “So we got the best of both worlds.”

Linganore’s 4x800 relay team of Ritter, Marcie Gotch, Susan Ludwig and Mandy Gotch earned Frederick News-Post all-area first team honors, and Ritter was the Runner of the Year.

2000 Middletown Knights

Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, MVAL champion

With junior distance runner Randy Buzzell leading the way, the Middletown Knights won their first state title in 2000.

As she had done all year, Buzzell piled up points by winning the 800- and 1,600-meter runs at the state tournament. She also ran on the winning 3,200 relay team, yet another credential that helped the Princeton-bound standout win Frederick News-Post co-athlete of the year honors.

The Jen Zeltwanger-coached Knights got plenty of points elsewhere, too, at states. Tyler Caudle placed second in the 400 and 800 runs, and Cammie Davis was second in the discus.

At county meet, Buzzell won the 1,600 (setting a meet record with a 5:03.2) and 800 and running on the 1,600 relay team. Also, Alissa Kennedy — another Middletown all-county first-teamer — placed second to Davis in the discus.

At the MVAL championships, Buzzell set meet marks in the 800 (2:17.6) and 1,600 (5:06.4), while Tyler Caudle won the 400, Rocky Morgan won the 3,200 run, and the 1,600 relay team won.

2011 Thomas Johnson Patriots

Accomplishments: Class 4A state runner-up, Frederick County champion, MVAL Piedmont champion

With a slew of strong senior distance runners and a rising star thrower, the 2011 Thomas Johnson Patriots won their sixth straight Frederick County meet team crown and were a state runner-up for the first time in program history.

Yes, the 2012 Patriots won the program’s first state crown under coach Jen Spivey, and that team certainly was worthy of being on this list, too. But like that team, the 2011 Patriots included star thrower Tamara Ovejera, sprinter-jumper Yeni Aromolaran and high jumper Breana Brownfield.

All of those athletes were likely even better in 2012. But in 2011, they were part of team that also included senior runners Kristen Galligan (The Frederick News-Post Runner of the Year), Savanna Plombon (who went on to compete for West Virginia University and qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon) and Annie Powell.

The trio of Galligan, Powell and Plombon finished 1-2-3, in that order, in the 1,600 run at the Frederick County meet. All three would end up earning Frederick News-Post all-county first-team honors in 2011.

With such a showing, no wonder Becky Somerville-coached TJ defended its county title with ease, beating second-place Linganore 156-113.

At the state meet, TJ fell 85-59 to Northwest. At the time, it was the closest TJ had come to winning a state crown. Ovejera won the discus state crown and placed second in shot put.

Galligan was second in the 3,200 run, while Plombon — who bounced back from a late-season illness — was third in the 1,600 and Brownfield was third in high jump.

2015 Oakdale Bears

Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, MVAL Piedmont champion

Oakdale won its third straight state title in 2015, becoming just the second Frederick County team to win at least three state crowns in a row. Frederick accomplished the feat by winning five straight from 1979 to 1983.

“The smallest things, a second or an inch, can throw everything off,” Oakdale coach Chris Lewis told The Frederick News-Post. “That’s why it’s so hard to repeat. These are great kids. This is a great program.”

All three of Oakdale’s championship teams got a boost from Jackie McNulty and Abby Stultz, who concluded their careers in 2015 and went on to compete for Division I programs.

The Stanford-bound McNulty defended her state titles in pole vault, triple jump and long jump and ran the anchor leg on the Bears’ winning 1,600 relay team. Her pole vault of 12 feet, 4 inches set a state record for all classifications.

The versatile Stultz, a Penn State recruit, won her second state title in high jump (5-4) and placed third in the 100 hurdles, fourth in the triple jump and fifth in shot put.

But the Bears, who won the state title by crushing second-place Boonsboro 105-58, also got vital contributions from other standouts like Alaina McCracken and Charlotte Kowalk.

After hurting her hip while doing a drill minutes before the race, McCracken ignored the pain and — wrapped left leg and all — won the 100 hurdles title at the state meet. She also placed second in the triple jump, third in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the long jump.

Kowalk ran on Oakdale’s state champion 1,600 relay team, which also included Jamie Farley and Katie Hicken, and she was a county champ in the 800 run.

2018 Frederick Cadets

Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion

Yet another Frederick team from yet another era, and like the others, this one is impressive.

Led by record-setting sprinter Jaida Smith, the Cadets successfully defended their Class 3A state title by beating second-place Franklin 100-82.

The University of Maryland-bound Smith concluded her stellar high school career with a milestone, setting a state meet record for all classification in the 100 dash with a time of 11.63 seconds.

There’s more. Smith won the 200 dash with 3A state record time of 23.91, captured her first state long jump with a leap of 18-4½ feet, which beat the rest of the field by 1½ feet, and ran the anchor leg on Frederick’s second-place 400 relay team.

“She went out with a bang, and we needed it,” said Rob Dixon, who coached Frederick with Jeff Whiten.

Smith, The Frederick News-Post runner of the year, was joined on the all-county first team by teammates Mikhale Mayou, Hannah Meredith and Paige Tolbard.

At states, Tolbard placed second in discus and shot put, Mayou placed third in discus and shot put, and Meredith was second in the 100 hurdles, third in the triple jump, fifth in 300 hurdles a member of the fourth-place 800 relay team.

2019 Urbana Hawks

Accomplishments: Class 4A state champion, Frederick County champion, CMC champion

The 2019 Urbana Hawks became the first Frederick County girls outdoor track and field team to win a Class 4A state crown, and they also captured their fifth straight Frederick County meet team title.

The Hawks were led by sophomore Ella Auderset, who earned Frederick News-Post track athlete of the year honors and has committed to the University of North Carolina. At the state meet, she used a lean at the finish to win the closely contested 800-meter run and ran the anchor leg on the winning 1,600 relay team, which also included Piper Jons, Karly McDonnell and Susannah Auderset.

This was Urbana’s second state title, with the first one coming in 2016 when it was a 3A team.

“The seniors on this team won their first and their final state meet for outdoor,” Hawks coach C.J. Ecalono said.

Senior standouts included Payton Bohrer (third in state pole vault), Mary Miller (county champ in 3,200) and Lily Morrell (first in county and fifth in states in 300 hurdles). All were all-county first-teamers, as were Jons and Oni Scott, who qualified for the state meet in the triple jump, shot put and high jump (where she placed fifth).

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