Ready to run

Hall twins lead the way for West­lake first-year coach Baker

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Twit­ter: tblack­somds1 By TED BLACK tblack@somd­

Mon­day af­ter­noon’s drier, breezy con­di­tions of­fered mem­bers of the West­lake High School cross coun­try team a chance to ac­tu­ally en­joy prac­tice, even as some of them ran with a para­chute in tow.

West­lake run­ners have al­ready com­peted in two meets, fin­ish­ing 11th most re­cently in a 15-team in­vi­ta­tional at the Fair Hill Train­ing Cen­ter in Ce­cil County. Over the years Fair Hill has been a home to tal­ented thor­ough­breds, in­clud­ing Ken­tucky Derby win­ners Bar­baro and An­i­mal King­dom and even Breed­ers Cup Turf cham­pi­ons Bet­ter Talk Now and Main Se­quence.

But Satur­day the hilly ter­rain of­fered West­lake ju­nior Jay Hall another chance to dis­play his tal­ents over the course. Hall, whose twin brother, Jett Hall, also com­petes for the West­lake squad, fin­ished sec­ond at Fair Hill one week af­ter cap­tur­ing the Brunswick In­vi­ta­tional in Western Mary­land. It was the type of start to the sea­son Hall had an­tic­i­pated.

“This year I want to see how high I can place in SMAC,” said Hall, who spent most of last sea­son chas­ing North­ern High School se­nior stand­out Matt Ben­nett. “There’s a lot of good com­pe­ti­tion in our league, but I would like to place first or sec­ond at ev­ery meet. Win­ning the ti­tle at Brunswick was a good start and I was happy with the way that I ran on Satur­day.”

Hall and his twin brother and their re­main­ing team­mates will re­turn to a flat­ter, more fa­mil­iar ter­rain at 4:30 p.m. to­day when the Wolver­ines host South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence ri­vals Thomas Stone, Leonard­town and Great Mills in a reg­u­lar sea­son-open­ing quad-meet. At­mo­spheric con­di­tions should be con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than they were Satur­day when the heat in­dex reached triple dig­its at Fair Hill.

“It was a tough course and it was very hot and hu­mid,” Hall said of Fair Hill. He placed sec­ond in 16 min­utes 31.30, a week af­ter win­ning the Brunswick race in 15:53.21. “I likes the course. It was dif­fer­ent. There were a lot of hills and trees. I’m look­ing for­ward to my first home meet on Wed­nes­day.”

West­lake first-year head coach Kenn Baker, who is also the Wolver­ines soft­ball coach in the spring, will have a full com­ple­ment of 20 run­ners on hand this fall. In ad­di­tion to the Hall twins, se­niors To­bias Hur­ley and Niko Reid and sopho­mores Artez Jones, Car­los Eldridge and Jaquil Mitchell will com­prise the boys start­ing seven. Se­niors Skye Cum­mings and Katie Rahill, ju­nior Jour’dan Haynes and sopho­more Ja­lynn Bur­russ are the Wolver­ines’ fe­male run­ners.

“One thing I like so far is that none of them have quit,” Baker said. “We have a lot of new kids on the team and they have a new coach and they’ve been to two meets and none of them have quit. They’re a great group to work with. They look out for each other here and they help me as much as they can. I’m for­tu­nate to have a great as­sis­tant, Ge­orge Hall, who does a lot of work to help me and th­ese kids.”

Since most of the team had com­peted at Fair Hill on Satur­day, Mon­day’s prac­tice was scaled back con­sid­er­ably. Most of the run­ners jogged around the out­door track in­side the foot­ball sta­dium and sev­eral oth­ers strapped a small para­chute around their waist and pro­ceeded to dash across the field as quickly as pos­si­ble be­fore the re­sis­tance of the open chute tugged against them.

“They had a light, twom­ile run around the track to­day and now they’re just look­ing to cool­ing down with some sprints,” Baker said. “It’s a re­ally good group. We have a good mix of ex­pe­ri­enced kids and fresh­men, so the older ones have al­ready taken the younger kids un­der their wings.”

West­lake High School ju­nior twins Jett Hall, left, and Jay Hall, head down the track on Mon­day af­ter­noon in their last stage of prac­tice. Jay Hall be­gan the sea­son by cap­tur­ing the Brunswick In­vi­ta­tional and plac­ing sec­ond in another meet at Fair Hill Train­ing Cen­ter in Ce­cil County. STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

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