Rogue racers with a rich tradition

Cape boys have won three state titles in winter/indoor track
December 1, 2017

Winter indoor track - I coached the sport and I know the challenges, from recruiting athletes to securing a practice venue – either outside on the actual track or running the hallways inside. Everyone thinks you should be someplace else, and don’t even think about throwing an indoor shot indoors or hurdling in a hallway. Many athletes from the fall and spring don’t take advantage of Cape’s indoor track program. They are missing the boat on purpose, preferring to stay at the same speed. Track teaches the athlete how to sustain speed over distance and to run efficiently, but I am biased.

Sunrise striders - The Saturday sun will rise and hopefully not shine too brightly to white out my photos of the 7 a.m. Dec. 2 start of the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon. A total of 3,000 runners will head west then north to Lewes, then turn around and come back. Bibs are color-coded for the half and full marathon runners – more elect the half – and some full marathoners change their minds during the race, and turn and come back early. It all gets sorted out at the finish. I don’t care how; I’m just trying to get good photos, especially of people I know, like Jackie Warren, Lucy Wilkinson and Laura Olenderski, former Cape softballers who are running the half marathon.

Attention span - I was riding backward on the lead cart the year Paul Dawson, out of Salisbury, Md., won the Lewes Seashore Marathon. Stroking past the Lewes Dairy at the 25-mile mark, I saw the look on Paul’s face when the single-span canal bridge rang the bell and lifted to allow a sailboat to pass underneath. The captain should have lowered the boom on that toy boat. The scene was classic small town, and amazingly the bridge locked back down without Paul having to break stride. You know you are local if you remember that the bridgetender’s name was Blue. 

A change is gonna come - Travel ball showed up 20 years ago and began to spread athletes thinner than mayonnaise on whole-wheat bread. The three-sport, school-side athlete began to disappear, and some kids negotiated with school coaches to miss practices because of recruiting tournaments, arguing they just needed to get discovered and win that scholarship. It doesn’t matter who likes what; each athlete makes a family decision and coaches can play hardball, but their team may play like it’s softball. A recent shrub on the landscape is AAU and club teams advising athletes not to waste their time playing school sports. It’s just different out there right now, and many people are tripping hard, but the GPS isn’t set up to reroute them back home.  

Triple header - Cape will open the boys’ basketball season at home Friday night, Dec. 1, hosting defending state champion Smyrna with the varsity game scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m. The Eagles return guard Caleb Mathers and power forward Jaymier Garnett, while Cape will be led by 6-foot-5 seniors Ian Robertson and Randy Rickards. A freshman game will be played at 3:30 p.m., followed by a junior varsity game at 5 p.m. The Cape girls were 12-8 last season and are set to open at Smyrna, which is coming off a 6-14 season. Sussex Tech boys’ basketball, coming off a 5-15 season, now has Damon Ayers at the helm. The Ravens open at home versus Dover. Sussex Academy has Marco Merlo listed as boys’ coach – must be his poolside name – I’ve always known him as Marc Merlo. The Seahawks are coming off a 2-18 season and open Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Lake Forest.

Snippets - There are some excellent experienced coaches out there who continue to grind and coach hard one athlete at a time, yet on the team side they have little to no chance of having a winning season. Sometimes the deck is just stacked against you. It really does take a special person to keep coaching under those circumstances because it has to beat a coach up, just a little. The Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) are at the Seattle Seahawks (7-4) on Sunday Night Football this week. The game is all about containing Russell Wilson, the smartest, toughest and most elusive quarterback in the history of the NFL, and that includes Roger the Dodger Staubach and Fran Tarkenton, but maybe not Randall Cunningham, my all-time favorite scrambler. Go on now, git!