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Blair Garrett

Basketball is a game of momentum.

After dominating the majority of the game and a last-minute comeback, Catoctin Boys Hoops steadied the ship to edge out Smithsburg, 67-63, on January 14. The team then kept pace with the region, taking out Clear Spring and Williamsport consecutively.

The Smithsburg win was hard-fought with a down-to-the-wire slugfest between two rivals.

The neck and neck contest saw both teams battling for control throughout much of the first half, with Catoctin holding a 26-23 lead over the Leopards. Head coach Brian Burdette lit a fire under his team to start the third quarter, and the Cougars never looked back.

“Coming off the game against Middletown, I knew we were going to come out a little flat to start,” Burdette said. “We regrouped and started to do the things we wanted to do offensively, and we were able to get clean looks at the basket to heat up and pull away a little bit.”

Rivalries always add a bit of spice to a game. With the home crowd roaring, the Cougars came out with winning energy and intensity in the second half.

Catoctin’s explosive third quarter was led by forward David Parker, whose rebounding prowess in the paint gave problems to Smithsburg throughout the game. Parker’s ability to extend plays let the team’s outside shooters flourish, pushing the Cougar lead to as much as 17. Catoctin held a 47-33 advantage in rebounds on the night.

Nailing three-pointers and scoring off the transition put the Cougars firmly into the driver’s seat. When Catoctin can find the open man and stretch out the defense, they are at their best. “When we move the ball, and we cut to get some open looks at the basket, we’re able to knock them down,” Burdette said.

A buzzer-beater to close out the third quarter saw Catoctin ahead 49-35, but the game was far from over. The contest evolved into a chess match, with both coaches wisely using timeouts to stifle the opposition’s momentum. Smithsburg is a team that has no quit, and momentum can change in the blink of an eye.

After holding a 17-point lead with six minutes left, a Smithsburg timeout gave the team life to rally back, putting the home team on its heels late in the game. With the clock winding down, the Leopards continued to pick up steam with defensive tenacity and quick-strike offense.

Smithsburg guard Morgan Hyman hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left, putting the Cougars dangerously close to losing their lead. Catoctin headed to the free-throw line with 4.6 on the clock and a two-point lead, and made no mistake, sinking both and putting the game out of reach.

The Cougars’ close call against Smithsburg came as no surprise to Burdette, who has taken notice of the Leopards’ ability to battle back late in games. “I watched the three other games this season, and they’ve come back,” he said. “They don’t give up, and they’re a scrappy ball club. I knew they were capable of doing that.”

With three wins in a row and another big win under their belt, the Cougars are quickly shaping up for the playoff season. While logging these early wins is ideal, the team attitude of always having something to improve on will carry them far.

“We’ve got to improve taking care of the ball in transition,” Burdette said.

When the team is firing on all cylinders, it is hard to beat. If the team continues to integrate its depth and facilitate the ball, there is no telling how far it can go.

Morgan Hyman (left) and Tommy Fitzpatrick (right) battle for possession.

Blair Garrett

It was a thriller in Knott Arena on Saturday, January 25. With just seconds on the clock, the hometown crowd roaring, and one final chance to score, the Mount men’s basketball team held off Bryant University’s last-second push to win its fourth game in a row and fifth Northeastern Conference game of the season.

Homecoming night had an electric energy in the building, with both teams storming up and down the court in the opening minutes. The Bulldogs came out swinging, knocking down shots from beyond the arc left and right, but Mount St. Mary’s was able to stabilize and keep pace with Bryant’s scorers.

Neither team was able to take firm control of the game throughout the first half, and the score held even at 40 all, until Bryant’s Juan Cardenas hit the team’s tenth 3-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded.

The intermission was a good reset for the Mount, whose explosive jump to begin the second half gave the team its first two-score lead of the game. A few defensive stops and an alley-oop to Mount forward Nana Opoku had fans out of their seats. Mount St. Mary’s looked nearly unstoppable over the opening minutes of the second frame.

Momentum-swings in basketball are never few and far between, and the Bulldogs found their way back into the game, with the lead changing hands once again late in the game.

“They went up 6 points with six minutes to go, a little worried, but we made some big shots,” head coach Dan Engelstad said.

The Mount found its rhythm, and guard Damian Chong Qui’s scoring prowess stung the Bulldogs twice to draw Mount St. Mary’s within one score. As he has done all season, guard Vado Morse pulled out a timely 3-pointer to tie the game, with the clock ticking away.

Emotions were running high, and both teams missed critical free throws down the stretch that could have swung the game in either’s favor. With less than a minute remaining in the game, the Bulldogs needed a score to take the lead, but Opoku had other plans.

The 6-foot-9-forward stood tall, swatting away multiple shot attempts in the same drive to eventually force a shot clock violation and, more importantly, milking precious seconds off an already waning clock.

Bryant’s only chance was to take the Mount to the foul line, and Morse and Jalen Gibbs sank free throws to push the team to a four-point lead.

Just as they had all night, the Bulldogs battled back and fired off a tough-angle 3-pointer to pull within 1, with just 2.7 seconds left in the game. After an immediate foul and two more important Mount free throws, Bryant had just one final chance on an inbound play to level the score.

The entire arena held their breath as the ball soared across the court, but the Bulldogs’ hopes fell short, as Mount St. Mary’s batted the ball away and stole the game.

The game was as close as it gets, but the home team was able to gut it out and give the fans a show en route to the team’s ninth victory of the season.

“It was a back-and-forth game, and it was really entertaining,” Engelstad said. “It was a really well-played game on both sides. They made 10 threes in the first half, and we were able to limit them to just three in the second half and that was the difference.”

After a rough opening schedule against some of the country’s top collegiate teams, the Mount has found its game in the NEC, keeping up with the conference’s top teams. With the momentum from winning a few games in a row and an impressive 5-2 in-conference record, the energy in the locker room may feel different, but the team’s focus never leaves the task at hand.

“The most important practice is the next one, and the most important game is the next one,” Engelstad said. “This was an awesome environment and it was fun to play in, but it was only important because it was the one in front of us. That’s the mindset we gotta keep.”

The Mount is now in the thick of its conference games, and with this focused attitude and renewed confidence, it is an exciting time to be a Mountaineer.

Vado Morse takes it to the hoop on the counterattack.

Jalen Gibbs contests a late-game shot.

At Thurmont Little League (TLL), there truly is no off-season! Even though Fall Ball has been over for a few months, and the spring season is still several weeks away, the board of directors has been hard at work with preparations and improvements for the upcoming year.

This year, a new president, Keith Myers, has taken over the duties from outgoing President Jeremy Johnson. This is Keith’s second time around with TLL. He coached his son from tee-ball to majors, and now has the privileged opportunity to fulfill the same role with his grandson. Previously on the TLL board, Keith held several other positions, including vice president of the Minor and Major Divisions. Jeremy will remain on as vice president of the Minors Division. Other new board members for 2020 include: Jenn Cregger—Player Agent, Carrie Laird—Team Mom Coordinator, and Blaine Young—Umpire in Chief. TLL would not be possible without a fantastic group of volunteers, and they are thankful to every one of them for their dedicated service.

The board members aren’t the only ones keeping busy this off-season. Close to 50 TLL players from all age groups have been participating in the Winter Baseball Clinic at Mount Saint Mary’s University. This is an excellent opportunity to get lessons from college coaches and players, and for our youth athletes to keep their skills sharp during the winter.

This off-season, the TLL Facebook page promoted a new tagline/slogan contest. They reached out to the community for input on a new tagline that best captured what TLL is all about. After narrowing the choices down to the top 16, a bracket-style voting process was held, which eventually led to the selection of the new TLL tagline: “Small town teams, big league dreams!” The board will use this tagline in future marketing and branding, and it will be painted on several of the dugouts around the complex. Congrats to Ryan Tokar on submitting the winning tagline!

Spring registration for the 2020 season is now open. Please visit www.tllbaseball.com for more information. There will also be in-person registration at Roy Rogers in Thurmont on February 4, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Opening day is planned for April 14, and we encourage everyone to attend!

The Catoctin-Ettes, inc., will again be offering its free, introductory baton twirling course for beginners interested in the growing sport of baton twirling. 

The classes are set to begin on Wednesday, February 12, at the Emmitsburg Elementary School. The course runs for four consecutive Wednesday evenings  and is geared for beginners from ages 5 and up. Baton twirling and marching are the focus of the course. 

The course is completely free and batons are loaned free of charge for classtime. This is an excellent opportunity to determine a child’s interest for twirling with absolutely no costs or commitments whatsoever! Certificates are presented to those completing the four-week course.

Participants must be pre-registered. For more information or for information, please contact Donna Landsperger at donito@aol.com or 240-405-2604.

The Catoctin-Aires Twirling Corps has captured the title of Advanced Majorette Corps under the sanction of the Capital Area Marching Association.  The championship contest was held in October 2019 at the Hagerstown Junior College Sports Complex.

The group has earned the title consecutively for many years though this year they have won with over a 100-point margin from the second place competitor.  In addition to the advanced group title, the marching group also won first place for its Complimentary Unit and Tiny Tot section, as well as achieving the highest point value for its seniors, juniors, and juvenile twirling units.

Each leader of the group was named the top advanced leader in group competition. Receiving medals for this prestigious award were Lily Marquette as Tiny Tot Leader; Katie Gaffigan, Juvenile Leader; Rachel Bechler, Junior Leader; and Kelly Reed, Senior Leader.

During individual competition, Katie Gaffigan earned the title of Miss C.A.M.A. for her three-part performance in the beginner 10-12 division. India Mitchell won in the Novice 10-12 division. Both girls competed in modeling, twirling, and strutting to be determined the all-around winner of their respective divisions. They received their divisional championship trophy, crown and sash.

Miss Caitlyn Purdum was recognized by the Catoctin-Aires as the year’s Most Valuable Player for having worked in three of the five competing sections of the group.

For more information about the group or for registration for the upcoming season, please contact Donna Landsperger at donito@aol.com.

Free Twirling Classes: Contact The Catoctin-Ettes, Inc. for information about its free twirling classes, set to begin January 27, 2020, from 6:45-7:30 p.m. at Emmitsburg Elementary School. It’s not too late to join the fun! Contact Donna Landsperger at DONITO@aol.com or 301-271-4326.

Blair Garrett

Catoctin High School football has cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs, crushing its opponents with a combined score of 100-12. The team followed up those performances with another offensive explosion, smashing its quarterfinal opponents by 20 points.

The Cougars clashed with the Southern Rams in the first round of the playoffs, scoring touchdowns on each possession throughout the entirety of the battle.

It was a frigid night, but Catoctin came out on fire, exploding for three quick touchdowns in the first frame, a theme that continued throughout the game.

“The kids practice hard,” Head Coach Doug Williams said. “When they do that, we execute.”

The team’s run game dominated Southern, chewing up huge chunks of yardage, left and right. Dynamic running back duo Carson Sickeri and Jacob Baker combined for multiple scores each on the night, pushing Catoctin to a comfortable 41-point lead by halftime.

The Cougar defense was nearly impenetrable, limiting the Rams to just a handful of first downs until the final drive of the game. Solid defense sets up the offense, and the Cougars were dominant on both sides of the ball from start to finish.

“The defense gave us field position,” Williams said. “I don’t know how many first downs they got, but it wasn’t many.”

Any football coach recognizes the importance of having a consistent offensive line. Throughout the season, Catoctin’s offensive line has often been the unsung group of heroes on the team. So far in the playoffs, their contributions have been noticeable, and they have continued to create lanes and suppress pressure, allowing the Cougar offense to flourish. 

“It all starts with the offensive line,” Williams said. “They were doing a good job blocking and executing, and the skill guys followed right behind them.”

Good teams expect more cohesion as their season pushes on, and Catoctin has been playing a complete game for weeks.

The Cougars replicated their almost flawless performance the following week, blowing out Boonsboro High School 47-6 in the second round of the playoffs, and routing Fairmont Heights 41-21 in the quarterfinals.

The team’s six-game winning streak has been built on consistent play on offense and defense, and the Cougars are finding ways to win convincingly each week because of it. That balance has given Coach Williams and company a lot to build upon each practice, and the results have been sensational on the field.

With momentum on their side, the team still has more work to do to reach the state championship once again, a feat it last did in 2010.

Sitting at an 11-1 record, the Cougars have the confidence and the ability to make the push into the final leg of the playoffs, and with the season on the line, each game from here on out, the team is leaving everything out on the field.

With a maximum of two games left in the season, Catoctin faces off against Fort Hill on Friday, November 29, in a semifinal showdown that is sure to be the Cougars’ toughest challenge of the season. You can catch more high school football action following the playoffs that you won’t want to miss.

Blair Garrett

The first of many has been achieved.

After a long offseason, the Mount St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball team cruised to victory in the team’s home opener of the season, defeating Gettysburg College, 75-58.

The Mount opened the game at a torrid pace, immediately igniting the crowd on a dunk by forward Nana Opoku to get the crowd roaring from the first whistle. Opoku’s score gave Mount St. Mary’s a lead it would not surrender throughout the entirety of the game.

A blistering pace over the first 10 minutes of the match saw the Mount form a sizable lead over the Bullets, punishing mistakes left and right and forcing Gettysburg to adapt to their dominant play down low. Mount St. Mary’s held a 25-6 lead in what looked to be a blowout early.

Basketball is a game of momentum, though, and the Bullets battled their way back to cut Mount St. Mary’s lead to just a few possessions, capitalizing off a string of turnovers.

With just an 11-point lead at halftime, the Mount had plenty of work to do to close out the game and take its first win of the season, but Gettysburg still had plenty of fight left.

The Bullets came out swinging, almost tying the game before a key timeout by head coach Dan Engelstad got the group back on track. “We just weren’t playing Mount basketball,” Engelstad said. “We’re not defending, we’re not back in transition, we’re not communicating. When you do that, that’s how teams can get back in the game.”

Mount St. Mary’s timeout allowed the players to take a breath, reset, and focus on getting back to the core of what makes them a successful team, and they followed that break by scoring the next 10 points, grabbing a convincing lead to close out the game.

Guards Vado Morse and Damian Chong Qui picked up the pace in the second half, forcing Gettysburg to turn the ball over and allowing the Mount to use its speed and athleticism to extend the lead. Morse finished the game with 14 points and four steals, while Chong Qui cashed in on 13 points.

Forward Malik Jefferson was a consistent thorn in the Gettysburg side, grabbing offensive rebounds to recycle the ball and offer second and third chances for Mount shots. Jefferson’s efforts netted him a double-double, putting up 14 points and 13 rebounds to pace the team.

While the end result reads as a win and the team’s first of the season, there is much work to be done to continue, putting up impressive results and playing to the potential this team has. “I thought we came out pretty well with some fire early, but then we got sloppy,” Engelstad said. “The second half, we had some plays where our offense was able to get initiated because of our defense, and we picked it up a bit.”

Communication has been a key word ringing through Knott Arena all throughout the offseason; and in order to reach the team’s goals, improvement in that department to clean up defensive assignments and passing plays will go a long way.

“Communication is something we’ve been preaching for so long,” Engelstad said. “It was good at points, but if we don’t string it together for the majority of the game, then we’ll have different results.”

A few miscues leading to turnovers and some poor shooting from beyond the arc left a bit to be desired for the team, so any improvement in those areas is a great place to start building confidence and momentum throughout the year.

The sky’s the limit for Mount basketball, and Engelstad has the systems in place for the team to breed success this season. Although there are things to work on early in the season, this team has all the tools to bring fans to their feet and wins to their record.

Catch your local college basketball team when the Mount returns to the Knott Arena on Tuesday, November 26, at 7:00 p.m. to face off against Utah Valley.

Editor’s note: The Catoctin Banner, in cooperation with Dave Ammenheuser, wrote this story.     

It has been almost 40 years since John Campbell, Duane Gigeous, Dennis Grandstaff, Larry Martinez, and Mark Williard stood together on the Catoctin High School basketball court. 

They were members of the 1979-80 Catoctin boys’ basketball team that finished with a 14-8 record, which snapped a streak of several losing seasons. A year later, the 1980-81 Cougars posted a school-best 20-3 record and became the only Catoctin boys’ basketball team to advance to the state semifinals at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House. The Cougars lost to Mount Hebron in overtime. 

In January 2020, those five, plus many of their 1979-80 and 1980-81 teammates, coaches, cheerleaders, and statisticians plan to reunite at the school for the first time in almost four decades.

“We grew up in a special place at a special time,” said Williard, who now lives in Irving, Texas. “The community really rallied around us, and I believe that support helped to drive our success. I attended Catoctin’s homecoming football game this year and am glad to see that the strong support remains. I’m really looking forward to getting the gang back together.”

Williard and Dave Ammenheuser, the statistician of the 1979-80 team, are coordinating the January 24-25 reunion.

“It’s been 40 years since we’ve all been together,” said Ammenheuser, now the sports editor of USA TODAY. “For several years, Mark and I have casually talked through social media about putting a reunion together. It’s great that it is going to happen.”

Ammenheuser is working with Catoctin Athletic Director Keith Bruck to make the reunion special. Catoctin hosts Williamsport on January 24. Starting at 5:30 p.m., there will be a reception during the junior varsity game. The 1979-80 and 1980-81 teams will then be introduced at halftime of the varsity game.

On January 25, there will be an alumni game for all former Cougars who played in the 1980s.

“We’re also planning a special outing on Friday night after the game,” said Williard, who is eyeing a post-game reunion/celebration at The Ott House Pub in Emmitsburg.

Williard and Ammenheuser have been busy tracking down former teammates and classmates. Social media has helped with that task. However, they are still attempting to locate two former teammates: Jim Hamilla, who played on the 1979-80 team, and Mark Hall, who played on the 1980-81 team. If anyone knows how to reach them, please reach out to Williard (mfwilliard@hotmail.com) or Ammenheuser (DaveAmmenheuser@gmail.com).

Catoctin scores against Walkersville during the 1979-80 season.

With the exception of Hamilla and Hall and Paul Cisar (1979-80), who has a family event scheduled outside of the country, other teammates are expected to attend. They include Carroll Brown, M.J. Golibart, Ed Graff, Bob Gray, Michael Hill, George Kuhn, Duane Snyder, Mike Valentine, Campbell, Gigeous, Grandstaff, Martinez and Williard. Mike Stitely, a member of the 1980-81 team, died in December 1995. He will be represented by his son, Matt Stitely.

Former head coach Steve Lengkeek, who left Catoctin after the 1980-81 season and moved to Wilmington, Delaware, is looking forward to the reunion. Although he’s stayed in touch with some of his former players, he has not seen all of them in four decades.

“My wife, Carol, and I are really looking forward to seeing many athletes, students, and former staff who filled our lives during our time at Catoctin and left us with an abundance of lifelong memories,” said Lengkeek, who has officiated basketball games in the Wilmington area for 25 years. “It makes us very proud to see that so many have gone on to their own journey to excel and to leave so many positive marks on their own stories and that of others.”

He and Keith Delauter (Catoctin Class of 1976) have volunteered to officiate the alumni game on January 25.

Williard and Ammenheuser encourage former classmates, parents, school staff members, and the community to come out to the event.

blair garrett

Development is the path to success, and the Mount St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball team is geared up and ready for its 2019-20 campaign.

The young guns are back and refreshed after a long offseason, with the team soon closing out its final week of training camp before the regular season kicks off.

Last season, the Mount suited up a full roster of underclassmen, including nine freshmen. This season is also head coach Dan Engelstad’s second behind the bench, and the extra year to build chemistry between the players and the system has done wonders for the cohesion of the team.

“We speak a similar language now,” Engelstad said. “Last year was trying to teach a new system and how we play, and now we’re speaking that common language, and for us to see the growth of our guys and see how far they’ve come is really enjoyable.”

Returning eight of those freshmen and five sophomores gives Mount St. Mary’s a sense of familiarity cruising into this season, and having a roster with a full year under its belt as a team is something that inspires confidence in Engelstad.

“Now we’re demanding more, and our expectations are higher for us,” Engelstad said. “It’s been a really fun experience to come to the gym every day and work with these guys.”

Hard work pays off, and a few key players who stepped up last season will be looked to once again to lead the team. 

The Northeast Conference (NEC) will be on high alert with Mount guard Vado Morse on the court. Morse put up stellar numbers as the season wore on, and only got better during the in-conference matchups over the latter half of the year. The All-Rookie team star added another accolade to his already impressive resume, being named NEC Rookie of the Year, joining elite company with just two other players in Mount history. Morse scored 10 or more in 18 of 20 games last season, including seven 20-plus point efforts and scored back-to-back career highs against LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis Brooklyn. 

Morse, along with Jalen Gibbs and Omar Habwe are a dynamic trio, with each threatening from beyond the arc and with explosive drives to the hoop. Morse and guard Damian Chong Qui were excellent at facilitating the offense, habitually finding shooting lanes and the open man to give the team the best opportunity to score. The pair led the team in assists last season, cashing in on 160 assists combined. 

Mount St. Mary’s has balance throughout the lineup, with players across the bench able to step up and contribute on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. “We really feel like our depth is now a strength,” Engelstad said. “We didn’t feel like we could go as deep into our bench as we can this year.”

Malik Jefferson and Nana Opoku provide a strong defensive prowess and high compete level for rebounds to extend the play. Jefferson led the team last season in rebounds per game, and both players are heavily relied upon for putting aggressive defensive pressure on opposing forwards.

The Mount has a lot to look forward to this season, and it all begins with a few major tests on the road to kick off the November. Mount St. Mary’s takes on Georgetown University, University of Washington, and the University of Kentucky all in the first three weeks of the season, giving the group ample time to perfect systems and experience big teams on a big stage before facing in-conference opponents. 

“[We want] to see how connected we are,” Engelstad said. “We’ve done a lot of work this offseason, starting right as the season ended, growing as a team and growing our culture, discipline, and trying to take that next step. That next step for us is competing against some of the best teams in the country and finding out where we stand.”

The Mount has been making all the right strides to continue competing at the highest level, and Engelstad and company will be more than prepared on opening day. Mount St. Mary’s basketball tips off Nov. 6 against Georgetown at 7:00 p.m. You can catch the game live on CBS Sports Network.  


NEC Rookie of the Year Vado Morse pictured above.

Sara Wastler Lambert (pictured right) was inducted into the Hood College Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, September 28, 2019. She is a 2005 graduate of Catoctin High School and a 2009 graduate of Hood College.

Sara was a two-sport athlete for all four of her Hood years, as a member of the softball and women’s basketball programs. She was named All-Region in softball in 2006, and helped lead the team to back-to-back Atlantic Women’s Colleges Conference Championships and appearances in the NCAA Regional. She holds Hood’s all-time record for hits, runs scored, stolen bases, and doubles. She ranks among the Blazers’ all-time leaders in batting average, slugging, on-base percentage, games played, at bats, triples, home runs, and runs batted in.

On the basketball court, she helped Hood win the 2006 AWCC Championship and a bid to the NCAA Tournament. In basketball, she holds the Blazers’ career record for three-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Sara is among the all-time leaders in three-pointers made and assists.

She was the assistant girl’s basketball coach at Catoctin High School for seven years, and the head varsity softball coach at Middletown for two years.

Sara is in her eighth year of teaching, and in her fourth year of teaching physical education at Rockland Woods Elementary School in Washington County.

The father and son duo of Tyler and Steve Pinkley from Keedysville, Maryland, dominated the Fort Ritchie Community Center Bass Fishing Tournament. Tyler took first place honors with a 16½-inch bass, while his father, Steve, was one of three participants who tied for third place.

The tournament is held at Lake Royer in Cascade and is sponsored by the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Forty-two anglers participated in the tournament held on Saturday, September 28, 2019.   

Garrett Gardenour of Smithsburg secured a second-place finish with a 16-inch catch. Joining Pinkley in the tie for third place with a 14¾-inch fish was Jared Vaughn of Knoxville, Maryland, and Gene Helmick, of Middletown, Maryland. Nelson Smith of Cascade recorded a 15-inch fish to win the Military Division. 

The youth division was won by Josh Gregory of Emmitsburg with a 16-inch bass. Hunter Coon of Sharpsburg, Maryland, won second place in the youth division with a 15-inch bass. Seventeen youth participated, including members from the Community Center’s “Kid’s Club” program that meets on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings.      

Proceeds from the tournament support the programs and activities at the Fort Ritchie Community Center. For more information or to register for upcoming events, please visit www.thefrcc.org.

Blair Garrett

With fall sports now in full swing, there is a lot to look forward to for Mount St. Mary’s athletics.

Men’s Soccer

Improving on last season’s 2-10-4 record is imminent for the Mount this season, who have already surpassed their win total over the 2018 campaign. The team won its first three games of the season, scoring seven goals over that streak.

Scoring woes plagued Mount St. Mary’s last season, clipping at .81 goals per game in 2018, but the team has increased that average drastically through the first five games of the season, sitting at 1.4 GPG through the team’s first five games.

The men have in-conference matches against key opponents Robert Morris University and St. Francis Brooklyn in the coming weeks that is sure to have a major impact on the seeding in the Northeast Conference.

Women’s Soccer

The women’s side struggled toward the beginning of its 2018 run, but a strong finish kept the team competitive and in the hunt in the Northeast Conference through the majority of the season. The team’s start in its 2019 season leaves plenty of room for improvement, currently sitting at 1-8, so a similar turning of the tides may be in store for Mount St. Mary’s. 

Offense has been a major issue for the Mount, with the team scoring in just two games through the team’s first nine games. The fix is easier said than done, but with plenty of time left in the season and the bulk of the team’s conference matchups ahead, a complete turnaround is entirely possible.

Cross Country

Mount St. Mary’s Cross Country has just a handful of invitationals left, and with a much more active schedule over the month of October, the crew has the opportunity to put a season’s worth of hard work to the test.

The Mount has competed in two meets thus far, with several strong individual performances coming out of the men’s and women’s sides. Will Merritt had a stellar performance, finishing second place in the Mount St. Mary’s 5K Duals with a time of 15:36.99, just five seconds off of first place. Other top finishers included the Mount’s Isaac Kole (eleventh), and Maddie Kole (nineteenth).

Mount St. Mary’s is back in action once again at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on October 5.

Golf

Mount Golf is more than halfway through its season, and with a number of strong performances in regional tournaments, the team is putting the pieces together to finish out the season on the right foot.

The depth of the Mount’s roster has shown someone new to step up at each tournament to lead the team on the scorecard. Just this season, Michael Robinson, Nacho Gomez, and Mitchell Gallo have all taken the reigns to lead the Mount at different tournaments over the past month.

The team sports a young crew with plenty of time for improvement, with six freshmen and just two upperclassmen.

The women for the Mount have two key performers who have contributed heavily to the team all season. Michaila Cheung and Olivia Gardenhour have competed all season long for the Mount, leading the squad at different events over the course of September.

Cheung (So.), Gardenhour (Jr.), and Taylor Woodward (Fr.) all have at least another year together, so there is time for growth between the trio as they continue the push through the final few tournaments of the season.       

This has been your mid-season recap. For more information, check out the Mount St. Mary’s athletics site at www.mountathletics.com.    

Blair Garrett

Catoctin Cougars roar past Frederick in the team’s home opener. The Cougars’ 45-15 tossing of Frederick was in part to an electric offense and a suffocating defense that held the Cadets in check for the majority of the game.

It was all Catoctin early on, as the team opened the floodgates against the Frederick team early and often, punishing turnovers and taking an early lead that the team would not relinquish throughout the rest of the game.

Head Coach Doug Williams attributed the team’s victory to a group of unsung heroes who played a key role in Catoctin’s first home game of the season.

“The offensive line did a pretty good job of blocking,” Williams said. “We had some good running and we mixed in a little passing, but our offensive line was really executing.”

The team stormed out to a commanding 31-7 lead by halftime, looking like a well-oiled machine over the first two quarters. The Cougars pulled off their game plan to keep the Cadets’ quarterback Kisaye Barnes contained, limiting Frederick to just one successful offensive drive without resulting in a turnover or a failed fourth-down conversion.

Barnes and Catoctin quarterback Ryan Orr were both unafraid to let the ball fly, but Orr’s passes were finding Cougar receivers, and the Cougars were finding the end zone. Where Catoctin did run into problems was when Barnes found open space to make a run up the field, which is something Williams and the rest of the coaching staff took note of.

“He’s given us problems every single year,” Williams said. “He can throw the ball, but we were most concerned with his running. Once he gets out into the open, he’s a little bit of trouble, so he was the guy we had to slow down and that’s basically what we did.”

The Cougars had no problem containing the passing game, intercepting Barnes multiple times throughout the game, and that swing of momentum proved to be the backbreaker as Catoctin capitalized and extended its lead. 

Key players in the game included RB/CB Carson Sickeri, who punched the ball into the end zone on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and Ryan Orr, whose consistent decision-making kept Catoctin’s long offensive drives alive.

The Cougars are now 3-0 on the season, but Williams feels there is still plenty more work to be done to get this team firing on all cylinders. “We’ve got a long way to go to improve,” he said. “We’ve got to improve on defense, and we can’t be turning the ball over. We’re not going to win close games doing that.”

Despite some of the ball control issues the Cougars have had, they have out-scored opponents 131-51 this season. There are a few adjustments Catoctin plans to make to keep the momentum and the wins flowing. “I’ve got to do a better job teaching ball security and tightening up our defense and executing the fundamentals,” Williams said.

For the Cougars, the team’s winning is a direct result of the commitment and dedication they put in from training camp until now.

“What I like about our team is our kids are very coachable, and they come to practice ready to work hard every day,” Williams said.

The Cougars are in the midst of a home stand; they were back in action for a home bout against Smithsburg High School on September 27.

The Cougars and Cadets face off at the goal line, primed to punch the ball in for the score.

Catoctin’s Mason Shank picks up huge yardage for his team before slipping out of bounds.

Catoctin Youth Association (CYA) offers Kindergarten through U16 boy’s and girl’s teams. All team/league information, tryout/evaluation dates and times, and player fees are listed on the CYA Basketball website. Please register online at: www.leaguelineup.com/cyabasketball.

Coaches Wanted! If you are interested in coaching, please contact Jason Smith at jasonsmith008@comcast.net. Curriculum is provided.

Blair Garrett

Fall sports for high schools across the country kick off each September, and Catoctin High’s student-athletes are finishing up training camp and entering their respective seasons, eager for the competition to begin.

After a long off-season for summer break, Catoctin High athletics is just getting back into the swing of things. Preseason and the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season offer coaches and players a chance to build the chemistry and team cohesiveness that makes a good team great. So, let’s take a look at what you can expect for the Cougars this coming season.

Football: Following up a stellar 2018 campaign for the Cougars is no easy feat. Catoctin High football rocketed off to a 10-1 start before falling in the playoffs, but this 2019 squad is up for the challenge to match or exceed last year’s success. The team, led by head coach Doug Williams, kicks off its season in what is sure to be a close-fought rivalry game against Boonsboro High School.

The Cougars won both matchups against the Warriors last season, and they’ll look to replicate their winning ways in both games against Boonsboro this season. Catoctin’s season opener begins September 6, at Boonsboro High School.

Golf: The earliest start to Catoctin sports comes from the Cougars’ golf team, opening the season with a quad-school morning matchup in late August, followed in the afternoon by another bout against Governor Thomas Johnson High School. The co-ed golf program features athletes typically competing against one or multiple schools at a time, vying for the lowest scores per hole to earn a victory for their school. The Catoctin golf program in 2018 found success, sending an athlete to compete at the collegiate level, which is promising for student-athletes competing for the Cougars in 2019 and seasons to come.

Cross Country: Catoctin cross country has been historically successful in the past, winning multiple championships back-to-back just a few years ago. The girls and boys season starts August 29, in a tri-school meet against Frederick High School and Brunswick High School. With various talented runners leading the team, the Cougars should be in form for another exciting season.

Field Hockey: The Catoctin field hockey team is the only sport to begin its 2019 fall season on its home turf, taking on the Eagles of Francis Scott Key High School. Catoctin field hockey is looking to get off to a hot start this season to continue improving and competing against the toughest competition. The Cougars face off in the season opener on September 10 at 4:00 p.m.

Soccer: The boys and girls soccer teams struggled to gain traction last season, but a fresh new season and fresh new faces leading the charge could be just what the Cougars need to get the squads back on track to find success on the field once again. Both crews ignite a new season on the road September 10 against familiar foe, Francis Scott Key High School. 

Volleyball: Catoctin High volleyball is the final of the fall sports to get underway, and the Cougars have ample time to prepare for a grueling schedule ahead. Catoctin volleyball found success on the road last season, going 5-2 in the opponent’s home court, which is great news looking forward to this season, as the team hits the road for its season opener against Walkersville High School on September 12.   

You can catch all the action this upcoming season and support your local high school by checking out schedules online and staying tuned for further coverage of local athletics throughout the school year.

The Thurmont Little League Minors Pirates won their in-house playoff championship game on Saturday, June 15, 2019.  They won in the fifth inning, 15 to 14. Players names are: Devin Youngerman, Theron Rolko, Carson Fry, Parker Davis, Jacob Burtner, Logan Holden, Ben Blackwell, Dalton Mathias, Brody Mathias, and Tyrone Vanecho. Team coaches are Joey Youngerman, Matt Rolko, and Rick Fry.

A free baton-twirling course is coming to Emmitsburg this summer for a summer daytime session. The course will run for four consecutive Mondays, beginning on Monday, July 8.

Classes will be held at the Emmitsburg Community Center Gymnasium.  Class time is 10:00-10:45a.m. Classes are geared for the beginner twirler, ages five and up.

The Catoctin-Ettes, Inc. (aka Catoctin-Aires), a local youth organization specializing in baton twirling and related activities, is the sponsor of this fun-filled and exciting course. The organization has been in existence since 1972, and performs in local parades, contests, and has sponsored national level dance-twirl teams. 

There is absolutely no fee whatsoever for the course, and batons are loaned free for classtime. This is an excellent opportunity for girls and boys to try a new activity to determine interest for continuing or for just plain having fun!

Registration is required. Please contact Donna Landsperger at 240-405-2604 or via email at donito@aol.com.

On April 13, 2019, Harlan Campbell, Jr. presented AJ Hahn with an award for shooting his first 100 straight targets that day at Pine Valley Shooting Club in New Jersey. 

AJ shoots with the Frederick County 4-H Shooting program. For more information about the shooting sports program, call Chuck Farmer 301-898-2809.

The purpose of the shooting sports program is youth development and the teaching of life skills to young people.

Deb Abraham Spalding

The Frederick Challenger League is a baseball program for players with disabilities or challenges of any type: physical, emotional, or developmental. The league started in Frederick 30 years ago in 1989. It is the first-ever regional Little League program that encompasses all of Maryland District II (Frederick, Montgomery, and Carroll Counties). Games are played in Clarksburg, Mt. Airy, Frederick, and Thurmont.

The league has a successful history, having played the Little League World Series in 2005, the Thurmont team played at the White House in 2007, they play with the Frederick Keys every year, and they help operate a fantasy camp with the Orioles in the summer.

Volunteers with the Thurmont Little League hosted the first annual James Garst Memorial Jamboree on May 11, 2019, at the Thurmont Little League fields. The Jamboree is a regional gathering of Little League Challenger teams. This tournament included teams from Dillsburg and Pen Mar, Pennsylvania, as well as the Maryland teams. The tournament is named for Jim Garst. He was a coach for the Frederick Challenger League for 15 years. Last year, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during the season and passed shortly after.

Current Challenger League president, Guy Berry, has been involved with the league for 25 years, serving as president for the past 15. He is the father of three special needs kids: one was legally blind, one was deaf, and one has autism. His children no longer play in the league. His oldest son can now see and serves in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper; his daughter had substantial hearing restored from a surgery at age 11 and is now a teacher; and his youngest son works in a restaurant in Frederick.

Challenger participants are aged five into their thirties. Guy explained, “Our league worked to have Little League International allow a senior division without a top age, which is different from any other Little League program. Some people with disabilities would not have the opportunity to play on a team without this league. Participants are assigned to teams based on ability, not age.”

Volunteers are necessary to keep the players safe. There are approximately 45 volunteers assisting 50 players in the League right now.

Visit www.challengerfrederick.org or call the league president, Guy Berry, at 301-471-9701 for more information. Registration is always open.

Bobby Van Dyk is an original player on the Frederick Challenger League. He now helps as a volunteer.

Abby Barnes with the St. Claire team receives her participation medal.

Lucas Garst heads to receive his participation medal after hearing his name called.

Blair Garrett

Catoctin High School (CHS) student-athletes play a huge role in the development and success of our school programs.

Several athletes in particular out-performed the rest, taking the next step with their education and athletic career in pursuing their respective sports at the collegiate level.

Nine students at CHS signed their letters of intent to commit to being a student-athlete after graduation this spring: Melanie Topper—Hood College Basketball, RJ Mellor—Messiah College Lacrosse, Cam Baumgardner—Kutztown University Track and Field, Raegan Smith—Salisbury University Softball, Hunter Grimes—Saint Vincent College Football/Lacrosse, Ashley Mayton—Shepherd University Softball, Derek Rivera—Hagerstown Community College Golf, Victoria Bryant—Stevenson University Volleyball, Caitlyn Naff—University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Volleyball.

These students spent all year working and competing with their teams to prove to colleges and universities that they are ready to move forward with their athletic and academic careers, and that is something that did not go unnoticed by coaches, friends, and fans. 

Less than 17 percent of all high school athletes pursue collegiate sports, so these select few who are able and willing to push forward are surely something special.

All nine athletes signed together and took pictures with their coaches, family, and friends at the high school’s annual signing day. The balance between studies and athletics can be difficult to manage, but each Catoctin High athlete has proven they can compete and succeed in both, and they will look to continue that trend over the coming years. Congratulations to the athletes and families, and keep making the Catoctin Area proud!


Pictured from left are: (sitting) Melanie Topper, RJ Mellor, Cam Baumgardner, Raegan Smith, Hunter Grimes, Ashley Mayton, Derek Rivera, Victoria Bryant, and Caitlyn Naff; (standing) Girl’s Basketball Coach Amy Entwistle, Boy’s Lacrosse Coach Neil Metzgar, Football Coach Doug Williams, Softball Coach Jessica Valentine, Golf Coach Tyler Auscherman, and Volleyball Coach Sherry Levering.

Blair Garrett

April is upon us. The sun is shining, the last remnants of snow are finally withering away, and the faint sound of kids flocking to the ball fields are off in the distance. With the start of Little League season just a few days away, kids between ages 4-12 across Emmitsburg and Thurmont are breaking in the mitts getting their first taste of Spring baseball for 2019.

For years now, baseball has been the pinnacle of success for the local youth leagues, with Thurmont Little League teams winning multiple accolades and providing kids an opportunity to explore the sport of baseball in a fun and encouraging environment.

Thurmont Little League supports four teams: Tee ball, Instructional League, Minor League and Major (Little) League. Kids are separated by age where they learn everything from the basics of the game to the mechanics of becoming a great baseball player.

Over just the past few years, Thurmont baseball teams have become the 2015 and 2016 9/10 state champions, 2016 Little League District II Champions, 2017 9-11 District II Champions, 2017 Little League District II and Maryland State Champions.

Winning has followed this program for years now, and the Thurmont Little League will look to replicate that success come Opening Day on April 6. The involvement from players to coaches and down to the parents has given families a great outlet to teach and grow with their young little leaguers and may just be the foundation to the club’s success. 

The Thurmont Little League was established in 1952 and continues to be a driving force behind the love of the game of baseball in the Catoctin Area for kids year after year.

Registration may be closed for the upcoming season, but showing support at Leisner Field of the Thurmont Little League Complex is always welcome and appreciated. Come support your community and your favorite little leaguers as the teams aim for Little League glory once again.

Blair Garrett

The Madness is underway, and while some of our brackets were devastated from day one, there are still a few of us who keep marching on. As upsets mount and top-seeded teams fall left and right, let’s take a look at the updated bracket after last week’s round one chaos.

The chances of picking a perfect bracket are almost a mathematical impossibility, but that doesn’t stop us from trying and failing every year. Picking the perfect bracket is so difficult, in fact, that nobody has ever done it, and there is a near guaranteed chance that nobody ever will.

The numbers are hard to quantify based on strength of teams and other variables, and strictly from a statistical stand point, the 64-team tournament has over 9.2 quintillion possible outcomes (one quintillion is one billion billions). That is several quintillion more than there are grains of sand on earth per ncaa.com.

As one can imagine, with the nearly incalculable amount of bracket possibilities, March Madness fanatics barely scathe even a fraction of a percentage of all bracket outcomes each year. But just how crazy is the USA for college basketball’s most electric tournament? Estimates for 2019 exceed 70 million people will put their wallets and pride on the line for a tournament that is notorious for its upsets, high-octane pace, and electric finishes. So, to all who are participating in this year’s March Madness Bracket Challenge, best of luck. You’re going to need it.

*The Catoctin Banner’s Bracket challenge features locals from across the Catoctin Area, and the winning bracket will be featured in the May edition of The Catoctin Banner. Follow us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss out on future challenges, and you could be featured in our next edition of The Catoctin Banner!

Blair Garrett

As temperatures rise, the snow begins to melt, and February comes to a close, high school spring sports will be kicking into high gear.

A cast of new athletes are coming in to provide Catoctin High athletics spring sports teams with the energy, drive, and dedication to be successful on and off the field. Catoctin spring sports include: boys baseball, girls softball, boys and girls lacrosse, and tennis.

Baseball. The Cougars look to improve on last season’s 6-4 record. The team has multiple matchups versus Boonsboro and Brunswick on its plate, which may be the deciding factor for the success of Catoctin High’s season. With a crop of talented athletes across the field, Catoctin Baseball appears to have another strong season in the works. The season tees off  March 21, against familiar foe Gov. Thomas Johnson.

Softball. Catoctin Softball’s 11-4 2018 season was a smashing success, and the team hopes to replicate its winning ways for the 2019 campaign. The team was bounced by the Bohemia Manor Eagles in the Maryland Girls Softball State Championships, but the Cougars’ trail back to the playoffs runs through its rivalry games early in the season.

Boys Lacrosse. Catoctin Lacrosse struggled across the board last season, but with a fresh team, fresh year, and a fresh mindset, the boys head into the 2019 season with the goal to continue improving. Getting off to a strong start might make the difference for the Cougars. The team kicks off its season in an away game on March 26 against Gov. Thomas Johnson.

Girls Lacrosse. After a rough previous season, Catoctin Girls Lacrosse has its sights set on a new start, as the team kicks off its season versus North Hagerstown on March 21. A win in the first game of the season could turn the tides and build confidence for the team moving forward.

Tennis. Catoctin Tennis kicks off with back-to-back matches March 21 and March 22 in back-to-back exhibition matches against local rivals, Boonsboro and Linganore. The team will look to get back into the win column after its hot start last season.

Blair Garrett

A scorching hot second half led the Mount to its biggest win of the season, smashing conference rivals Robert Morris University, 76-62.

The Mount struggled to keep consistent pressure in the first half, with RMU taking an early stranglehold on the game. Robert Morris clung to a double-digit lead for the majority of the first half, battling the Mountaineers up and down the court for every possession.

Mount St. Mary’s pushed back, closing the gap to a three-possession game just before the buzzer sounded for the first half. After a halftime show filled with dancing, fun, and dogs doing double dutch jump rope, the crowd was fired up, and so was the Mount to go out and finish the game strong.

That’s exactly what they did, firing off an explosive start, putting up a 10-2 run to even up the scores. The Mount looked dominant on offense, threatening quality scoring chances on every drive, but they were even stronger on the defensive side of the ball.

As the Mountaineers turned up the pressure with its full-court press, Robert Morris shooting percentages plummeted, and turnovers became their Achilles heel. The tides were officially turned on a defensive clinic put on by freshman guard Damian Chong Qui, who stole the ball at the Robert Morris baseline and immediately fed the ball with a no-look pass to Omar Habwe, who was waiting just inside the paint to slam it home.

Hawbe’s dunk came at the perfect time, igniting the crowd and the offense when Mount St. Mary’s momentum was peaking. The defender watched helplessly as Habwe slammed the basked out of his reach, prompting the bench to storm the court after a Robert Morris timeout.

The Colonials never recovered throughout the rest of the game, getting outscored 45-24 in the second half and failing to put together consistent pressure. The Mount kept its foot on the gas, thwarting the Robert Morris offense at every turn.

Mount St. Mary’s guard Vado Morse led the charge all game, sinking critical shots to continue propelling the Mount to victory. Morse ended the game with a game-high 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists.

The defining difference in the game was Mount St. Mary’s ability to transition quickly into offense, leaving Robert Morris struggling to keep up. The Mount outscored RMU 11-0 in points on fast breaks, and the team’s bench put up a staggering 21 points, one of its best totals on the season.

Forward Dee Barnes had a few important contributions off the bench, but none at a better time than his four-point play with the score knotted at 43. Barnes drained a three, getting fouled on the play, and put the free throw home to grab a lead for the Mount that it would hold for the rest of the game.

The win was particularly sweet as RMU had defeated the Mount in a nail biter earlier in the season, giving the team a bit of redemption with the final games of the season approaching. As February comes to a close and March rolls in, the team will be looking toward playoff season and hopes to carry momentum from the team’s win over RMU into the postseason.      

The Mount’s Vado Morse drives the lane en route to a 21-point game.