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It may not be the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, but 2006 Great Mills High School graduate Santiato Ennis is back on his old stomping grounds of St. Mary’s County in his first year with the St. Mary’s Ryken Knights outdoor track and field team, co-coaching with Joanne Person.

Ennis won the 400-meter SMAC title in 2006 and now is looking to extend some of his knowledge to his Knights runners, a team full of young athletes that he likes.

“Even from a coach’s perspective, it’s fun,” Ennis said in an email. “We really can build athletes the way we want: teach them proper fundamentals, biomechanics, science of running [and so forth]. Being young is a great strength because of the faith the athletes put in the coaching staff.”

The first opportunity that Ennis will receive to see familiar opponent school colors will be April 5 when the Knights travel to North Point High School to take part in the Waldorf Track & Field Classic against SMAC schools that are scheduled to include Calvert, Lackey, La Plata, McDonough, North Point and Westlake.

Washington Catholic Athletic Conference foe Elizabeth Seton also is scheduled to be in attendance.

Just down the road at Leonardtown, Shawn Snyder returns for his 18th season as head coach of the Raiders program that is also scheduled to be at the Classic on April 5.

Snyder comes into the year as the All-County girls Coach of the Year after Leonardtown captured a second-place finish after an 11-1 SMAC regular season, a second-place showing at the SMAC championships and a second-place finish at the Class 4A East Region championships. The Raiders ended the outdoor season by taking fifth at the 4A state championships.

Leonardtown steadily has made progress in the team-finish at the state championships in recent years. The fifth-place finish in 2013 topped ninth-place finishes in 2012 and 2011, a 16th placing in 2010 and 21st in 2009.

A large piece of last year’s fifth-place finish, however, is gone after Leonardtown lost the All-County girls track and field Athlete of the Year Laura Shaner, who placed second at the state championships in the 300-meter hurdles and sixth in the 100 hurdles.

Still, Snyder admits that the girls strengths will lie on a “very solid group of sprinters and distance runners.”

On the boys side for Leonardtown, senior Matthew Wolfe looks to make a jump into the record books after his second- and third-place finishes at the SMAC championships and Class 4A East Region championships in the triple jump last year.

At Great Mills, Hornets head Bianca Lynch has increased the total number of wins for her boys team in each year since her arrival in 2010.

In 2010, the team won one meet, then it went to three in 2011 before winning five in 2012 and six in 2013.

The six wins last year landed the fourth-year head coach All-County boys track and field Coach of the Year honors.

This year, Lynch is ready to head up a boys team looking for bigger goals as they will rely on their experience on the track and under her system and tutelage.

With such experience in seniors David Strickland (distance) and Andrew Weers (high jump) and even in underclassmen such as sophomore hurdler and jumper Casimir Tawiah, the team has set, “big goals for themselves,” Lynch said in an email.

At Chopticon, Braves head coach Ray Rice is happy with the new coaching staff that surrounds him that includes a former athlete — from his time at Great Mills — and another coach from Texas. Having multiple coaches may help the Braves turnaround a season in which the boys and girls team earned one win combined, that from the girls side.

Hoping to change that will be freshman distance runner and Lauren Fancella, who had an impressive freshman campaign during her cross country season in the fall, and senior All-County triple-jumper Kala Herbert.

“I want them to realize what I’m trying to do is create a program here in the school that is going to be a strong program,” Rice said.

jmccray@somdnews.com