- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

If you are in a pinch right now for a holiday gift, here’s a new book you can stuff a stocking with: “Tales from the Maryland Terrapins, A Collection of the Greatest Stories Ever Told.”

The author, Dave Ungrady, has been a loyal friend of mine for 21 years. So it makes it challenging to be fair to Grades and critical of the book at the same time. Ungrady has been writing for publications since we met, and this is his second book after penning “Unlucky: A Season of Struggle in Minor League Professional Soccer.”

The Terps book concentrates on the football and men’s basketball programs, chronicling over 100 years. The book certainly shows a major amount of research, including latter-day interviews with some of Maryland greatest stars like Boomer Esiason and Renaldo Nehemiah.

Ungrady, an all-conference 800-meter runner and track team captain at Maryland in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, recants Nehemiah’s legendary 1978 day at the Penn Relays, where the superstar hurdler anchored the Terps to three spectacular golds.

The challenge for Ungrady was to cover so many different sports, both men’s and women’s, over such a long period of time in just 230 pages. Obviously, I would have liked to have read more about track and field. At times, I felt the flow was a bit disjointed. And I was surprised at a number of rough editing cuts.

But if you know a rabid Terps fan, this book will be a staple in his sports library. And the book just happens to fit into a large stocking!

Hail Haile — The Adidas Boston Indoor Games received a huge shot in the arm last week when officials there announced that Haile Gebrselassie had committed. The 30-year-old two-time Olympic gold medalist at 10,000 meters is widely considered the greatest long distance runner of all time.

Oddly, he is dropping down from his specialty to compete in the 3,000 meters, the longest men’s event at the Jan.31 track meet. It will be the first time in eight years the legendary Ethiopian has competed in the United States, as well as only the third time in his 13-year career.

In addition to winning at 10,000 meters in both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, Gebrselassie holds world records at both 10,000 meters (26:22.75) and 5,000 meters (12:39.36) on the track and 10 kilometers (27:02) on the roads and is a nine-time world champion.

His only other races in the United States have been the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where he won gold, and the 1992 World Cross Country Championships in Boston, where he was second in the Junior division.

Fast kids — Ten national champions were crowned in five age groups last weekend at the 2003 USATF National Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships at the Lovelace Soccer Complex on the outskirts of Albuquerque, N.M.

One local runner, Ashley Seymour of the DC Red Wings, was a big winner in the Midget girls race, moving up from 10th last year to win with an 11:21.8 effort over three kilometers.

End run — The Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run already has closed online registration. It took just four days, from Monday to Thursday, to fill. Mail-in registration is expected to end within the week.

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