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Sales' confidence leads to state title

| Sunday, June 2, 2002

Halfway through the 200-meter dash finals at the PIAA Class AAA track and field championships in Shippensburg, Peabody's Maurice Sales wasn't leading, but he knew he would win.

Alex Fisher of Plymouth-Whitemarsh was ahead, but Sales was close enough. He had his usual strong finish to win the state championship in 21.82 seconds, the first victory by a City League athlete to the 100 or 200 since Allderdice's Brian Irvin won in 1988

"At the 100 mark, I knew I had (Fisher)," Sales said. "He was running his fastest, but I had more."

Sales also finished second in the 100 meters with a time of 10.85 seconds, behind Cedar Crest's Jaren Hayes' 10.78.

That may have been the bigger surprise. Sales won the City League championship in both races, but the 200 is his stronger event.

"I knew I was fast," Sales said. "Looking on paper, there were a lot of fast times, so I didn't come in thinking I was going to win it. But I felt they were going to have to beat me. They'd have to run some fast times to beat me."

"In the 200, he went through the outdoor season undefeated," Peabody track coach Lou Berry said. "He was looking forward to challenging for 200 gold.

"As far as the 100 was concerned, we knew Maurice had the foot speed to run with these guys. It was a matter of fine-tuning the start."

The starts have always been the problem for Sales, who tends to get stronger as a race progresses. He spent most of the last three weeks working on it, getting additional help from Mark Hogan, the father of former Perry state champion hurdler Brandi Hogan.

"His time in the 100 dash was his best since the Butler Invitational," Berry said. "As I evaluated the start, it was a little better than in the past, but nothing dramatic. He was able to get out with the other participants."

Still, Sales had to make a late run to take second place.

"It was a typical Maurice Sales finish," Berry said. "At about 70 meters, he started running people down halfway through race, Maurice was in fifth. At 60 or 70 meters, he really started stepping."

Berry said that Sales might have been somewhat fatigued for the 100, which was about a half hour after the 200 semifinals. Sales was the only athlete to run in the Class AAA finals in both the 100 and 200.

"I believe in my heart, if he was just in the 100 meter dash, he might have been able to pull it out," Berry said. "We certainly feel good about his accomplishments."

Sales had been to states as a sophomore after taking second in both the 100 and the 200 at the City League finals, but he did not medal. He was hurt last year and missed the City League championships.

That may also be a reason why Sales has been an object of late recruiting interest. He is already verbally committed to St. Francis (Pa.) for football as a wide receiver, but recently, other schools have been inquiring about him for football and track.

Sales indicated that it would take a lot to get him to go anywhere but St. Francis, but he might run track as well as playing football there.

"If they want me to run, I'm not going to tell them no," Sales said."I want to play football. My coaches want me to do both."

"A lot of people didn't know about Maurice," Berry said. "He had a stellar football season, but he didn't have the kind of numbers the coaches like. That was the system we ran. His main thing is football, but if he can play football and run track, great."

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