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Washington Post - Atkinson Loosens Up, Fuels McNamara

Washington Post - Atkinson Loosens Up, Fuels McNamara

Posted by By Carl Little on February 17, 2009
Atkinson Loosens Up, Fuels McNamara

By Carl Little
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, February 8, 2009; D06

Saniel Atkinson schleps an oversize duffle bag to every track meet. It contains every piece of equipment she needs, including five pairs of running shoes, a measuring tape, marking tape, a highlighter, extra clothes and her homework.

But there's one thing she's been known to carry around that she can do without, and it doesn't fit inside her bag: Anxiety.

A multi-event star at Bishop McNamara, Atkinson acknowledges she sometimes comes unraveled if her first event isn't up to snuff, and she carries that disappointment into the next one. And although she tightened at the start of yesterday's Georgetown Prep Invitational, the senior finished loose, scoring in four events and sparking her team to a quality finish in North Bethesda.

"I feel like Georgia can call me at any second and [revoke] my scholarship," said Atkinson, who signed with the Bulldogs on Wednesday. "Sometimes it's hard to let go."

Led by captains Atkinson and Monica Mason, Bishop McNamara finished second at the unofficial private schools' championships. McDonogh of Baltimore was the champion and Elizabeth Seton was third.

Gonzaga won the boys' championship over Archbishop Carroll and DeMatha.

Atkinson, the No. 2-ranked high jumper and triple jumper in the country, started slow, placing fifth in the 55-meter hurdles and third in the long jump. And although she rebounded to win the high jump with 5 feet 4 inches, she was well shy of the 5-9 she leapt two weeks ago. After each event, Atkinson somberly returned to her team area and lay on the floor, a sign she was retreating from her usual playful nature.

But after a brief pep talk from Coach Keith Chapman, Atkinson relaxed and won the triple jump with 39-3.75. "That took some of the weight off me," Atkinson said.

Meantime, Seton's 4x200 relay team was light on its feet as Adenike Pedro, Jameice DeCoster, Dionna Hayes and Brianna Young won in 1 minute 42.51 seconds, a meet record. Pedro and DeCoster also set meet records in the long jump and the 300, respectively.

Carroll's Ashley Seymour was the 1,000 meters champion in 3:06.73, a meet record.

The Eagles' team title was keyed by Aaron Shepperd and Stacey Robinson, who went 1-2 in the boys' 55 hurdles, and Bill Ledder, who won the 1,600.

Georgetown Prep's Ramsey Chapin was the 1,000-meter champion in 2:30.18, breaking the 18-year-old school record.

The boys from Episcopal -- Alex Smith, Allante Keels, Shadow Sebele and Evan King -- won the boys' 4x400 relay in a mild upset in 3:27.39.

"A lot of people don't really look at us because we're from Episcopal," said Keels, who also won the 500. "We been here the whole time. You just haven't seen us."

Raiders Clock a Top Time

The girls from Eleanor Roosevelt clocked the third-fastest 4x400 relay time ever indoors by an American high school girls' team on Friday, signaling that they are still a force heading into next week's Maryland state championships.

Aurieyall Scott, Afia Charles, Jenea McCammon and Doris Anyanwu brought the baton around in 3:41.75 on the banked 200-meter track at the Armory in New York. It's the fastest mark in the country this season. . . .

Walkersville All-Met Jon Hill won the high jump with 7 feet 1 inch yesterday at the Maryland 2A East region meet at Hagerstown Community College. The senior leapt 7-2 in his first meet of the season -- the No. 2 mark in the country -- and has twice gone over seven feet this season.

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