Weekend in Review: January 11

The Franklin girls dropped a MD #2 time in the 4x400 to close out the Montgomery Invitational. (Photo by Craig Amoss)

January 11: Montgomery Invitational

Some of the biggest storylines of the Montgomery Invitational, not including the historic 3200 battle between Juliette Whittaker and Bethany Graham (read the recap of that race here).

Malcolm Johnson ties VA #1

Still only a junior, St. Stephens & St. Agnes' Malcolm Johnson tied the top Virginia mark in the 55 meter dash finals on Saturday. Johnson was second in the state in the 100 meter dash (10.50) last spring as a sophomore behind only Prince George's Javonte' Harding (who currently sits one hundredth of a second behind Johnson in the 55 meter dash rankings).

Spencer Pett leaves no doubt in the 800

You wouldn't have been able to tell from the results but there wasn't a real favorite in the boys 800 once Damascus' Tamrat Snyder (the current state leader at 1:55.08) scratched. McDonogh's Spencer Pett entered with a season best time of 2:00.29 and an indoor personal best of 1:59.61, from last year's Montgomery Invitational. Pett blew away from the rest of the field and had the race essentially wrapped up at the 600 meter mark as he went on to win by two and a half seconds; his 1:56.54 time is just shy of his outdoor personal best of 1:56.28.

Mengist's breakout win in the 3200

Springbrook senior Surafel Mengist had only recently made his indoor debut at the MCPS Meet #3 on Wednesday. Mengist was hardly the favorite in a loaded 3200 field that included names like Owen Johnson and Luke Tewalt, both of whom pushed the pace of the race early on. As the lead changed hands throughout, Mengist continued to move up until he took over the lead with about 400 meters to go. Just by looking at the results, you wouldn't tell that the race was still in question that late, but Mengist made sure to gap the rest of the field in the final couple of laps. His 9:23.77 time was a new personal best (indoor or outdoor) and a new MD #1.

Maryland makes mark on national DMR rankings

The River Hill boys already had a top-ten time in the distance medley this year, and Richard Montgomery joined them on Saturday. Even with Garrett Suhr running an anchor leg short of the sky-high standards he set by running 4:13 last spring, the Rockets still clocked in at 10:35, which closed the weekend as the ninth-fastest time in the state. A round back into form from Suhr could easily cut at least ten seconds off that time, and they could be a potential Penn Relays qualifier this year.

Fajr Kelly, unrivaled once again

There aren't many runners in the DC area that can challenge Roosevelt's (DC) Fajr Kelly in mid-distance events, and Saturday's meet was another example. Kelly bested a strong field of runners in the 500 meter dash, one that included seniors Jasmine Johnson (Franklin), Catherine Hyman (Potomac (VA)) and Javon Watts (Flowers). She doubled down with an even more dominant performance in the 800 meters, making 2:15 look fairly easy as she won her heat by ten seconds (and nine seconds overall). Kelly currently ranks seventh in the US in the 500 and 12th in the 800.

Girls mile an all-class affair

The top four girls in the invitational mile represented both youthful potential and veteran savvy. The youth came from Virginia, including winner Anna Macon Corcoran, who set a big personal best in the event (after focusing mainly on the 800 last spring). Northern's Oakley Olson and Walter Johnson's Jenna Goldberg, the two Maryland runners in the top four, now rank first and second in the state in the 1600/mile, non-Juliette Whittaker division. And Herndon's Gillian Bushée continues to impress, even though Saturday's race was the first one all season she lost. Her 5:08 converted time ranks sixth in the US among freshmen.

More shakeups in girls state rankings

The John Champe girls helped kick off Saturday's meet by setting a new Virginia state-leading time in a dominant 4x800 victory; their 9:42.76 time was exactly two seconds faster than West Springfield ran at the Liberty Premier Invitational back in Virginia. At the tail end of the meet, the Franklin girls - always one of the top 4x400 teams in Maryland - clocked a season-best time of 4:01, beating out Roosevelt (DC) and Bowie for the final win of the day. It's the second-fastest time in the state to date behind only Bullis.

Depry is first to clear 5'6

Wheaton senior Madison Depry remained undefeated on the season in the high jump, and on Saturday she broke a five-way tie on the state high jump leaderboard. Depry and four other girls had been tied for the state lead at 5'4, but Depry became the first Maryland girl to reach the 5'6 mark this winter. She cleared 5'8 last spring, and while she has only finished second at the state meet once (indoor 2018), she appears to be the current 4A favorite - at least until someone else clears 5'6.

Warrior Invitational

Senior Tyler Dregely continues his outstanding breakout senior season, setting season bests in the 500 and 800 on Saturday. He has now set indoor personal bests from the 500 to the 1600, and the only race he has lost this year was the 800 at the Howard County Winter Festival (where he finished third). His 1:58.98 performance in the 800 meter run is the fifth-fastest time in the state.

1A state XC champion Zane Chalker ran a personal best in the 3200 on Saturday, a dominant solo race that elevates him into the top ten of the state leaderboard. His 9:38 time leads all 2A runners (Williamsport moves up to the 2A classification for the indoor season).

A pair of hurdlers set big personal bests at Saturday's meet at HCC. Dulaney senior Abdul Henley, third at last year's 4A state meet in the 110 hurdles, ran 7.85 in the finals - only Laurel's Isaac Ojo has a faster time in 4A. Harford Tech junior Shimon Simpson broke eight seconds for the first time in the finals as well.

The South Carroll girls flexed their 800 muscles on Saturday, beginning by winning the 4x800 relay. It was a race that featured some of the top distance programs in the state, including Dulaney, Hereford and Oakdale. All four teams finished within five seconds of each other, led by the Cavaliers at 10:11.03, which currently leads all 2A teams.

Then, Grace Siehler and Madelyn Boyce came back later in the meet and went 1-2 in the open 800. It was a breakout performance from the sophomore who finished second, running the first 800 of her high school career. She finished fifth last year in the 400 at the 2A West regionals and had focused mainly on the 500 so far this winter, but her performance on Saturday bumps her up into the top 25 of the state rankings and sixth among sophomores.

The Hereford girls continue to go back-and-forth in the state pole vault rankings, although they were also joined by Severna Park's Sarah Adams who cleared 11'3 in the pole vault at the Montgomery Invitational. Junior Elizabeth Schriver kept pace with her, however, by also clearing 11'3 to win the Warrior Invitational. She had cleared exactly 11 feet at her first five meets of the year before setting a new personal best over the weekend.