The final section of the boys 300 meter dash at Wednesday's Montgomery County Championships was one of the most exciting races of the week. (Photo by Brandon Miles)
January 20: Frederick County Championships
Linganore's Cole Williamson was one of the top freshmen in the state during the fall and he won his first county title on Monday, edging Oakdale's Collin Dempsey in the 3200. His 10:05.69 time is the second-best among freshmen this year behind only John Carroll's Nick Singleakis.
Clearing an extra four inches in the high jump at every meet isn't something that happens often but Frederick's Kris Marshall found a way to do it for the second straight meet on Monday. After raising his personal best from 5'4 to 5'8 in December, Marshall cleared six feet at the county championships to win his first county title. Marshall also leads Frederick County in both the long and triple jumps this winter.
Once again the top spot on the state pole vault leaderboard changed hands on Monday. Linganore's Carter Holsinger jumped back into the top spot by clearing 15 feet in the pole vault for the first time all year and just the fourth time in his career. Teammate Ethan Hart also cleared a big milestone, breaking 50 feet in the shot put for the first time. His 51'0.50 mark is a current MD #6 performance.
It wasn't just in the boys pole vault that the Lancers excelled on Monday. Senior Myah Davies, who finished third in the event at last year's outdoor state meet, set a new personal best of 10'3, becoming just the ninth girl in the state to reach the ten-foot mark this winter.
January 21: Anne Arundel County Championships
Tuesday featured the first showdown between two of the top distance runners in the state, South River's Sam Keeny and Arundel's Tanner Piotrowski. Keeny led for the entirety of the boys 3200 and was able to pull away, then followed that up with a gutsy winning performance in the 800 in his third race of the day.
However, Keeny may not have even been South River's top performer of the county championship, because senior Corey Troxler was winning events left and right throughout the evening. After finishing third in the hurdle prelims, he was a surprise winner in the 55 meter hurdle finals in which he set a new personal best of 8.37. His other two wins came on the field - while his 13'6 mark in the pole vault was actually his lowest performance of the season it was more than enough to bring home ten points for the Seahawks. Finally, Troxler's best performance of the day came in the high jump, where he cleared 6'2 for the first time in his career (and now becomes one of just five boys in 4A to have done so this winter).
While we didn't see South River's Bronwyn Patterson on the course this fall, it's safe to say that she's fully back - and excelling in the mid-distance events. The three-time state champion was a runaway winner in both the 500 and 800 on Tuesday, and she is still the only 4A girl to have run under 2:20 in the latter event at the PG Sportsplex this season.
Both the girls 1600 and 3200 races were among the best of the night, especially the latter. A group of seven girls whittled down to three by the final 400 meters: Arundel's Kirstin Nichols, Annapolis' Katie Ericson and Severna Park's Sophia Zell. Having not run the 1600 earlier, Nichols - who had led most of the race - was the one with the last extra gear on the final straightaway as she won her first Anne Arundel County title.
Big personal bests in the high jump were a pattern on Tuesday; Arundel's Maya Murchison had yet to clear 5'2 in her career (and had only cleared five feet twice) beforehand, but reached that height to win her first county title as well.
Finally, the biggest jump up the state rankings of the day evening may have belonged to Old Mill's Hafsat Bakare. The junior thrower added two feet to her personal best in the shot put, falling just a few inches shy of becoming the second girl in Maryland to reach 40 feet this winter. Still, 39'10 is the best mark in the state by a public school athlete and over seven and a half feet better than her county-winning performances from last winter.
Don't tell Dulaney's Abdul Henley that the Baltimore Armory is supposed to slow you down. The senior blasted a 7.70 personal best performance in the 55 hurdle finals of Tuesday's county championships and shot up to fifth on the state leaderboard (and first among 4A runners). It was also his first county title after finishing second in the short hurdles both last winter and spring.
The 4x400 battle between Woodlawn and Milford Mill may not have been a state meet preview (as Milford Mill is down to the 2A classification this year) but it could have very well been a battle of two state favorites in their respective classifications. The two team's times of 3:36.26 and 3:36.97, respectively, were easily the top two times at the Baltimore County championships during the past decade. Both teams also currently the only ones in their respective classifications to have run under 3:30 this year.
The fast section of the girls 300 at Wednesday's Montgomery County Championships featured many of the top 4A runners in the event. (Photo by Brandon Miles)
For the second straight year, the Paint Branch boys won the Montgomery County team title on the strength of their sprinters. Seniors Alonzo McBryde, Chukwumdi Osuji and Jaeden Burke went 1-2-3 in the 55 dash, scoring 24 points; Burke and Osuji came back to go 1-2 in a thrilling boys 300 meter dash and Osuji added ten points in a long jump victory. Finally, they all came back to become the first team in the state to go under 1:30 in the 4x200 relay at the PG Sportsplex.
Damascus senior Tamrat Snyder has been one of the top 800/1600 runners in Maryland this year, but has also recently started moving down to the 500 meter dash, in which he may have a better shot at a state title than the 1600. Wednesday's upset over county meet record holder Seydi Sall of Richard Montgomery did nothing to put that notion in doubt - and his double back in 1:57.75 in the 800 has him squarely as the 3A favorite in both events should he run them at states.
A few teams shuffled around in the relay rankings on Wednesday. The state-leading Richard Montgomery boys did not run a 4x800, opening the door for Northwood to win (and drop a MD #2 8:03 in the process). If Richard Montgomery does not run their 'A' team at states it would open the door up for both Northwood and Severna Park. The Rockets, however, did run an 'A' team 4x400 that ranks sixth in 4A from the slow section, narrowly finishing second to Springbrook on time.
The Northwest boys nearly reclaimed the top spot in the county and, per usual, did so on the strength of their jumps. Senior Bryce Middleton won both the high and triple jumps, clearing 6'4 in the former for the first time. Joining him on reaching that milestone was sophomore Darius Lorfils, the runner-up in both the high jump and 55 hurdles. They are now two of just four boys in Maryland to have cleared 6'4 this winter.
Senior Madison Depry was a points machine for Wheaton all evening on Wednesday. Her best performance was a personal best 7.18 in the 55 meter finals that ties her with Roosevelt's Safarya Cheadle for the top time in 4A. She also won the high jump and finished second in the 300.
Winning the 300 was Richard Montgomery's Caia Gelli. After she broke 40 seconds for the first time at the Virginia Showcase last weekend she did the same for the first time at the Sportsplex; her 39.84 winning time was more than a second faster than her time from last year's state meet when she won in 40.94. It was a stacked final, too, as four of the top five girls in 4A (Gelli, Depry, Quince Orchard's Kyra Lyles and Gaithersburg's K.C. Ashiogwu) were in the race.
There was no true favorite heading into the girls 800, and many of the top entered runners were already coming off of prior races. Northwood's Anaiya Bobo was one of the exceptions. She took the lead early in Wednesday's race and never looked back, running an indoor personal best of 2:22.61 that vaulted her all the way up to fifth on the state leaderboard.
Paint Branch senior Kaya Rae Dunbar continues to remain unmatched in the short hurdles in both Montgomery County and 4A. She won both the 55 and 100 meter hurdle titles last year as a junior and appears to be well on her way once again; her 8.17 season best that she ran at the county meet is easily the fastest time among 4A runners so far this season.
In our interview with Quince Orchard's Kyra Lyles last week we mentioned that Lyles and her teammates have been continuously re-writing the school record books this season. One of those teammates is sophomore Manie Mevo, who scored 18 individual points on Wednesday. She paired big personal bests in both the long (17'2, MD #10) and triple (37'10.75, MD #2) jumps and has become one of the top jumpers in the state. While the horizontal jumps won't be contested on the regional and state levels, she will carry plenty of momentum into the outdoor season, where she, Lyles and the rest of her teammates could score some serious points in team competitions.
Blake Walton, last year's 2A 300 meter hurdle state champion, showed that he's much more than just a hurdler on Wednesday evening. While he did finish second in the 55 meter hurdles, Walton's best performance of the day was a 36.39 winning effort in the 300 meter dash. It's the top Maryland time at the Worcester County Recreation Center we have in our database this decade and hints that he's capable of something even faster at the PG Sports Complex.
Kent Island junior Isaiah Schulties was a workhorse on Wednesday, winning the 1600, 500 and 800 meters. His 1:07.87 time in the 500 meter dash was a personal best, fourth-fastest in 2A this year and also the fastest by a Maryland runner at the Worcester County Recreation Center in our database.
The top performance of the day, however impressive the first two were, belonged to North Caroline's Samantha Cash. She went a perfect four-for-four on the day, winning the 300, 500 and 55 hurdles on the track and also winning the high jump to total 40 of the Bulldogs' 97 points by herself. Cash set a personal best in the 300 meter dash; she ranks among the top nine girls in the 2A classification in all four events, tied for first in the high jump (5'4) and second in the 55 hurdles.