Poolesville's Rachel Daniels leads her class in the 500 meter dash this season after ranking 12th among them as a freshman. (Photo by Brandon Miles)
Track and field is a sport of progress and growth. Improvements in any event can be tracked and monitored easier than any almost any other sport. As we head into the home stretch of the 2020 indoor season, let's take a moment to spotlight some of the girls who have improved the most in every event dating back to last indoor season.
Last year's outdoor and/or this year's cross country performances are not taken into account - we are simply looking at last indoor season to this indoor season, one full year of elapsed time. Also, freshmen are not included, but we will continue to highlight the top freshmen in the state as the year goes on.
55 dash: Safarya Cheadle (Senior, Eleanor Roosevelt High School)
Last winter, Cheadle ran a personal best of 7.44 in the prelims of the 55 dash at the 4A East regionals, placing third (she later finished fifth in the finals, one spot shy of qualifying for states). Cheadle then finished sixth at the outdoor state meet in the 100 meter dash and then immediately set a personal best at the Ed Bowie Invitational this season. She has brought her time down from 7.44 to 7.18 seconds as she won her first Prince George's County title. Her time is tied as the MD #3 time in the state heading into regionals.
300 dash: K.C. Ashiogwu (Senior, Gaithersburg High School)
Last year was Ashiogwu's first indoor season, and she finished as the 4A West regional runner-up - but she did not run the 300 meters. While Ashiogwu focuses mainly on the jumps in the spring, she has excelled in the 300 meter dash this year from the beginning when she ran 40.97 at the Ed Bowie Invitational. That time is the fifth-fastest by a 4A runner.
500 dash: Rachel Daniels (Sophomore, Poolesville High School)
Daniels has emerged as one of the top sophomore sprinters in the state after taking an axe to her personal bests from last winter. She broke 1:20 in the 500 for the first time at the Montgomery County Championships where she finished third. Daniels leads all sophomores in the event this year and ranks fourth in the 2A classification.
800 run: Anaiya Bobo (Junior, Northwood High School)
As a sophomore last winter Bobo ran 2:31.02 in the 800, and her breakout has steadily taken place over the course of the following three seasons. She ran 2:20.30 in the event last spring, scoring at the 4A state meet, then finished 16th at the state cross country meet this fall. Bobo jumped fully into the state spotlight this past week with a win in the 800 at the Montgomery County Championships - her 2:22.61 time ranks fifth in the state.
1600 run: Katie Ericson (Senior, Annapolis High School)
Ericson's best performance in the 1600 as a junior was 5:32.56, good for 12th place at the 4A Central regionals. She cut two minutes off her three mile personal best this fall to hint at faster times on the track, which have come consistently this winter. She broke 5:30 in her first race of the season and ran a 5:14 personal best at the Anne Arundel County Championships, and currently ranks tenth in the state.
3200 run: Katherine Strong (Sophomore, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart)
On Saturday, Strong chopped 45 seconds off her personal best in the 3200 with a win at the Last Track to Philly Invitational. In just the first indoor 3200 of her career Strong's performance is eighth so far in the state and second-best among sophomores behind only Mount de Sales' Juliette Whittaker.
55 hurdles: Mikaela Lyons (Sophomore, Bullis High School)
Lyons' 8.89 time in the 55 meter hurdles as a freshman led all freshmen last indoor season (only McDonogh's Nyla Cherry joined her in breaking the nine-second mark). This year Lyons has increased her lead over the rest of the class, setting a new personal best of 8.60 this past weekend at the Bullis Speed Invitational in New York - the 11th-fastest time currently in the state of Maryland.
Shot Put: Hafsat Bakare (Junior, Old Mill High School)
Her ascent up the state rankings continued last week when she added another two feet to her personal best while winning the Anne Arundel County title in the shot put. At 39'10, she fell just shy of becoming the second girl in the state to eclipse the 40-foot mark in the event this winter. Last winter, Bakare won both the Anne Arundel County and 4A East regional titles in the shot put, but only with throws of 32'3 and 32'8.50, respectively. Her breakout is even more staggering considering she only reached the 34-foot mark just once last spring as well.
High Jump: Cayla Johnson (Senior, Riverdale Baptist High School)
Johnson was already one of the better all-around athletes in the state as a junior, but she has added the high jump to her event repertoire this indoor season. Johnson cleared 5'4 in a win at the Prince George's Holiday Invitational over the break in December, making her one of just seven girls in the state to reach that level so far this year.
Long Jump: Alexis Emery (Junior, Bullis High School)
Of the 11 girls in the state who have jumped 17 feet this indoor season, four come from Bullis. Of them, Emery has made the biggest jump this season: she had not competed in the long jump before last summer, but is now tied for ninth on the indoor state leaderboard. She leaped a personal best 17'2.25 at the Virginia Showcase two weekends ago.
Triple Jump: Manie Mevo (Sophomore, Quince Orchard High School)
Perhaps a candidate for the biggest one-year improvement, Mevo jumped 30'11 as a freshman last indoor season for the Cougars. She flashed her potential during the spring, clearing 35 feet at regionals and qualifying for the 4A state championships. This year she beat her outdoor personal best in her second try at the PR Holiday Invitational, and has gone under jump 36 feet or better (including a MD #2 37'10.75 in a victory at the Montgomery County Championships) at the last three meets.
Pole Vault: Sierra Reynolds (Senior, North Caroline High School)
Eight girls have cleared 10'6 in the pole vault this season. Of them, seven had cleared at least 9'6 last indoor. The eighth? Reynolds, who carried an indoor personal best of just nine feet heading into this year. That all changed on the very first meet of the year when she cleared 10'6, and she has gone ten feet or better three times this year, including her win at the Bayside Championships last week.