Jaeden Burke scored 14 points individually for the Paint Branch boys on Tuesday to help them overcome a DQ in the 4x200 relay. (Photo by Craig Amoss)
Even before the 4x200 squads from Bowie and Wise did not start in the fast section at Tuesday's state meet, Paint Branch was arguably the favorite to win, being the only team this year to have run under 1:30 at the PG Sportsplex. Without Bowie and Wise, the Panthers ran nearly unopposed, dipping under 1:30 once again, more than three seconds faster than any other 4A team had run.
The joy - and the ten crucial team points that came with it - did not last, however. The Paint Branch boys were disqualified shortly afterward, awarding the title to Old Mill, who had edged Clarksburg in the first section. Without the ten points, the team battle got much more interesting heading into the 4x400 (they would have already wrapped up the team title beforehand). Richard Montgomery entered with 42 points and pulled away on the anchor leg behind senior Seydi Sall. Paint Branch, meanwhile, finished second in the fast section and fourth overall, good enough for the five points needed to edge the Rockets by one point and win their second straight 4A title.
With a one-point margin of victory, every point mattered for Paint Branch. They went 2-3-6 in the 55 dash finals led by senior Alonzo McBryde, while Jaeden Burke and Chukwumdi Osuji finished second and fourth in the 300, respectively. Ajuani Hall and Julian Smith scored in the hurdles, as did junior Nsereko Kiwalabye in the 500 and senior Yabsira Gugsa in the 800. Their final two points came courtesy of the 4x800 at the beginning of the meet.
Richard Montgomery had plenty of bright spots in their runner-up effort, their first finalist finish since 1998. Senior Seydi Sall led the way, anchoring both the 4x800 and 4x400. His 1:56 unofficial split on the 4x800 led them to a win over Northwood, as well as a new overall state meet record (7:59.00). He ran away from the field in the final 100 meters of the 500 later on, going 1:05.77 despite dealing with sickness after the 4x800.