The Most Surprising State Champions

Parkdale's Yassine Kamara won the 4A shot put title by a huge margin - and she wasn't even the favorite entering the meet! (Photo by John Roemer)

Often times, races at the state meet go as predicted at the front end. The athletes who have spent all season as the best in their respective events end up taking home state titles in February. However, there are times when someone new breaks through to win a title. These athletes weren't necessarily regarded as favorites heading into the meet, and sometimes weren't the regional or county/conference champions, either. We took a look back and highlighted the ten most unlikely state champions who emerged at the 2020 indoor meet.

Joseline Adeoye (Largo): 1A state champion in the girls high jump

Adeoye has only begun jumping during this, her sophomore indoor season. She cleared 4'10 as early as late December, but she hadn't won a single high jump competition through regionals, where she cleared five feet for the first time. She turned in one of the most surprising state meet performances, however, clearing 5'4 to beat out Havre de Grace's Akcire Alston-Buck and her own teammate Sanaya Ross.

KC Ashiogwu (Gaithersburg): 4A state champion in the girls 500 meter dash

The second section of the 4A girls 500 was exciting, but none of the girls could beat KC Ashiogwu's time from the first section. (Photo by Craig Amoss)

Had Ashiogwu not run a personal best 1:16.76 in the first heat of the 500, there would have still been a surprising state champion in Urbana's Lydia Robling who had finished fourth at regionals. When the dust had settled and the times were made official, Ashiogwu came out on top, having won the first heat by three and a half seconds. It was just her second-ever win in the 500 meter dash and the first since December 2018.

Taishaun Craddock (Dundalk): 3A state champion in the boys 55 meter hurdles

It wasn't that Craddock hadn't run well leading into the state meet - he was the 3A Central regional champion in the hurdles - but the 3A state field included Hammond's Loick Amouzou, still the only boy in Maryland to have run under 7.50 seconds this year. After finishing third in the prelims, Craddock clocked a big personal best of 7.56 to edge Amouzou and win his first title.

Yassine Kamara (Parkdale): 4A state champion in the shot put

Not only did Kamara - who hadn't placed higher than third at any shot put competition this year - win the 4A state title, but she did so by over two and a half feet. She threw 38'7.50 (the fifth-best mark in Maryland this year) after entering the meet with a personal best of 36'3.50.

Cameron Rejonis (Smithsburg): 1A state champion in the boys 800 meter run

With a season-best time over five seconds faster than any other 1A runner, Largo's Anthony Hill was the clear favorite in the 800 heading into the state meet. So when Hill scratched from the race, it suddenly became the most wide-open event of the entire state meet. In the end, it was Smithsburg freshman Cameron Rejonis - who had won county and regional titles in the 800, but never run faster than 2:08.55 - who emerged victorious.

Samuel Starrs (Oakdale): 2A state champion in the boys pole vault

As if the Oakdale boys needed any extra points in their quest for a team title, sophomore Samuel Starrs stepped up in a big way in the pole vault and won his first career state title. He entered the state meet with a personal best mark of 13'6 and had not won a single pole vault competition this winter, but that didn't matter as he cleared 14'3 and beat out the South Carroll duo of Patrick Tunkel and Peyton Thomas.

Hafis Upshaw (Arundel): 4A state champion in the boys 300 meter dash

Unlike some of the other athletes on this list, Upshaw had actually gone undefeated in the 300 meter dash entering the state meet. So why was his victory a surprise? His race featured four other runners who had run faster than him this year including Bowie's Brandon Nya (US #3 33.75, multiple sub-35s at the Sportsplex) and defending state champion Chukwumdi Osuji. Upshaw beat all of them at the state meet, dropping his personal best by more than half a second in the process.

Owen Welty (Walkersville): 2A state champion in the boys 500 meter dash

Welty's personal best entering the state meet stood at 1:08.66, and he had finished just second at regionals behind Century's Tyler Dregely. He also was far from the favorite at the beginning of the race as well, but a strong charge over the final 200-plus meters shot him all the way into the forefront of the field, edging Kent Island's Isaiah Schulties to win his first state championship.

Old Mill: 4A state champions in the boys 4x200 meter relay

A few DQs, DNSs and DNFs led to a crazy final field in the 4A boys 4x200 - one that featured only eight qualifying teams. In the end it was Old Mill and Clarksburg, who had each run in the first section, going 1-2 in the 4x200.

Urbana: 4A state champions in the girls 4x200 meter relay

Speaking of more DQs - the favorites from Richard Montgomery edged Urbana in the final section of the 4A girls 4x200, but the Rockets were disqualified, meaning Urbana was crowned champions (and would go on to sweep the relays). The Urbana girls likely would not have even been considered the favorites after Richard Montgomery, but their depth allowed them to put junior Ella Auderset on all three relays, including the 4x200.