What a difference one year can make. Wootton's Maya Gottesman ran 12:55 in the 3200 as a freshman last winter, and then kicked off her sophomore track season with an 11:57 performance earlier this week. (Photo by Brandon Miles)
While some athletes have been able to compete over the course of the past calendar year, for many, the 2021 spring season represents the first time to compete in over an entire calendar year. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that many are showing up and running faster, jumping higher and throwing further than before. We selected one athlete per event who has shown the makings of a big breakout through the early part of the 2021 outdoor season!
100 Meters: Sanaa Virgil, Elizabeth Seton
The Roadrunners have one of the top groups of young and emerging sprinters in the DC area and sophomore Virgil is at the head of the movement. She broke the 13-second mark in the 100 meter dash back on April 17 and her 12.73 mark still ranks second among all sophomores in the state.
200 Meters: Madison Parham, Mercy
Parham won an IAAM indoor title in the 500 as a sophomore back in the winter of 2020, then cracked the one-minute barrier in the 400 this past winter. So far this spring Parham has clocked big personal bests in the 200 (25.94, MD #13) and 400 (57.50, MD #3) and looks like one of the state's top rising juniors.
400 Meters: Lauren Leath, Bullis
One of the top freshman sprinters in the winter of 2020 (59.31 400), Leath showed out at the Speed Capital Mid-Atlantic Invitational earlier this week; she won both the 400 (57.89, MD #5) and 800 (2:19.74, MD #2).
800 Meters: Myla Abernathy, Catonsville
Over the past two years, Abernathy has dropped her time in the 800 from 2:44 to 2:25. The big improvements started to show this past winter when she ran 2:28 at adidas Indoor Nationals. She then kicked off her spring track season with a 2:25 performance, which puts her tied for eighth on the current state leaderboard.
1600 Meters: Emma Kerr, Broadneck
The Broadneck girls have a chance to be a contender in the 4A field next fall and the emergence of sophomore Emma Kerr is a big reason why. After clocking a 19:21 3M in the fall she opened her spring with a 5:26 performance in the 1600 - the fastest time by any sophomore so far this spring.
3200 Meters: Maya Gottesman, Wootton
In her last season in a Wootton uniform, Gottesman ran 12:55 as a freshman. Gottesman's season-opening 11:57 performance was a personal best by nearly a full minute and makes her one of just eight girls currently under 12 minutes in Maryland.
100 Meter Hurdles: Chanell Devaughn, MerVo
Devaughn set her previous personal best in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2019 Baltimore City Championships, meaning it had been almost two full calendar years between sub-16 performances in the event. Devaughn erased that stretch in her second Baltimore City league meet of the year, then set a 15.20 personal best at the DMV Showcase two weeks ago that ranks third in the state.
300 Meter Hurdles: Leanely Cruz, Maryvale Prep
Cruz's freshman year at Maryvale Prep was brought to a halt after the indoor season, but a year later she hasn't missed a beat. One of the top hurdlers in the IAAM, Cruz ran 49.20 in her first 300-meter hurdle race in a Maryvale Prep uniform, a current top-ten mark in the state.
Shot Put: Lacey Fowler, South River
An outdoor-only competitor, it has been two years since Fowler threw for South River; as a sophomore, she finished third at the 2019 4A state meet. She kicked off her senior year with a 39'4 personal best that beat her old mark by nearly two feet and ranks third in Maryland at the moment.
Discus: Ryann Brown, St. Charles
Brown hadn't thrown discus since all the way back in the 2018 outdoor season as a freshman, when she recorded a personal-best mark of 78'2. This spring, the St. Charles senior has come out firing on all cylinders in the cage, clearing 90 feet in her first three competitions. She fell just one inch shy of the 100-foot mark on April 20, and that mark places her third on the current SMAC leaderboard.
High Jump: Madison Shaffery, John Carroll
One of the early candidates for breakout athlete of the year, Shaffery cleared five feet in her first meet of the year on April 9. What did she do as an encore two weeks later? Only clear 5'5 - three inches better than any other girl in Maryland has currently cleared.
Long Jump: Arielle Troadec, Holton-Arms
Her long jump debut against National Cathedral went about as well as possible, as her 16'6 performance ties her for ninth on the current state leaderboard, looking directly up at the only two sophomores (Akata Wise and Sanaa Virgil) ahead of her.
Triple Jump: Gabriella McDuffie, Westlake
McDuffie's previous personal best came in her last performance at the 2020 indoor SMAC Championships. That old mark is now squarely in the past, as her 36'11 debut this season beat it by over four feet.
Pole Vault: Arden Martino, Spalding
Four girls currently own season bests over ten feet in the pole vault, and three of them (Elizabeth Schriver, Darian Hauf and Lizzie Lopez) are familiar faces. The newcomer? Sophomore Arden Martino, whose 11'6 personal best ties her with Hauf for the #2 spot on the state leaderboard.