RECAP: 2023 MPSSAA 4A State Championship

Article Written by Isaiah Shiau

4A Girls

The Urbana girls triumphed over the 4A schools with a scoring strategy that swept the competition. Their strongest events seemed to be in the field events while also scoring in all three relay events.

In the field events, the Hawks scored a total of 24 points from the pole vault and shot put combined. Junior Roshna Vijayan took silver with a height of 9-00.00, behind Carson Boteler of Broadneck. Her teammates Bailey Smith and Daniela Delgado also managed to score 7 points together after a four-way tie occurred for 4th place. Meanwhile, in the shot put Samantha Heyison placed second with a throw of 36-06.00 for eight points with her teammate Claire Kim placing 6th for an additional three points. 

In the relays, Urbana scored four points after placing 5th and five points in the 4x200 relay after coming in 4th. In their final event of the night, the Urbana sprinters placed 2nd in the 4x400 relay for another 8 points.

Urbana girls also found more ways to score in the sprinting events, placing as high as possible. Angeline Amefia, Cia Siewe, and Divine Bamgboye all managed to qualify for the 55m hurdles finals putting them in scoring positions for a total of 10 points. Later on, Amefia (41.18) and her teammate Aurianna Gladden (41.65) scored a total of 8 points in the 300m.

MileSplit Maryland caught up with Urbana coach CJ Ecalono and asked him to talk about the girl's team and how they were able to perform so well. He stated, "Our culture is second to none and they all have each other's back. We preach keeping the 'baton' hot from event to event. We don't let our girls get too high or too low, we stay calm and continue to attack. They were able to do that tonight and we're super proud of them."

In the distance events, the dominance in school varied. Victoria Ketzler (5:05.08) from Thomas S Wooten who previously won the county and regional title in the 1600m went for her third championship win this season. Meanwhile, in the 3200, Elena Blodnikar from Leonardtown battled it out with Ani Bailin of Bethesda-Chevy Chase. The two had a sizable gap on the rest of the field but Blodnikar seized the win in 11:12.30, only 1.62 seconds before Bailin.

James Blake finished second scoring 38 points, 27 points behind Urbana. Brooke Cochran won the 300m dash running 39.85. They placed second in the 4x200 and third in the 4x800. Sierra Swangin also placed 3rd in the high jump with a jump of 5-0. 

C.H. Flowers showed that they have a very strong 1-2 punch in the hurdles as Nina Pitt and Jaelynn Blackwell took home gold and silver medals. Pitt ran 8.31 and Blackwell ran 8.50.

Boys 4A

Severna Park, known for being a powerhouse in distance running, pulled off an astounding win, 1.5 points ahead of Montgomery Blair, while not scoring any points in the sprints events. After graduating six of their seven varsity distance runners, they still have depth in their lineup. Following the meet, Liam Hagerty, one of the Falcon's top runners explained they simply have a "program [that's] built to keep the guys up next in shape and ready for when their time comes". 

The Falcons lived up to this statement as Hagerty and Christopher Nunn went 1-2 in the 3200m with another teammate, Sean Sullivan, also scoring in 6th place. While it was a close race between the two, the last 100m was a mad sprint to the line with Hagerty winning in 9:35.70.

In addition to the 21 points from the 3200, Severna Park kicked off the meet guns blazing after winning the 4x800 relay. Their team consisting of Brooks Steppe, Liam Hagerty, Cody Smith, and Alex Lecouras ran a time of 8:09.99, scoring another 10 points for the Falcons.

Steppe (1:58.66) and Lecouras (2:02.70) also competed in the open 800m and scored 10 more points combined. Steppe finished 2nd behind Tyler Dailey of Dulaney who won in 1:58.47. Following Ty Dailey, the Lion's star runner who previously won the 4A cross-country state title also tackled the 1600m, winning in 4:27.51.

After the meet, MileSplit Maryland caught up with head Severna Park coach, Josh Alcombright, and asked him about his thoughts on his boys and winning a state championship. He stated, "I'm really proud of how the boys managed the "stress" of having to be pretty much perfect tonight. We only had five opportunities to accumulate points. There wasn't much room for error. Every point mattered and you can never underestimate how important those 5th, 6th, and 7th places are."

While Severna Park and Dailey seemed to be the prime competitors in distance running, Montgomery Blair was on top in the sprint events. Senior Micah McKenzie (1:08.08) narrowly beat North County's Israel Ogwu in the 500m by 0.01 seconds for the win. The Blazers also placed 3rd in the 4x200 anchored by McKenzie and placed 2nd in the 4x400 in which McKenzie led off as the first leg. 

Mykel Morman was also an individual double gold winner of the evening as he won the 55m dash (6.36) and the 300m Dash (34.97) and showed that he is the top sprinter in the 4A classification.