Article Written by Isaiah Shiau
The official 2023 MPSSAA Outdoor Track season came to a close this past weekend at the Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex. Starting on Friday with the preliminary events and closing on Saturday afternoon, fans, coaches, and athletes of all trades packed the stadium. In a close scoring, the Governor Thomas Johnson Patriots brought home the boys' 3A state title while the River Hill Hawks won the girls' team title.
Starting off in the opening event of day 1, the 4x800 relay was a close race between the two region champions. Chopticon had the faster seed time of 8:02.19, but Manchester Valley had Tennesse commit Carter Knox anchoring for their squad. Although Knox had a 1:52.93 personal best under his sleeve, Weston Carr of Chopticon managed to edge out Knox by a few seconds.
Up next in the finals was the 3200m, and Antonio Camacho Bucks of Centennial took the win after a slow sit-and-kick race. Although the pack seemed mostly condensed, nearing the final 100m, Camacho Bucks powered past James Partlow of Governor Thomas Johnson to win in a time of 9:29.06, inching out Partlow by 0.14 seconds in a close call.
Starting up day 2, Dayson Shell of Milford Mill made a comeback in the finals after originally placing second behind KaVon Turner in the preliminary rounds. After multiple false starts in the finals that thankfully resulted in no DQs, Shell took the win running 10.76
Watch the boy's 3A 100m Final
In the 1600m, a very similar race played out to the 3200m from the previous day. Camacho Bucks of Centennial sat in the middle of the pack, waiting to strike until the bell lap when he began to close on Partlow and Colin Abrams of Magruder who were in the lead. Ultimately Camacho Bucks beat them to the line and earned his second title of the day with a first-place time of 4:14.71.
Camacho Bucks and Abrams went head to head again in the open 800m, but not before Carter Knox threw himself into the mix. Knox had the fastest seed time with Camacho Bucks seeded second. However, Abrams, who runs a personal best of 1:52.64 managed to finish second behind Knox. The race came down to a final lean by Knox when he dove at the line, managing to win by 0.03 seconds.
Watch Carter Knox talk about his diving 800m win!
Knox also placed second in the open 400m respectively after running 49.19 behind Jack Hynes of Bel Air, who won in 48.66. Jordan Tuck from Northern (49.49) finished third followed by Aaron Abedin from Mount Hebron in 49.68.
Thomas Johnson gathered more points in the pole vault scoring 14 points from the collective scores of Dillen Owusu and Gilberto Ramos who both jumped heights of 12-06-00 or 3.81m. They tied for third scoring 5.5 points each. Luke Freimanis also scored for Thomas Johnson in sixth place after jumping a height of 12-06-00 as well.
In the 4x400 relay, an upset occurred to close off the meet. Manchester Valley was DQd after a false start, preventing the Mavericks from defending their previous title in 2022. Northern, who placed second in the state last year and had the third-fastest seed time seemed to be out of the race by the third leg handoff. This opened up an opportunity for Chesapeake-AA to take the win after they ran a first-place time of 3:20.86.
The River Hill girl's team brought home the 3A girls' state title with a swift scoring tactic. What made this possible? The freshman twins Marella and Lauren Virmani. The duo scored a total of 49 points for their team in an astounding performance.
In the 4x800 relay on day 1, the Virmani twins, along with Dylan Watson and Cora Cheer, battled it out with the Tuscarora Titans and Mount Hebron Vikings for the first-place spot. The Hawks earned their first win of the meet after Marella Virmani anchored them to victory in 9:33.41.
Lauren Virmani didn't stop there for Friday, as she competed without her sister in the 3200m finals. Although Lauren Stine beat her to the line in a close race of a 0.09-second gap, Lauren scored 8 points for the Hawks. The former indoor 1600m state champion Hannah Toth placed third in 11:00.97.
Senior Larasia Buckner contributed to the winning efforts kicking off day 2 after placing third in the 100m hurdles. Buckner scored 6 points and also ran a new MD #17 time for the season of 14.85. Kayla Rorie (14.62) of Great Mills came in first with Zaniah Ali (14.77) of Baltimore City College in second place respectively.
The other sprinting events were dominated by Mount Hebron's Arayana Ladson who won both the 100m finals and 200m finals. The junior Viking won by a sizeable gap in the 100m, quickly accelerating from the pack to win in a time of 12.14. Later on, Ladson would win the 200m in 24.83, winning by 0.65 seconds ahead of Howard sophomore Bianca Durant. Ladson also scored six more points in the long jump after placing third in five attempts.
Watch Ladson talk about her double golds at States!
Moving back to the distance events, an incredible race resulted in three freshman girls stealing the podium while also dipping under the 5-minute barrier of the mile. Marella Virmani won in an astounding time of 4:53.71 while her sister placed third in 4:56.90. However, Hailey Lane of Tuscarora threw her hat in the ring after she placed second between the twin duo, running 4:56.00. This race spun out a new MD #1 season time as well as a #2 and #4 season-best time in the state.
Watch 3 Freshman go 1-2-3 in the 1600, all under 5:00!
In the open 800m, new contenders were introduced. Alongside the Virmani twins were sophomores Riley Herdson from Centennial and Elizabeth Szybalski of Manchester Valley. Szybalski led the race through 400m with an aggressive gap before Herdson and Marella Virmani began to close at the bell lap. Ultimately Herdson was edged out at the line as Marella took the win with a 0.20-second gap.
To close off the afternoon of the 3A state championship, the Oxon Hill girls ran a 3:59.08 in the 4x400. The Clippers managed to take down the previous state champions from 2022, Northern high school.