The last time I was at a track meet was one year agoóback here at Morgan State. Itís different being a spectatoróon the outside looking in (the only one with a laptop). However, the atmosphere is still the same. Athletes gearing up for the most important meet of the year. Dual meets donít matter. County championships donít matter. Regionals donít matter. Itís all about your performance at States. Similarly, the last time I wrote an article, which was also a year ago, I wasnít sure who was going to step up and fill the shoes of some of the elite female athletes who were graduating. But as I was watching 3A and 4A today, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. And on this breezy Friday afternoon, some athletes delivered, while others fell short.
The 3A 4x800 race was the first of the day. BCCís first leg did well on the first lap, however trying to keep up with Largo caused her to fade away coming into the first exchange. Largo had a huge lead on the 2nd leg but Damascus still managed to keep up with the competition. Coming into the final exchange, BCC got back in the race and came in 4th with 9:44.85. Damascus ran 10:00.01 for 10th and Einstein came in 11th with 10:06.34, which is the fastest time Iíve ever seen my alma mater run.
MoCo girls had much more success in 4A with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th going to Whitman, Northwest, and Churchill respectively. Whitman had the fastest seed coming into the race but the victory went to Eleanor Roosevelt who led from start to finish. Morgane Gay and Leslie Morrison closed the gap during their respective legs and helped their team run an excellent time and season best of 9:16.22. While Whitman tried to catch Roosevelt, Northwest and Churchill consistently remained in the top 5 and finished in 9:26.59 and 9:28.31, respectively. Although they didnít place, Wootton still ran a strong time of 9:50.99 for 7th place.
Moving along to the 100m, no MoCo athlete advanced to the finals in 3A, but Olivia Ekpone more than made up for that with her preliminary time in 4A. You know youíre fast when someone (meaning me) stops her oh so important phone conversation just to watch you run. And when the commentator said that she unofficially ran an 11.3, I almost jumped out of my seat. Iíve heard much about Ekpone and to see her pull away from the field and make it look effortless was justÖgreat. Her 11.68 was not only the fastest qualifying time or a season best, but also the 3rd fastest time ever at the State meet. Tomorrow, Iím sure that Ekpone will not only be aiming for 1st, but for the state record as well. Also qualifying for the 100m was Katie Wolf of Churchill, who had the 4th fastest time with 12.13 and is certainly a contender for Top 3.
Things havenít been the same since Audrey Gariepy and the other notable hurdlers left. Yet a few girls have a chance to place if they put on their A game for the finals. Freshman Thea Lafond from Kennedy, who has preformed solidly throughout the season, stuttered in the beginning of her 100m hurdle race causing her to run a sub-par 16.67. Yet, she got the final qualifying spot, allowing her another chance to hopefully place top 3, of which she is quite capable. In 4A, Amirah Polite of Churchill ran a solid 15.14 and Katherine Salke of Sherwood ran 15.26, both making it to the final round.
In the 3A 200m, Arielle Statham of Paint Branch was out in the front for most of her race until the final meters where Jones of Western caught her. She still ran a season best of 25.09 and hopefully can use the other girls to run another PR and place high in the finals. Ekpone continued to dominate in 4A, running an amazing time of 23.98, making her the athlete to beat. Wolf also qualified running 24.60. Alissa Jewell of Gaithersburg ran a respectable time of 25.77.
For the 3200, Addie Tousley of BCC held it down for MoCo in the 3200m race, coming in 2nd with a season best 11:24.98. MoCo took 3 of the Top 6 spots in 4A. Iím not sure if it was just me and my impatience, but the race seemed to be moving slow as there was still a pack before going into the final lap. Britt Eckerstrom of Northwest made the first move to break away but Rivers from Roosevelt followed and it became a battle between these two for much of the final lap. Going into the final 200m, Rivers used her speed to lead her to a victory, but Eckerstrom maintained her position and placed 2nd with 11:16.91. Coming in 3rd was Jessie Rubin of Wootton with a season best 11.19.54. Aimee Moores of Quince Orchard ran 11:23.53, which is also a season best. Although she came in 7th place, Debbie Isen of Walt Whitman still had a solid time of 11:33.62.
As the meet came to an end, I got to watch my favorite event of the day: the 4x200m relay. Although Iím not covering the male races, I must say I was quite impressed with some of the times. Unfortunately, Westlake and Meade werenít even in the same heat. About 15 minutes earlier, Paint Branch ran a good time of 1:44.71, which probably wouldíve placed in previous years, but only got them 8th place this year. Kennedy didnít run as well as they did in Regionals, but still ran a decent 1:47.38. As I sat by my former coach, he asked me if I thought Wootton would be able to win the 4A race and I told him, ďIt all depends on whether Roosevelt puts their A-teamĒ (which is my answer for everything). Well, Wotton didnít beat Roosevelt but they had the highest MoCo finish, coming in 4th with 1:42.65. Shaky handoffs prevented Wootton from having a better time and by the final leg, Ekpone had too much ground to try and cover. Coming in 7th with another solid time of 1:44.67 was Gaithersburg. Walter Johnson had a clear victory in the first heat with 1:45.50 and Blair came second in that heat with a respectable time of 1:46.14.
Shifting over to the field events, Lafond had much more success in the 3A Triple Jump, placing 3rd in the finals with 36-07.00 feet. Had she jumped her season best of 37-10, she wouldíve been state champ, but she has 3 more years to go for that title. Statham, who is a strong triple jumper, had an off day and came in 10th with 32-03.75 feet. Suzanne Falk of Wotton came in 2nd in 4A with a season best of 36-06.00 feet. Serenah Polite of Churchill, who isnít even on the Mocorunning.com leaderboard, came in 4th with a jump of 34-05.75.
Amanda Zyzak of Damascus just missed placing in the 3A discus, throwing 100-05 feet for 7th place. Unfortunately, Arleigh Rose of Sherwood was unable to defeat her biggest competitor in the discus, Emily Vannoy from Thomas Johnson. She threw 118-00 feet, which was certainly not her best, but good enough for 2nd. Octavia King of Blake improved more than 10 feet since the Cougar Relays and came in 4th with a throw of 110-00 feet.
Today proved that MoCo girls shall not be overlooked. A number of girls from all the regions have a chance to prove tomorrow that they are among the best in the state. While nothing is ever certain in track, I believe that we have a couple of state titles coming our way. I expect records to be broken, hearts to be shattered, and mouths to be picked off the floor. So I would suggest to all you MoCo fans to be in attendance, because it is certainly the dawn of a new era.