Four years of high school track culminate with one final opportunity to be crowned a state champion at Morgan State University on Memorial Day Weekend.
Gaithersburg's Kaifa Boyce not only competed against his fellow athletes but also competed with a bad cough. He felt lousy as he jumped nearly a foot shorter than his personal best in the long jump to finish a disappointing ninth. He clocked 16.41 in the 110-meter hurdles which was his worst time of the season.
Despite his disappointment, Boyce said, "I just hope the triple jump goes as planned. I can't afford to lose that. Sick or not sick...I'll make MoCo proud tomorrow."
He found it hard to sleep that night, waking up several times coughing. At one point he said that it was difficult to drink anything. His determination would ultimately triumph over the cough.
"I missed the board every time, but at least I was consistent."
He explained that he jumped roughly 44 feet each time and took the lead on the second jump. He wanted to extend his lead knowing the other guys in the field could jump farther, but he could not find the board. Fortunately, his mark of 44-07.75 was enough to take the win.
As icing on the cake, he helped Gaithersburg record a time of 43.79 in the 4x100. It was the second fastest time by a MoCo public school team this year behind Paint Branch's 43.63.
Boyce also announced his commitment to Mount St. Mary's University.
Walter Johnson's Elad Covaliu nearly had a disastrous first day of competition. In the prelims of the 110-meter hurdles, his signature shades fell from his face as the gun was fired. His reaction was to reach forward and catch them, but once they were in his hands he decided to throw them away. The incident slowed him considerably at the start and he barely qualified for the finals with a time of 15.49.
The following day was all business sans the shades and he was pleased with the result. He finished third in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.95.
When asked where the shades went, Covaliu said that he never retrieved them because it's bad luck.
As for the 300-meter hurdles, both Paul Joseph of Clarksburg and Covaliu walked away shaking their heads. It was a highly-anticipated race with five competitors in the field who clocked under 39 seconds in their respective regional meet, but Joseph and Covaliu had off days with final times of 39.70 and 39.84 (4th and 5th) respectively.
And so concludes what was otherwise the most outstanding year in the 300-meter hurdles for MoCo athletes in recent memory.
There was much scuffling in the boys 1600m. Churchill's Will Conway, WJ's Josh Ellis, and QO's Evan Laratta all took turns leading during the first 800m in 2:12. On the third lap, Conway took the lead again and began to create separation. He had a 2-3 second gap on the field entering the fourth lap, but that lead started to close down in the final 200-meters of the race when Perry Hall's Vincent Ciattei initiated his monster kick. Ciattei not only passed Conway but created a 1+ second lead on the two-time indoor state champ to win his second state title of the weekend in 4:15.91.
After finishing second in 4:17.15, Conway's only comments were, "What are you going to do?"
Ellis was third in 4:21.17. Laratta was fourth in 4:22.88. Joshua Trzeciak of Wootton, who has looked nearly invincible all year, was never in contention to win and finished seventh in 4:26.19, roughly ten seconds slower than his personal best.
Trzeciak had nothing nice to say after that race, but he bounced back later in the day to win the 800-meter race in 1:54.50.
"I was so mad about the mile. I was running off anger."
He was very much in the middle of the pack at the 400-meter mark. He said that he questioned himself with 250 meters to go.
"Can I do this? I don't care. I'm going to win."
He charged down the final straightaway with his nostrils flared out like an angry bull until he crossed the finish line raising his index finger in the air. He looked up to the clock on the scoreboard to see his time and pumped his fist.
When asked about the earlier 1600-meter race, Trzeciak said, "Maybe I didn't have the conviction. Maybe I was too focused. I honestly can't explain it."
Whatever the case was, he was determined to redeem himself and he felt he did. The time of 1:54.50 was a personal best by over two seconds.
Watkins Mill was the top placing boys team in the 3A classification with points coming from William Yougnia, Dontay Hears, Patrick Schlosser, and relay contributions from Quinton Littlejohn and Sterling Cadeau.
Hears set personal bests in the long jump (21-08.75) and triple jump (44-02.25).
Schlosser was unable to run at the regional qualifying meet due to a leg injury, but he was fine when it came to the discus as evident by his region and state titles. Schlosser recovered well enouh to run at the state championship. As a result, Watkins Mill clocked county-leading times in the 4x200 (1:28.27, 3rd) and 4x400 (3:22.70, 2nd).
Saheed Oyeshile of Damascus placed third in the 3A open 400m with a county-leading time of 49.30.
Clarksburg's Samuel Adedeji (or Tobi Adedeji as most people know him) won the 4A discus state title with a mark of 148-03. Clarksburg was the top placing Montgomery County boys team in the 4A classification with a 4th place finish.
Northwest freshman Jalen Walker qualified for the finals in both the 100m (11.25) and 200m (22.41). He was the top freshman in the state and the top MoCo athlete of any grade level in both 4A races.