Taylor Wright's parting words after last year's outdoor track state championship meet
dictated that she had no desire to convert to a hurdler, but the triple jump state champion indicated that she was interested in taking the high
jump more seriously in her sophomore year. Coach Robert Youngblood said that Wright ran track through the summer, but the high jump training did not
begin until this indoor track season, just a little over a month ago.
In the first few meets of the season, Wright was too busy sprinting to focus on the high jump. She jumped at the PG Relays, but it was nothing to
get very excited about with a mark of 4-04. Coach Youngblood pulled her out of the high jump competition early to stay focused on the sprints. At
MCPS Meet #3 on Tuesday, Wright did the opposite by pulling out of the open 300-meter dash to focus on the high jump instead. The result was
Wright won the high jump competition with a mark of 5-06, which tied for the second best mark indoors by an MCPS athlete in the last decade. It was
the best high jump mark by an MCPS sophomore indoors or outdoors in at least a decade. It was a new Northwest High School record.
Northwest of course continued its dominance as a team in the field events with Stephanie
Bateky and Eddita Pessima also finishing in the top four in the high jump plus two girls placing in the top four in the shot put. Bateky won the
triple jump with a mark of 34-10.00 (new County #1 mark this season) and long jump with a mark of 16-03.25. Northwest actually swept the top three
spots in the long jump with the help of Eddita Pessima and Atinuke Shittu.
The last note on field events: Toni Koroye of Walter Johnson High School took over the new county lead in the girls shot put with a new indoor
personal best mark of 31-06.00.
Northwest notched individual victories on the track from Sofia Zarate in the 3200m
(12:03.85), Eddita Pessima in the 55-meter hurdles (8.67, new MCPS #1 mark), and Taylor Wright in the 55m (7.30). It was history repeating itself as
each of those three girls locked down their respective events for the second consecutive MCPS meet.
Coach Youngblood says that Pessima was brand new to track last spring and her rapid improvement is an inspiration to teammates. Wright, on the other
hand, was feeling under the weather, even a little nauseous at times according to Youngblood, which is why she didn't run her best in the dash.
Sniffles, nausea, colds and flus became a common theme when gathering information from coaches. Paint Branch's Yasmine Kass was among the afflicted
according to Coach Dessalyn Dillard. Kass's 1600-800m double was a tall order and while she took first and second places, perhaps it won't be the
finest form we see her in this season. Kass held back for two laps of the 1600, apparently wanting no part of the lead. She took the lead on the
third lap and ran to victory by ten seconds in 5:22. Kass had clocked 5:11 in a DMR earlier this year according to Coach Dillard.
In the open 800-meter, Kass exchanged leads with Blair's Morgan Casey for three laps while
Melissa Kameka of Damascus lurked in third place. On the fourth lap, Kameka moved around the two leaders and held them off with the strongest kick
It was Kameka's third victory of the day after winning the open 500-meter nearly wire-to-wire with a new county leading time of 01:20.46. Sister
Samantha Kameka was second in the heat and third overall in 1:21.80. Damascus also won the 4x400-meter relay (4:15.02) in the first event of the
day. Perhaps leading off the meet with a 4x4 was beneficial for the Kamekas who are running on a new level so far in their sophomore year, but Coach
Elrid Cason attributes the improvement to something more concrete: cross country training.
Cason says the difference so far for his middle distance girls is their strength which was developed this fall during cross country season. He
contrasted this with the previous year when his girls did no running in the fall. They are running well now on strength alone, and the speed will
come later, according to Cason.
Damascus was one of just a few teams that took full advantage of a meet that started with a
4x400-meter relay and it paid off for a handful of teams with new season bests. Blake High School was not one of those teams that fielded a 4x400-
meter relay, but boy did they make a statement in the open 300-meter dash. Noelani Phillips (42.01), Kenya Allison (42.75), and Tahira Bakare
(42.97) took three of the top four spots in the open 300-meter dash. Phillips, a newcomer to indoor track this season, took over the new MCPS lead
in the open 300m.