The Owings Mills Track Club's 1,600-meter 13-14 relay team was disappointed in its performance at the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics in Michigan last year.
Nyjari McNeil, Cameron Hinton and Jenae Dorsey were part of the group that finished 12th.
"They didn't make the finals," Owings Mills assistant coach Michael Ray said.
It was surprising since Dorsey, Gilbert and Hinton were on relay team that placed second in the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic Nationals at Morgan State University.
"They were disappointed after last year, so this year was a bounce-back year," Ray said.
McNeil, Dorsey, Gilbert and Hinton teamed up to take first place in the AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa in convincing fashion.
"They finished just a few seconds off the national record," Ray said. "And they beat everybody in the field by three and half seconds. I don't know if everybody else in the country was expecting them to win. They really worked hard and well together."
The Owings Mills Track Club probably had never done so well in a national meet since the organization saw 16 of its 30 competitors post top-eight finishes.
That left Ray and the rest of the club's coaching staff thrilled.
"If you measured us against other teams of our size, we really out performed most of the teams on a national level," Ray said. "And certainly locally when you talk about teams from Baltimore, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia. The kids really out did themselves in terms of their performances. A few kids performed beyond expectations."
Some of the members of the winning relay team shined in individual events.
McNeil (14 age division) placed third in the 800 and sixth in the 400, Gilbert (13) took third in both the high jump and 400 while Hinton (14) grabbed third in the 400.
Other top girls individual performances came from Sage Hinton (9, 3rd, 200, 4th, 100), Elise Cooper (8, 7th, 100), Ella Cooper (9, 6th, 200) and Madison Robinson (11, 6th, high jump).
The 9-10 400 relay team Cooper, Sage Hinton, Adrianna Thomas and Shanise Staats was fourth while the 8-and-under group of Jalaia Creary, Shania Staats, Elena Cooper and Elise Cooper placed sixth in the 400.
Donovan Young (10, 2nd, high jump), Ty Trinh (13, 4th, triple jump) and Aaron Ray (12, 6th, long jump) had the team's best individual boys performances for Owings Mills.
"We get a little more successful each year," Owings Mills Track Club head coach Vince Rollo said. "They say in track you have to have the four D's to be successful: desire, dedication, determination and durability. This group in particular is very dedicated. They dealt with their minor injuries, but they were pretty fortunate and worked through them. They did really well and its because of their dedication."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun