The Owings Mills Track Club has never had it so good. A record 18 of its competitors advanced to the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic Nationals at Morgan State University on July 29, by far the most athletes Owings Mills has sent to the event in the last 11 years.
"When it comes right down to it, I have an exceptional group," Owings Mills Track Club coach Vince Rollo said. "I had three or four athletes go in the past (in one year). But this has been a special year."
Qualifying for the national meet is an accomplishment in itself, considering participants have to post top-five finishes in individual events at the Potomac Valley Association championships to make the cut.
"This is the hardest meet to qualify for in the country," Rollo said.
Maybe the most impressive segment of the team's success has been the 1,600-meter 11-12 relay team of Jenae Dorsey, Gabby Halaby, Camerson Hinton and Sydney Glibert.
The group ran a blazing 4:07.89 to finish second overall behind a team from Virginia.
"It's incredibly hard to win a medal in this event, but I knew they had the ability to be exceptional." Rollo said. "It's very hard for a team to come up with four girls that fast. High school is one thing, but to find four 11-and-12-year-old girls that can run like that is unusual."
Rollo said the chemistry between the four was the difference.
"They do everything together," the coach explained. "And their parents take them out all the time together."
The four girls also had grueling workouts three days a week at New Town High School.
"She has come up with a sprint-training program," Rollo said of Owings Mills assistant coach Shirley Hinton. "They have the toughest workouts. They are very similar to high school workouts. It's been very effective in helping them."
Hinton and Gilbert also competed individually in the 400 at the national meet.
Each ran faster times this summer than former McDonogh School standout sprinter Autumn Franklin and Western Tech rising junior Rebecca Holt, who broke the Class 1A state record in the 400 in May.
"These two girls are the fastest 400 runners to come through my team in the past 11 years," Rollo said.
The 7-8 400 relay team, Sage Hinton, Chloe Gross, Ashley Thomas and Kayla White, also participated at the meet as well as individual performers Dasha Beaton (7-8, shot put), Trej Johnson (13-14, triple jump), Ebone Jones (13-14, high jump) and Hinton (100, 200).
Discus thrower Amanda Murphy was hampered by a shoulder injury in 13-14 age division and didn't finish as high as she had in other national track meets. She had medaled the previous three years at AAU national meets in New Orleans, Norfolk, Va. and Des Moines, Iowa.
Ty Trinh posted the highest finish, placing eighth in the long jump, for the boys at the national meet.
Donovan Young (7-8, 200), Molek Ewell (11-12, 100) and Terel Beuford (9, discus) and the 9-10 400 relay team of Yemi Windapo, Devin Mason and twins Aaron and Andrew Ray also participated for Owings Mills.
"Most of our 18 participants placed high," Shirley Hinton said. "That was special."