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Hereford's Cody cleared hurdles on way to the top

Whether he was sprinting and soaring over hurdles on the track or darting around defenders on the football field, Hereford High's Jamal Cody was on top of his game during his senior year.

The 2015 graduate capped his final season of outdoor track by winning state titles in the Class 2A championship meet in the 110 and 300-meter hurdles — for the second year in a row.

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That came after a fall football season when the feature running back led the team with 13 touchdowns.

His efforts in track and field and football earned him selection as the North County News male Athlete of the Year.

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Cody will join the track team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the fall, but Hereford High football coach Ric Evans thinks he could have excelled in collegiate football.

"There were lots of colleges that were seeking him," Evans said. "Every time I would get a visit from a college coach it was, 'Where is Jamal going to school? What is he doing?' "I had to give them that unfortunate, but fortunate news that he was going to be running track instead of playing football."

Cody was the Bulls' leading rusher with 752 yards on 69 attempts (10.9 yards per carry) and 10 rushing touchdowns.

He also caught eight passes for 156 yards while catching three for touchdowns in a 35-22 triumph over Overlea on Oct. 2.

Cody was a First Team All-County and First Team All-Division back and was selected to play in the Baltimore Touchdown Club and Baltimore County all-star games.

His yardage numbers could have been much higher, but Hereford had several other quality backs, including three who combined for 1,411 yards.

"If we just ran a traditional two-back set he probably would have had 2,000 yards," Evans said. "We spread the ball around."

Evans would have had no problem giving him the ball more.

"He's that dime a dozen kid," Evans said. 'You wish you had a dozen kids like him on your team."

Hereford's football season ended with a 27-21 overtime loss to Eastern Tech in the first round of the playoffs and it cost Cody his indoor track season.

"He actually got hurt in our overtime playoff game that's what slowed down in his recovery for indoor track season," Evans said. "He ended up doing great and winning two more state championships (outdoors). He's a great kid."

Cody's injury was a medial collateral ligament sprain in his knee and indoor track coach Brad Duvall decided to be cautious, so Cody didn't get a chance to defend his state title in the 55 hurdles, which he won as a junior in a time of 7.89.

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He followed that by winning 2014 outdoor state titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles with personal best times.

That was Cody's goal again this year at the outdoor state meet.

"We didn't run him indoors at all," Duvall said. "We just let him rest. We wanted to make sure he was 100 percent before we tested him in anything. We played that well."

Cody captured Baltimore County and Class 2A North Region titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles.

At regionals, he also ran second in the 400-meter run and was on the fourth-place 1,600-meter relay with Shawn Gmurek, Michael Class and Zach Lang.

His versatility in four events helped the Hereford boys win the regional title with 178 points.

While hurdles are his feature events, he takes pride in running the tough 400 meters.

"The 400 is a really tough race," Cody said. "I think it's probably the hardest race to run as a sprinter. It tests, not only your speed, but also that speed and endurance aspect."

At the 2015 state meet, held at Morgan State University, he faced another challenge.

"What no one knows at the state meet this year, he was sick as a dog," Duvall said. "He had a real bad head cold."

The coach didn't think it would bother him in the 110 hurdles and it didn't as he won in a personal best time of 14.58.

Cody had some doubts he could win the 300 hurdles, but Duvall gave him some valuable advice.

"I said, 'Go out easy and save your breathing for when it matters the most,'" Duvall said. "He was in fourth place at the turn and he just exploded down the home stretch to win. You can't replace that competitive instinct. When it matters most is when he can be at his best. That's why he runs his fastest times at the biggest events."

Cody's time of 37.93 was the fastest in any of the four classifications at the state meet and his fastest time ever in the event.

It also earned him his fifth state title at Hereford and qualified him in the 400 hurdles for the New Balance National Outdoor meet held in Greensboro, NC June 19-21.

He will only run the 110 hurdles in North Carolina because he hasn't trained for the longer race since graduation.

It is believed his five state championships are the most of any Hereford athlete.

"It's controversial here, but the coaching staff here thinks he's the best male athlete to come out of Hereford," Duvall said. "No one else has five state championships. Josh Asper has four (wrestling) and he was a heckuva athlete. He would probably be the only one I was put on the same plane. No one else has been that dominant."

Duvall is going to miss that dominance as well as Cody's personality next season.

"I don't know what we are going to do on the track team without him," he said. "Beyond his ability, he's just a great kid. He keeps his teammates in line and makes sure they are doing what they need to do."

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