The sprinters have arrived in droves at the Catonsville High School track like the cicadas buzzing about at a lightning pace in the trees around it.
Coach Sandra Gallagher-Mohler knew she had some fleet-footed underclassmen at the school and they finally proved her confidence at the MPSSAA Class 4A North Section I Championships on June 8.
Sophomore Andre Wilson set a personal record in the 100 meters and won the event in 11:48.
His time of 23:45 in the 200 was slightly off his PR time of 23:14, but it was good enough for victory.
Wilson was also on the second-place 4X100 relay team with Anthony Okoye, Karon Pearson and Josiah Bumbray who finished second in 47.10.
In the 4X200 relay, Wilson joined Tariq Martin, Pearson and Bumbray on the second-place squad (1:37.96).
Wilson is in his first season at Catonsville after moving from South Carolina.
“He works so hard and honestly and I just told him this yesterday, he’s a game changer kid, not just because of his speed, but because he makes running fast the cool thing to do,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “Honestly, I’ve been coaching 18 years and this is by far my favorite track team and yes we have a lot of talent, but they are amazing kids and they work so hard and they are incredibly supportive of one another.
“They want to do well and Andre is a big piece of that. He’s got a fun personality and he just works, really, really hard.”
Junior Johnnie Hill fits in that same mold and it paid off at sectionals when he won the 400 meters with a PR of 50:51 and was on the runner-up 4X400 meters relay (3:43.23a) with Gabriel Rawson, Okoye and Jack Roseboom.
“He is amazing,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “Johnnie is an exciting talent. He really wants it and we are definitely gunning for an individual title championship there and he’s going to have to work for it, but it could happen.”
Hill was also second in the 200 meters (23:75).
Freshman Bumbray set a PR, finishing sixth in the 100 (12:05) and junior Rawson PR’d in the 400 (54:90), while taking fifth.
Roseboom, a senior, was fifth in the 800 (2:15) and junior Edward Parker was fifth in the 1600 (5:24.59).
Roseboom was second in the 3200 (10:25.49) and junior Zachary Sanders was fourth (12:00.03). The senior plans to run at York College next year.
“He’s been a talent since the day he showed up as a freshman,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “He has shown great leadership and he really puts in the time. COVID was hard on everybody and him included, but he really just puts in the work, he is very dedicated to his craft.”
The Comets also got some fine performances in the field events.
Martin was third in high jump (5-feet, 8 inches) and Hill was fourth (5-2).
Okoye set a PR in the long jump (17-11) while placing fifth and Rawson triple-jumped a PR and took sixth (17-4).
“That is such a big piece of this puzzle,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “We have people in each discipline who really care about their progress and that really sets the stage for a pretty amazing team.”
Girls can sprint as well
Junior Myla Abernathy took center stage for the Catonsville girls at the sectional championship meet.
She won the 400 (1:01.31) and 800 (2:28.83) and joined Hallie Shepard, Camryn Woods and Kelsey King on the winning 4X400 relay team (4:42.28).
Abernathy recovered from a severe concussion while cheerleading as a freshman and assorted other injuries to be the girl’s top sprinter.
“It really took a long time and dedication to work out, but she is a prime example of be patient with the process and you will see progress because she really has put it all in,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “She’s a great leader, an amazing kid. We are definitely looking for some great college places for her.”
The 4X200 relay quartet of Woods, Favour Oyede Umoh, King and Kathryn Lane was third (2:03.71) and King, Nina Darden, Lane and Woods was fourth (58.08) in the 4X100 relay.
Sophomore Shepard ran a PR and took second in the 3200 (12:32.54) and freshman Isabela Bianco was third (14:07.27).
Although her team only has around 30 athletes, Gallagher-Mohler knows they are the ones that want to be there and work hard every day.
“COVID weeded out anyone that was looking for a way out because nobody was going to overly pressure you to get people to come out,” she said. “Having everybody who wanted to be there just makes a tremendous amount of difference in their training.”
Next up for the Comets are the Class 4A North Region championships at Paint Branch High on June 12.
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The state championship meet is scheduled for Friday, June 18 and Saturday, June 19 at the Prince Georges Sports and Learning Complex.