Jalen Stanton had just about every spectator’s eyes on him from the center of the track at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Center on Feb. 19.
The Century junior had already captured the Class 2A high jump state title, clearing 6 feet, 5 inches on his first try. However, he wanted to jump higher.
Stanton cleared 6-7 on his second attempt, good for a personal record, and was met with cheers of support from those in the stands.
“Coming into today, I hadn’t touched nearly 6-6, which was my PR, so I was nervous,” Stanton said. “I liked the change of venue from Hagerstown and I jumped 6-6 here. Coming in, I expected to get something around that but didn’t know I would get 6-7. It was the best, we got the clap going and the feeling was unreal. I’ve dreamed of winning a state championship and I finally got one, it feels great.”
Stanton dropped his last hurdle en route to a fourth-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles earlier in the day, an event he said has been tough for him this season. After his high jump victory, he placed third in the 55 dash.
Knights coach Dyron Johnson said Stanton is a leader for the team on and off the track and his leadership directly correlates to the team’s success.
“Jalen from the beginning of the meet is nonstop competing,” Johnson said. “He goes from event to event … never gets a break. An emotional roller coaster, sure, because he never gets a chance to reflect because it’s onto the next race or jump, but he focuses immediately on the task at hand.”
Century pulled out another close team victory to repeat as 2A state champions with 50 points, edging runner-up Middletown by one. Middletown edged Oakdale by one point for second place.
Liberty senior Zach Stump, the county’s pole vault champion, cleared 13 feet to take third in the 2A pole vault. Francis Scott Key’s Jered Holland, the 1A West pole vault winner, cleared 10-6, good for second in the 1A state final.
Brooks Chaney, a Liberty senior, raced to fourth in the 2A 500 dash. The Lions finished 12th out of 25 teams.
The distance races gave plenty of Carroll athletes a chance to score points. Century junior Zachary Fenton placed fifth in the 1,600 and fourth in the 3,200 as Carroll’s top finisher. Liberty’s Daniel Saxon and Woodrow Kashima finished directly after Fenton in the 1,600, and Jacob Spera, Fenton’s teammate, took sixth in the 3,200.
“Today was a fight all the way to the end, as we expected,” Johnson said. “Our kids fought hard. A couple places we could’ve done better, but I am proud of what they accomplished and the incredible competition today. They battle for each other day in and day out, it’s nice to see it pay off.”