Carroll County Times
Carroll County High School Sports

Manchester Valley boys indoor track finishes 4th in Class 3A at MPSSAA championships; Aiden Neal champion in the 1,600

There was one undeniable takeaway from the MPSSAA Class 3A indoor track and field championships: Members of the Manchester Valley boys team left everything they had on the floor of the Baltimore Armory on Thursday in pursuit of both personal accolades and team success.

Manchester Valley took home a nice collection of medals, including a gold from Aiden Neal in the 1,600 meters. However, a couple great efforts fell just fractions of a second short of more gold, and the Mavericks came in fourth as a team.


Huntingtown, powered by finishing first, second and fifth in the shot put, won the boys state title with 48.5 points. Baltimore’s Poly and Mervo tied for second with 37. Manchester Valley was a half-point behind in fourth.

Nathan Kreit of Manchester Valley attempts to clear the bar in thepole vault during the MPSSAA 3A indoor track and field championships at the Baltimore Armory on Thursday.

Neal foreshadowed what was to come after winning the 1,600.


“Our team is the best it’s been probably ever. All my teammates are awesome, they’re super talented,” Neal said. “I want to do as much as I can to get us a good finish.”

In the 800, Neal lined up next to Milford Mill’s Korede Otusajo, ranked as the fastest in Maryland by and already a state champion in the 500.

Otusajo had a big lead most of the race, but Neal closed the gap rapidly, lunging to the finish and crashing to the Armory floor. Otusajo held on, beating Neal by only eight-hundredths of a second.

“I tried to past him with two or three laps, he accelerated a bit,” Neal said. “He’s a great racer, a great athlete. I really wanted it but he was the better racer today.”

Manchester Valley’s Carter Knox was right behind the leaders, taking third place. The Mavericks’ 2-3 finish had them temporarily ahead in the team standings before the shot put and high jump — where Mervo took first and second — were factored in.

Knox later took a page from Neal while anchoring the 4x400 relay. The Mavericks were racing next to Poly, and the Engineers took an early lead. But Knox rallied in his anchor leg and had his own lunge and crash to the floor, putting in the effort to try to get his team just a little bit closer.

Manchester Valley finished fourteen-hundredths of a second behind Poly and third overall. South Hagerstown won the race out of a previous heat.

“We had to win to get toward the team title. It was close,” Knox said.

Competing in the 300 at the MPSSAA 3A indoor track and field championships are, from left, Manchester Valley's Carter Knox, Woodlawn's Terrell Williams, Atholton's Darian Tarver Jr. and Poly's Talil Atkins.

Knox finished the day placing in three events. In addition to third-place finishes in the 800 and 4x400, he was sixth in the 300.

“Overall, I think it was pretty solid,” he said. “Not exactly what I wanted getting sixth in the 300, but I’m pretty satisfied with it.”

In Neal’s first event, there were very little drama, especially considering the endings of the two later races. Neal blistered the track, taking first by more than eight seconds.

“I knew I had a lot of good competition, there’s always good competition,” he said. “Everyone here deserves to be here. You can’t think twice today. You gotta go, try to win, try to win, try to win every event.”

Manchester Valley also picked up team points from Nathan Kreit, who finished fifth in the pole vault.

Westminster's Charlotte Houle clears the bar in the high jump event during the MPSSAA Class 3A indoor track and field championships at the Baltimore Armory on Thursday.

Westminster girls get second, third in the pole vault

Both Sarah Gassman and Ryehn Byrnes of Westminster girls track had tempered expectations when they arrived at the Armory to compete in the pole vault. High finishes weren’t on their minds, but as the event progressed, they reached new heights.


Gassman finished second clearing 10 feet, 6 inches. She nearly placed first, losing in a jump-off to Elisa Ramos of Governor Thomas Jefferson, who cleared 11 feet on her fourth try.

Four vaulters, including Gassman and Byrnes, cleared 10-6, but Gassman had no missed attempts throughout the event, allowing her to compete with Ramos in the jump-off.

“I honestly did not think I’d come in second,” Gassman said. “I had a rough start here at regionals and I was missing at every height. So I came here very nervous. And somehow I did not miss until I got to 11 [feet]. I was so happy I got 10-6 on the first try.”

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“I think it’s awesome for me at least, I’ve been really in my head lately,” Byrnes said. “My goal today was to not bail and go for everything. I think I did pretty well with that. And getting 10-6 was cool, too. Getting third was nice.”

Both agreed having the other around paid dividends.

“I’m glad my teammate came in third,” Gassman said. “We’ve competed together since we were 8 [years old]. This is really exciting to still be competing together.”


“Pole vault is a very unique sport,” Byrnes added. “I think a lot of people on their teams have to do it by themselves. So it’s really cool to have someone at the same height as me. We can understand what we’re going through so we can help each other through it.”

Charlotte Houle also finished sixth in the high jump for the Westminster girls.

On the Westminster boys side, Cameron Rucker took seventh in the 55 hurdles and Justin Condon was seventh in the high jump.

“I didn’t do as good as I wanted to, but I still made it to states,” Condon said. “I definitely learned a lot this year.”