A new challenge is presented with the arrival of every track season, the question of which team can amass the most points to earn a spot for success.
Century’s boys squad is quite familiar with success and the Knights have carried home a trophy or two — or three — for the past eight seasons. The Knights won their eighth consecutive Carroll County Athletic League championship last winter, third straight Class 2A West regional title, and second straight 2A state championship.
The Knights are consistently defending a title and they continue to find ways to come out on top as each season progresses.
“It speaks to their commitment, their work ethic and determination to be better every day,” Knights coach Dyron Johnson said. “They never overlook other teams. The success each year comes from that year’s team and the success is never given every year.”
Jalen Stanton, last season’s Times Indoor Track Athlete of the Year returns for his senior season after capping off a junior campaign that resulted in two individual county titles in the 55-meter dash and 55 hurdles, regional titles in the 55 hurdles and high jump and a state title in the high jump.
Johnson said he expects Stanton to perform at his highest ability in order to become the best athlete he can for the Knights.
Joining in Stanton’s return from last season’s all-county first team are fellow Knights Zachary Fenton and Jordan Schemm. Fenton won the 1,600 run at the county meet and the 3,200 at the regional meet while Schemm contributed to the Knights’ relay squads.
Also returning from the all-county team are Manchester Valley senior Evan Bare (field), Liberty senior Daniel Saxon (distance) and South Carroll junior Patrick Tunkel (field). Bare won shot put titles at the county and 3A West meets and was one of the Mavericks’ six state qualifiers at the state meet.
Saxon, the two-time Times Cross Country Runner of the Year, won the 3,200 county title and helped the Lions take second at the county meet. Tunkel made strides in pole vault for the Cavaliers last winter, finishing second at the 2A West meet and fourth at states.
Johnson anticipates a mix of talent between the Knights’ boys and girls squads with a lot of the teams’ strengths falling within distance and mid-distance this season.
“There’s not just one spot,” Johnson said. “A lot of people are stepping up in different places with such large numbers.”
South Carroll’s girls have won the last two indoor county championships and a program-first regional title as well. The Cavaliers return a handful of all-countians from the winter, including Sydney Ashley (mid-distance), Grace Fipps (field), Brooke Flanigan (hurdles), Megan O’Neill (mid-distance) and Lexi Winkler (sprints).
The Cavs will have to adjust without Jamie Anderson and Allie Zolkiewicz, the three-time Times Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, but have plenty of threats that can compile points across multiple events.
Francis Scott Key has two first-team performers back in sophomore Elizabeth Mahoney and senior Emma Taggart. Mahoney won the county and 1A West regional shot put individual titles and Taggart was second in the high jump at the 1A West meet.
Westminster senior Erin McGrath is the reigning 3A West regional 1,600 champion and should contribute heavily within the Owls’ distance corps this season.