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Boys Indoor Track Athlete of the Year: Century's Jalen Stanton was solid gold at annual state meet

Boys Indoor Track Athlete of the Year: Century's Jalen Stanton was solid gold at annual state meet
Century senior Jalen Stanton is the 2019 Carroll County Times Boys Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Jalen Stanton felt a bit more relaxed and settled in when the Knights went to the Class 2A state championship meet last month, and that’s certainly understandable.

After all, this was the third time the Century High School senior had made it to the states. He understood what it felt like to muddle through what can be a long day and stay settled. Stanton said he might not have been that way before.

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“One thing that always got me was nerves and looking at other competition and being overwhelmed, I guess,” Stanton said. “Being my third year at the states, I knew what I had to do. I knew how to prepare and how to warm up.”

Being more settled seemed to have paid off for Stanton — the Times Boys Indoor Track Athlete of the Year for a second consecutive winter — as he won four individual events for Century. He took first in the 55-meter dash (6.45 seconds), the 55 hurdles (7.54), the 300 dash (35.85), and the high jump (6 feet, 7 inches).

That gave the Knights 40 of their 77 points and helped them finish second, just four points behind Oakdale.

The state meet truly is a bit of a hodgepodge at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Center in Landover. Races will be run while a few field events are taking place on the field at the same time. Athletes who compete in both need to keep an eye on when it’s their time to be in the right place, and it certainly can be a daunting task.

But Stanton knew that this year and felt more confident in handling it.

“Just from being there before, just knowing how everything worked out, how everything goes, dealing with multiple events at the same time [helped],” Stanton said. “When I came in, I just wanted to do better than last year. I knew the only thing I could do was really go up.”

Truth be told, Stanton did not do that badly last year at the state meet. He won the high jump, again hitting 6-7, but took third in the 55, fourth in the 55 hurdles, and ran on Century’s eighth-place 4x200 relay.

Not a bad day’s work overall, but Stanton didn’t love it. He pointed at the state meet throughout this season with a goal being to do better there this time than last.

The senior adjusted warm-up and cool-down routines, moves that helped him throughout the season.

In addition, he came into last year’s state meet a bit banged up physically. This year, he was able to come in more fresh and ready to go — and Stanton wanted more.

“I have pretty high standards for myself,” he said. “Getting in the top three is good, but I want to win. If I don’t win, then I’m losing.”

Century's Jalen Stanton clears 6 feet, 7 inches to win the Class 2A high jump during the MPSSAA indoor track and field championships in Landover Monday, Feb 18, 2019
Century's Jalen Stanton clears 6 feet, 7 inches to win the Class 2A high jump during the MPSSAA indoor track and field championships in Landover Monday, Feb 18, 2019 (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Now, he’s focusing on a rather busy spring. Stanton once again will do both lacrosse and track. He will be doing lacrosse practice each day and track three times a week. Since lacrosse practice begins later than the track workouts, he can pull this off.

“It was tough last year and my sophomore year, but I think I’ve gotten used to how my body feels coming from track and going to lacrosse,” Stanton said. “Initially, I did it because I was not sure which of the two I would do in college. I knew I’d be in better shape for lacrosse if I was running at the same time.

Stanton is a midfielder and is going to keep doing that sport when heading to Lynn University, a Division II school in Boca Raton, Florida. He said he plans to also run track unattached while there.

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Now, though, he’s focusing on his final season of outdoor track with Century. He’s won one state title outdoors (a 4x100 relay two years ago) and, since he sets that bar high, wants to end his career on a big note.

In addition, Stanton has motivation similar to what he had indoors because last spring he finished second in the 110 hurdles, the 200 dash, and the high jump. That gives him motivation, which could be bad news for those competing against him.

“It still bothers me,” he said, with a laugh.

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