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Spring Sports Preview: 3 things to watch for track & field in 2019

South Carroll's Grayson Fipps goes for an attempt in the girls pole vault competition during the final day of the Class 2A state championship meet at Morgan State University on May 26, 2018.
South Carroll's Grayson Fipps goes for an attempt in the girls pole vault competition during the final day of the Class 2A state championship meet at Morgan State University on May 26, 2018. (Brian Krista / Carroll County Times)

There are five more events in the spring, giving Carroll County’s track and field athletes additional opportunities to succeed.

Century’s boys and South Carroll’s girls squads are looking to defend their Carroll County Athletic League meet championships. Francis Scott Key’s boys added a Class 1A West regional crown to their resume last spring and a handful of first-team all-countians return to help their respective teams find success.

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Only five athletes from last spring’s boys first team are back — Century’s Zachary Fenton, Stephen Hurst, and Jalen Stanton, Liberty’s Daniel Saxon, and Manchester Valley’s Kacy Montgomery.

South Carroll returns seniors Grayson Fipps, Megan O’Neill and junior Brooke Flanigan from the all-county first team last spring. Century junior Chidinma Mba and Winters Mill sophomore Kathryn Hopkins are also back.

Here are three things to watch for track and field in 2019:

Carroll’s pole vaulters keep raising the bar

Pole vaulting has been a pinnacle of success for county’s athletes at the championship level in recent years.

Century had three vaulters capture outdoor state titles three seasons in a row — Chandler Kennell in 2014, Nick Neral in 2015 and Kyle Bryant in 2016. Liberty’s Zach Stump won the state title in 2017 and South Carroll’s Patrick Tunkel took second in 2018, good for Carroll’s best placement.

At last year’s 3A state meet, four Carroll athletes placed in the top five in pole vault. Westminster’s Danny Gillchrist cleared 13-6 for second, teammate Micah LoPiccolo came in third, and Manchester Valley’s Nick Jones and Westminster’s Joey Petrowicz tied for fourth at 12 feet.

Petrowicz, a senior, cleared 14-3 to capture the 2019 indoor track county title. An injury kept him from competing at the regional and state meets, but he’s back for the spring. Jones took third (12-0) at the 3A indoor state meet. He cleared the same height for fourth place at outdoor states in 2018.

Former South Carroll vaulter Summer Bingaman captured an indoor state title in 2016, the most recent Carroll girls athlete to accomplish the feat. Former Liberty vaulter Natalie Lansinger won the county and 2A West outdoor pole vault titles last spring, and Fipps cleared 10-2 to capture the 2A West pole vault title in indoor this winter.

Francis Scott Key senior Haley Sawyers capped off her senior indoor season with a 1A West pole vault regional title and finished second in the state.

Century’s Stanton still seeing success in two sports

Stanton, the reigning Times Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year, returns in his third season as a dual-sport athlete, balancing both lacrosse and track.

Last spring, Stanton won county and 2A West regional titles in the 200-meter dash, 110 hurdles and the high jump. He took second in each of those events at the 2A state meet as well.

The Knights repeated as county champions for a sixth straight season, finished as regional runner-up to Oakdale the following week and placed sixth at the state meet.

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Stanton tallied 20 goals and eight assists as a junior midfielder for Century’s varsity lacrosse team. He helped lead the Knights to a 5-1 county record, and was awarded second-team all-county honors.

Stanton enters the spring after capturing four individual state titles at the 2A indoor track state meet on Feb. 18, earning him Times Indoor Track Athlete of the Year for a second season.

“Being his third year at this, he’s worked out all the kinks and he knows what he needs to get done,” Knights coach Dyron Johnson said. “He knows how to balance his time between lacrosse and track. Jalen is going to give both of us the best he has each time so it makes things pretty simple for us and he’s just going to come out and be the athlete he is.”

FSK boys out to defend regional title

Francis Scott Key crowned three regional champions in five events at last year’s 1A West meet to capture the regional title with 112 points, edging Boonsboro by 1.5 points. The Warriors won the 1A indoor state title that winter and were the 2017 outdoor state champions in 2017.

Fru Bayelle captured regional titles in the 400 and triple jump, Austin Dykes won the 110 and 300 hurdles and Nate Imes won the 200 and ran a leg on the Eagles’ 4x100 relay that took first in the region as well. This trio graduated last year, but the Eagles return with a variety of athletes eager to content for similar success.

Eagles coach Juan Cortez said via email the boys team has smaller numbers than in year’s past this spring, but the team’s strength should be in sprints and mid-distance.

Senior Jacksun Layne should command in the field after coming off a successful indoor season with a fourth place finish in pole vault at the 1A West and state meets. Senior Lorenzo Palumbo should lead the Eagles in sprints.

Manchester Valley's Kacy Montgomery, second from left, trails the leaders as he nears the finish of the boys 400-meter dash during the final day of the Class 3A state championship meet at Morgan State University on May 26, 2018.
Manchester Valley's Kacy Montgomery, second from left, trails the leaders as he nears the finish of the boys 400-meter dash during the final day of the Class 3A state championship meet at Morgan State University on May 26, 2018. (Brian Krista / Carroll County Times)
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