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Harford County’s Caitlyn Bobb, Khalif Charlton miss chance to repeat on state track and field stage

Harford Tech's Caitlyn Bobb cruises around the turn of the track, running in the 2A girls 200 meter preliminary race in 2019. Bobb went on to win the state title and three others during the state track meet at Morgan State University.
Harford Tech's Caitlyn Bobb cruises around the turn of the track, running in the 2A girls 200 meter preliminary race in 2019. Bobb went on to win the state title and three others during the state track meet at Morgan State University. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

It was basically a year ago when a pair of Harford County sophomores captured gold at the annual Maryland State Track and Field Championships.

Harford Tech’s Caitlyn Bobb won four state titles on the track, while Havre de Grace’s Khalif Charlton won in the field.

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Both student-athletes were primed to repeat this year as juniors, which could and would have happened over the weekend, if not for the closure of schools related to coronavirus pandemic.

The athletes were disappointed, but both have an eye and hope for next year, the senior year, for each.

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It was a quadruple and three-peat chance for Bobb, the Harford Tech star. Bobb, competing in Class 2A, won the 200 and 400 dashes in both her freshman and sophomore years, as well as teaming with others to win in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays.

The 2019 times in the 200 (24.64), 400 (54.02) and the 4x200 relay (1:41.36) were fastest among all four classifications.

“The feeling is, what is the feeling?,” Bobb said. “When I cross the finish line, because I know that all the work that I’ve prepared and put into the race and all the effort that I had, it paid off when I crossed the finish line and I’m looking at the big screen and seeing my time.”

Bobb, who stands 5′-2″, has also won other state titles in indoor track and says despite the wins, there’s some disappointment if the targeted time is not met. “It’s a joy, but also some self critique in there,” Bobb said.

As for winning as an individual as opposed to being a relay teammate, Bobb said, “when your by yourself, you only have to worry about you.” Bobb says whatever you put into your practice, that is your end result and you’ll see that with whatever your time is when you cross the finish line.

As for the relays, Bobb said, “you have four people and all four of those people have to have their heads screwed on correctly. It doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day that day, something tragic happened, you gotta kind to pull it all together. You’re not just running for you, you’re running for your team.”

As for this year, winning four titles again? “That was the goal,” Bobb said. “I was disappointed, because I couldn’t defend my titles and complete my races. I am appreciative of this time and I’m taking this time to better mentally and physically prepare myself for the upcoming Olympics. I wish I could have run the 400, broke my own record, broke some other records, but everything happens for a reason."

Bobb added, “I’m going to make to the best out of this, I’m not going to be all grumpy about it. Of course I’m sad, but I’m not going to be grumpy and oh my gosh, what a season. I’m going to make the best of it now, do what I can.”

Bobb says she is definitely staying in shape and has eye on volleyball in the fall and a hope for some part of an international track season later this summer.

Bobb runs for Bermuda internationally, a tie with mother Dawnette, a Bermuda citizen who competed in the 100 in the 1992 Olympics.

Havre de Grace's Khalif Charlton clears the bar en route to the Class 1A boys state high jump title at last year's state track meet at Morgan State University.
Havre de Grace's Khalif Charlton clears the bar en route to the Class 1A boys state high jump title at last year's state track meet at Morgan State University. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

As for Charlton, who is 6′-2″, a win in the Class 1A high jump, his first ever, wasn’t a total surprise, but he wasn’t expecting to win either.

“I think I was the favorite going in, but there were some seniors ahead of me that had jumped higher than me and were expected to jump higher than me again, so I didn’t go in expecting to win,” Charlton said, recalling last year’s win.

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“When I won, I cleared the jump (6′-2”) before somebody else. So we were both tied and then I got over the jump and I had to watch them jump and they didn’t make it," Charlton said. “As soon as he missed, I knew that I won, but it didn’t really hit me as winning yet. I guess because I had never won a state title before.”

Charlton remembers looking at coach Al Baker, who said “you won.” “I had friends in the stands and they were all cheering, but it really didn’t hit me until I went back to my seat and sat down,” Charlton said.

But like Bobb, Charlton’s opportunity to win again this year never happened. “Coming into this year, I’m obviously the favorite and since it’s my junior year, it’s one of the important years that colleges look at, so I really wanted to make a statement and win again,” he said.

Oddly enough, before winning the state title last year, Charlton failed to clear a jump in the UCBAC track and field championships. That gave him a little extra incentive for this year.

“I wanted to come back this year and win every single meet I went to,” Charlton said. “I really wanted to win and most of the people I competed against last year graduated, they were seniors. So, it was gonna be me versus probably some new people I’ve never seen before, so I was just really excited for the season.”

As for looking ahead, Charlton has goals. “This year I wanted to get above 6′-6”, he said. Charlton says Coach Baker’s career best jump was 6′-10″ and that’s the height he wants to match in his senior season. “I made a point to myself that I wanted to be one of the best jumpers in Maryland, not just the best jumper in 1A,” Charlton said. “I wanted to be the best, completely. That’s still the goal, I just want to get better and hopefully there’s a season.”

Charlton’s future also includes college, although that college is unknown at this time. Whatever college, he says he would like to keep jumping, while studying psychology or business.

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