Howard County Sports

Varsity Q&A: Atholton indoor track and field senior Darian Tarver Jr. making the most of final indoor season

Atholton indoor track and field senior Darian Tarver Jr. has thrived in some of his biggest races this season.

With states coming up next Wednesday, Tarver spoke with the Howard County Times to discuss his success and what he’s looking forward to most moving forward (Note: questions and answers have been edited for clarity):


What was your general mentality entering your final indoor season?

My general mentality this season was I have to come in first in everything I do, because I feel like last year I had pretty good seniors that were above me. So, in a lot of the meets both high school and in the summer, I finished second. I was happy about that but I knew that this was my year to really show what I can do and be the best in trying to win everything.


How much did your success at counties, winning the 500-meter and taking second in the 300, build confidence for you entering regionals?

It gave me a lot of confidence because I had one of my summer training partners, Aaron Abedin from Mt. Hebron was in both of my heats. We got to really push each other and it felt good to have some competition in the 300 again because at the beginning of the year I was seeded at a wrong time, so I didn’t have a lot of competition that I was running against in the beginning of the season.

How does the preparation differ for regionals running on a different surface at the Baltimore Armory?

Last year I had slipped in the 500 and I ended up not qualifying for states. I think I was wearing some different type of shoes. This year, I ended up getting these lightweight Nike shoes that have a waffle grip at the bottom. I just had to go into the meet with a race strategy to run to the outside of the curve rather than the inside, since the curves and turns are so narrow.

How much more gratifying was it to win the 500 at regionals after slipping during the event last year?

It felt amazing because I felt like I got my get-back from last year. I was able to really show people my talent without any other factors involved and I felt like it was a fair opportunity that people got to see me.


What do you enjoy most about competing on the 4x200 relay team?

I think it’s very fun because they’re my friends. My friend Brayden McCrea, it’s his first year running track. We got really close last year and I encouraged him to come out and now we’re on the 4x200 team together going to states. Cam [Lee] transferred from St. Vincent Pallotti last year and we had been DMing on Instagram trying to set up a 4x200 team. David [Irabor], I see a lot of myself in him. I had a mentor my sophomore year Jamel Mins, he was a senior. David’s a sophomore and I feel like his mentor, so I like running with him and I see a lot of potential in him.

What are the biggest points of emphasis for you in practice this week before states?

The biggest emphasis in practice is still to keep the workouts intense but less reps. Then the mentality that I’m going with into states is, it’s all or nothing right now because I’m still trying to work for a scholarship and I just want to be able to leave my senior year on a great note.

How much confidence do you have entering states, knowing it’s on the same track you ran on at counties?

It gives me 100% more confidence because I’m able to run in my real spikes again and I know the turns more at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex. It just gives me confidence that I’ve ran good times there and I can continue to keep running good times.


Do you have a prerace tradition before every meet?

I put on my Christian music playlist and I wear the same pants and hoodie every single meet. Then right before I get on the line I keep telling myself, ‘You’re the man’. Then I just go blank and go into the blocks and get ready to run.

How long have you had that prerace ritual?

I started doing that my sophomore year the first season I did track at nationals in Florida. I was psyched out and then my summer coach told me to just keep hyping yourself up. Ever since then I started doing that and I ended up winning three All-Americans at that meet, ever since then I’ve always done that and it’s always served me right.

Is there a particular song on the playlist that stands out most in your mind?

It’s the entire playlist, but the one song that really amps me up is “Headlines” by Drake and also “Murder Business” by NBA Youngboy.


What has been your favorite track and field memory during your career?

My favorite memory was probably my first year when we went to states for our 4x100 relay and 4x200 team. We ended up getting first place for our 4x100 team and it was our second time running the 4x200 there. We ended up getting third place there, so that was a pretty cool experience my first year running and be able to win two state medals.

What has been your favorite indoor track memory during your career?

My favorite indoor memory probably would have to be this year’s regionals because last year we didn’t really have much of an indoor season because the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex was closed and then we went straight into championship season. This year was first my traditional year running indoor because I didn’t start track until my sophomore season after COVID.

What are your favorite things to do when you’re not on the track or at practice?

I just like to hang out with my friends. I always like to go shopping, we go to Target and mess around, go out to eat and everything like that.


If you had your choice to pick any food in the world that’s your favorite what is it and why?

I would pick cheesecake because I’ve always loved it from a young age. It’s just so sweet and perfect.

Who are the funniest people on the team?

I feel like the two funniest people on the team are Cameron Lee and David Irabor. Cam is very funny because he’s really sarcastic, so you can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. David is very funny to me because he reminds me a lot of myself, I think he’s like my twin.