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Howard County Sports Notebook: Ellicott City Kenya Connect 5K going virtual; Former local standouts earn All-Conference honors

The Kenya Connect staff in Wamunyu, Kenya pose for a photo together to help promote the upcoming 5K virtual race taking place on March 28.
The Kenya Connect staff in Wamunyu, Kenya pose for a photo together to help promote the upcoming 5K virtual race taking place on March 28. (Submitted photo)

Precautions in relation to the spread of the coronavirus are keeping the annual Kenya Connect 5K from having a race in the typical sense this weekend, but thanks to a little creativity the local organization has changed course in hopes to continue raising money for a good cause.

On Saturday, March 28 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. registrants will participate in a virtual race, where they can run or walk outside or indoors on a treadmill and then send in their 5K time. All of the funds raised from the race supports Kenya Connect’s work to strengthen education at 58 schools in rural Kenya.

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Participants are being encouraged to send in photos of themselves during their run or after they finish, as submissions will be posted on the Kenya Connect Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Then, based on the submitted times, the top three runners/walkers in all age categories will receive prizes.

“A couple weeks ago, as we saw where things were headed and that a traditional race was no longer going to be feasible, the idea of a virtual race was suggested by one of our board members Dorothy Sheppard. It’s kind of taken off from there,” said Kenya Connect Executive Director Sharon Runge. “The exciting thing has been seeing how our sponsors have hung in with us and are still supporting the cause.”

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In its sixth year overall, the Kenya Connect 5K was scheduled to be held in Ellicott City for the third straight year. The race typically begins at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City and then continues through the Dunloggin neighborhood.

Kenya Connect has staff located in Wamunyu, Kenya that will participate in the virtual race as well on Saturday.

Howard CC duo Eaton, Smelkinson earn accolades

Howard Community College freshman Daeshawn Eaton averaged 14.2 points a game on the way to being named a first team Maryland Juco All-Conference selection this winter.
Howard Community College freshman Daeshawn Eaton averaged 14.2 points a game on the way to being named a first team Maryland Juco All-Conference selection this winter. (photo courtesy of Cambria Winkel)

After a season where Howard CC men’s basketball finished 25-6 and won the Region 20 Division II tournament, members of the program have been rewarded with a number of awards.

Freshman Daeshawn Eaton, an Oakland Mills High grad and the 2018-19 Howard County boys basketball Player of the Year, capped off his inaugural season with the Dragons by being named to the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference first team. He is the only freshman to make first or second team this winter.

Eaton finished with a team-best average of 14.2 points a game, while also finishing second in the conference in steals (67) and 10th in assists (112). He started all 31 games on the year and registered season highs of 29 points and 10 assists in a victory over Cecil College at the end of February.

Coach Mike Smelkinson, a Long Reach High grad who returned to lead the Howard CC program this winter after a handful of years at Harford CC, also earned top recognition as the Bob Kirk Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year. The award is voted on by the head coaches of the Maryland Juco Conference.

It is the first time Smelkinson has won the award in his eight-year head coaching career at the Juco level. Under his guidance, the Dragons went from 4-22 last winter to the 25-6 mark this season.

Kraisser brothers shine for Campbell wrestling

Jason Kraisser, seen after winning the 2019 Howard County Wrestler of the Year award while at Centennial High School last winter, was named to the 2020 Southern Conference All-Freshman team earlier this month.
Jason Kraisser, seen after winning the 2019 Howard County Wrestler of the Year award while at Centennial High School last winter, was named to the 2020 Southern Conference All-Freshman team earlier this month. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

On the heels of a stellar high school career at Centennial High, three-time Howard County wrestler of the Year Jason Kraisser didn’t slow down this winter as a freshman at Campbell University.  Wrestling at 149 pounds, he earned himself a spot on the 2019-20 Southern Conference All-Freshman team.

He worked his way into the lineup by mid-January and ended up going 22-10 overall with a 9-2 dual record. Jason finished with 11 total pins and won nine of his final 11 matches. He ranks among the top 10 in Division I, regardless of weight class, in pins.

At the SoCon Conference Wrestling Championship, he and his older brother Austin (redshirt junior) helped the Camels to the program’s second straight title. Austin earned the SoCon Pinnacle Award, given to the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team.

Austin, wrestling between the 165 and 174 weight classes, finished the year 27-8 overall with a 7-1 dual record and six pins.

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