Howard County athletes won six medals on Day 1 of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association track and field championships.
The six Howard County schools in Class 2A competed on Thursday at Morgan State University’s Hughes Stadium, with River Hill taking home five of the six medals.
The River Hill girls squad is in second with 22 points behind Hereford (29) after Day 1, while the boys squad is in eighth.
“The talk coming into today was that we wanted to be perfect in our execution and make sure we were in the right positions,” said River Hill coach John Isberg. “We didn’t want to shy away. We took away the place expectations, and we focused on executing.”
Faith Meininger led the Hawks with two medals. She finished second in the two mile and was the last leg of River Hill’s third-place finishing 4x800-meter relay team.
“It’s fun watching Faith,” Isberg said. “She brings the whole team together. Everyone gets excited, because she has a spirit that doesn’t quit. She’s technically savvy and she showed that in the 4x800, and she’s got enough heart to come back in the (3,200-meter run) and battle her guts out. Having that combo is what makes her a special athlete.”
Joining Meininger on the 4x800-meter relay team was Kennedy Clark, Raaya Khleif and Katherine Kitzinger. The group, which owned the top seed time, ran a personal best 9:47.
“They are all incredible people,” Meininger said. “We hang out outside of practice. It’s nice to have that bond. We aren’t just running for ourselves. We’re running for each other.”
The River Hill boys 4x800-relay team then copied the girls squad and took home a bronze medal. Darren McGowan, Anish Nanjappa, Evan Ying and Chase McGeehan finished in 8:00. McGeehan came from behind to pass a Harford Tech runner to place third.
“What was hard was I started out behind them all, so I wasted a lot of energy in the beginning catching up,” McGeehan said. “I think at the end it was just wanting it more. I think I was able to bring that extra kick out of myself.”
Two hours later, Nanjappa then finished third in the two mile, crossing the line in 9:32. He said running two races in one day isn’t as difficult as most people think.
“I just had to keep hydrating and eat a snack to get my energy up (between races),” Nanjappa said. “It’s all mental.”
The Hawks’ last medal of the day came from their girls 4x200-meter relay team. Clark, Sydney Robinson, Janasia Buckner and Araoluwa Omitowoju finished in 1:42 behind Harford Tech.
“I think the one thing that has been really impressive about this team is that they’re young,” Isberg said. “We have two freshman on there. Their demeanor is what I’ve really enjoyed to see. They’re not afraid to back away from any challenge.”
The only non-River Hill medalist from Day 1 was Wilde Lake’s Jim Nwalal, who finished second in the high jump. He finished second behind Century’s Jalen Stanton. Nwalal’s best jump was 6 feet, 4 inches.
Thursday’s action also featured the preliminaries for the boys and girls 100, 200 and 110/100 hurdles.
Hammond’s Loick Amouzou qualified for the boys 110 hurdles, while Damon Brockenberry qualified in the boys 100 and 200. For River Hill, Robinson will compete in the finals in the girls 100 and 200 on Saturday, while Buckner qualified for the girls 100. Oakland Mills’ Rafi Carson qualified for the boys 200, and Bernardette Molokwu qualified for the girls 200.
Class 3A and 4A kick off tomorrow at Morgan State at 4 p.m. All four classifications finish competition starting Saturday at 11 a.m.
2. River Hill, 22
T-15. Oakland Mills, 3
T-15. Glenelg, 3
7. Wilde Lake, 15 points
8. River Hill, 12
13. Oakland Mills, 7.5
T-21. Hammond, 1
T-21. Glenelg, 1
Isaiah Rucker, Oakland Mills, 110 hurdles
Baidy Ba, Oakland Mills, 3,200,
Joshua Galindo, River Hill, 3,200
William Tripp, Wilde Lake, 3,200
Matt Leavitt, Everett Stimler, Matthew Finnan, Graham Dilworth, Glenelg, 4x800
Baidy Ba, Frederick Eiland II, Andrew Bray, Alex Kohn, Oakland Mills, 4x800
Josh Dixon, Javier Relf, Jahiem Turner, Sean Howard, Oakland Mills, 4x200
Thomas McCoy, Wilde Lake, pole vault
Andrew Horrocks, River Hill, pole vault
Justin Martin, Hammond, pole vault
Noah Jackson, Hammond, shot put
Amir Macktoon, Wilde Lake, long jump
Deon Breland, Oakland Mills, long jump
Collins Tadjou, Wilde Lake, long jump
Alex Kohn, Oakland Mills, high jump
Oluwaseun Sule, Oakland Mills, 100, triple jump
Ada Beams, River Hill, 100 hurdles
Miranda Mazzella, River Hill, 100 hurdles
Araoluwa Omitowoju, River Hill, 200
Katherine Kitzinger, River Hill, 3,200
Kaila Spence, April Smith, Hope Wilmeth, Katie Melesko, Glenelg, 4x800
Katherine Taylor, Ambrie Kagel, Megan Boyce, Tess Dandridge, Marriotts Ridge, 4x800
Bernardette Molokwu, Jade Bangoura, Arianna Marshall, Alana Oppermann, Oakland Mills, 4x200
Natasha Easley, River Hill, triple jump