A long-awaited chance for the counties best track and field performers to square off against one another has arrived.
The indoor track county championships were canceled altogether for the first time due to inclement weather and now with Monday and Tuesday's meet coming up, athletes and coaches are excited for the chance to compete and see who stacks up.
"We are always ready for a good fight," said Reservoir coach Phil Rogers. "Howard County has some of the best athletes, best coaches and best teams. When we compete against each other it's some of the best duking it out. It will be a good show."
Howard is looking for its fourth consecutive county title and enters Monday as favorites to come out on top this year as well.
Bayli Smith is coming off an indoor state championship in shot put and is primed to excel at counties in both shot put and discus. Teanna Jules (100, 200, 4x200 and 4x400-meter relays), Courtney Mann (3,200, 1,600, 800 and 4x800-meter relay) and Adeola Abdulkadir (long jump, triple jump and high jump) are all among the top performers in their respective events as well.
"Winning anything in Hoco is a big deal — talented county with excellent coaching," said Lions coach Tyler Wade. "Our success comes from our depth. We are projected to score in all but one of the 18 events on Monday and Tuesday. The team has worked hard all year and knew coming into the season they had a target on their back and they have accepted the challenge and are geared up to defend their title."
On the boy's side, Howard has won all four tri-meets this season, placing first at the Duckworth Relays and earning top five finishes at the Viking Invite, Pikesville Invite and Gator Invite.
Robert Agbai (100-meter dash, 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays), Erik Jenks (800, 400-meters, 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays), Theo Braimoh (high jump, triple jump and long jump), Ademola Abdulkadir (triple jump), Joey Lapointe (1,600, 800 and 4x800-meter relay) and Nick Deamer (3,200-meter race) highlight Howard's top performers.
Mt. Hebron's Justin Johnson is favored in the 400-meter race, while also primed to medal in the 800-meters. The Vikings are stacked in the pole vault, as Dillon Cutaiar, Matt Wingate and Michael Lutchenkov rank second, third and sixth, respectively.
The Mt. Hebron boys relay teams — 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 — have done well all season, scoring points at most of their individual meets, while the girls 4x400 relay team has a good shot for a county title.
Jaiden Ritter (100, 200 and 400-meter dashes) and Danielle Pitts (discuss) are two top performers for Mt. Hebron on the girl's side, as Ritter is becoming a breakout star in her freshman season, while Pitts won the discus elite division at the Viking Invitational earlier this spring.
River Hill is coming off an excellent winter and has had a strong outdoor season thus far. Some key performers for the Hawks to look out for are Sydney Robinson (100, 200, 400-meter dashes and long jump), Sophie Caplan — coming off 3A state title in pole vault — Jasmine Tiamfook (1,600 and 800-meter races), Kemi Moore (discuss), Trent Roser (3,200 and 1,600), Rahul Reddy (3,200, 1,600 and 800-meter races), Kevin Fitzgerald (1,600 and 800-meter races) and Larry Qiu (100, 200-meter dashes and relays).
The Gators are coming off a successful indoor season as well and bring back most of their top athletes to the spring. Sophomore Kai Muniz (100, 200-meters, triple jump and 4x100-meter relay) and senior Kelvyn Sosoo (3,200, 1,600, 800 and 4x800-meter relay) both showed well at states in February and have continued their solid year in outdoor as well.
"(Sosoo) is running great and jumping as good as he ever has," Rodgers said. "(Muniz) has run great and we hope his PR streak continues. He broke 10 for the first time just last weekend and is hoping go sub 9:45 this season."
Junior DeShon Anderson (400-meters, long jump, 4x100-meter relays, 4x400-meter relays) and senior Yash Kommula (triple and long jump) have also stood out for Reservoir and have performed well this season.
"(Anderson) is a first-year runner that has made a tremendous impact on the team. He is jumping phenomenally and his 400s show continuous improvement. I'm excited for his future," Rogers said. "After a season of injuries (Kommula) seems to be healthy. He is ready for the meet and we're excited."
Toni Jennings (100-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash, 4x100 and 4x200-meter relay) has been running great and the Gators look to the senior for leadership. Kayla Pindell (300-meter hurdles, long jump, 4x200 and 4x400-meter relays) is new to hurdles and long jump but has steadily improved this season. Julianne Knoblett (400, 800-meters, 4x800 and 4x400-meter relays) has shown tons of talent and has gotten stronger in every race. The senior just broke a 12-year school record in the 400-meter dash.
Freshman Annabel Cortez (3,200, 1,600, 800-meters) is surging as of late and getting better every time on the time. She won't be running in the 4x800-meter relays on Monday, so she'll be fresh and ready for the 3,200-meter run.
Jeremy Falwell, Asha Washington and Krystal Wood are three big sprinters for Atholton who also showed well during states this past February.
Falwell is the Raiders best all around sprinter on the boy's side, running in the 200-and 400-meter dashes.
"Jeremy is an essential part of all of our sprints (and) relays," said Atholton coach Chris Clark. "He is a senior and has had the most consistent year of his career. Don't be surprised if he beats some people that are ranked ahead of him next week."
Wood is a veteran who has been plagued by injuries throughout her varsity career, but the junior has remained healthy this season and is primed for a good showing in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes.
"She has been working out really well this last month and will to move up a couple places in each of those events," Clark said. "She also anchors our 4x100 and 4x200-meter (relays). She and Asha give the other girls a lot of confidence on our relays and that makes a big difference."
Although Washington is just a sophomore, she is a leader for the Raiders. She is a top performer in the 100-meter dash and long jump, while also running in both the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays.
"Asha is one of the most talented and coachable athletes I have worked with her at Atholton," Clark said. "When I took over the girls' sprinting program this year, I knew we would be in good shape with her as a leader."
James Wassell and Dae'trell Gordon are set to have a good outing as well. Wassell won a regional championship in pole vault this past winter in indoor, while Gordon is looking for a top finish in shot put and medal in discuss.
"(Gordon) always rises to the competition and thrives in these types of situations," Clark added. "(Wassell) will be looking to add another six inches to a foot to his pole vault PR and build momentum going into Regionals."
Miles Mowbray, Scott Boettinger and Jared Allen are three of the top athletes for Glenelg. Mowbray is a top sprinter in the 200-meter dash, Boettinger is looking to drop some time and contend for a county title in the 300-meter dash, while Allen is primed to medal in the 300-meter dash and will be a top contender in the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
All three athletes are a part of the Gladiators 4x400-meter relay and 4x200-meter relay teams. Both relay teams are expected to show well on Monday.
"Our relays are going to make a strong appearance at counties," said Glenelg coach Lindsey Metzler. "Without the county indoor meet they have been putting a lot of their energy into this meet ever since."
Under new head coach Cliff Timpson, Hammond has had a successful spring season and hopes to take its momentum into the county championships. Shannon Starke, Destiny Lyday Moiyatu Roberts and Makia Cobbs are apart of the Golden Bears successful 4x100-meter relay and 4x200-meter relay team.
Maya Harris recently jumped 16-feet, one inch in the long jump, which contends with some of the county's best, while on the boys side Jordan Lomax is looking to medal in both the high and long jump with Chris Edwards looking for a top-two standing in the shot put.
Josh Sanchez has significantly lowered his times in the 300-meter hurdles. Diondre Holt has overcome injury suffered during indoor season and has come back strong in the 110-meter hurdles. The boys 4x400-meter relay team (Sanchez, Quentin Jackson, Collin Evans and Kendall Broome) are primed to medal at the county championships.
Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills are also coming off very successful indoor seasons and are favored to have some top finishes from a variety of players.
Jamila Brown, Deanna Yancey, Christian Saulsbury and T.J Lyles are some top athletes for the Wildecats, while Brit Lang, Kelsey White and Cameron Vereen are set to score high for the Scorpions.