With the forecast showing possible thunderstorms rolling through Baltimore Saturday, Oakland Mills’ Ashley Harvey was nervous the state track meet would once again be delayed.
She and teammates Mik’yla Stephens, Seun Sule and Roshnee Roberts were ready to bring the Scorpions a 2A state title in the 4x200-meter relay on Thursday, but with rain drenching Hughes Stadium’s track the quartet anxiously waited for two days before finally being able to compete.
“On Thursday we were ready, we were warmed up. We had set this day in our minds, you know, this was the day and it didn’t happen,” Harvey said. “It threw us off a little bit, but I honestly think it was in gods plan that we ran today. It was a great race, much warmer, great weather so I think this was much better.”
Harvey, Stephens, Roberts and Sule came back to Morgan State University Saturday morning and clocked in with a winning time of 1 minute, 42.86 seconds to clinch their first of two gold medals on the day.
“The pressure building up just got me really, really nervous but all the hard work that we put in this season has finally come through and I am just really happy right now,” Stephens said, who also placed fourth in the 200-meter dash. “We knew it was going to be a really close race with [Lackey], but I think our goal was to just push through that.”
The Chargers followed slightly behind for second place with a time of 1:43.19, while Walkersville came in third (1:45.20).
However, the quartet wasn’t done there. After racing in one of the first events of the afternoon, Stephens, Sule, Harvey and Roberts stepped back on the track to compete in the 4x100 relay about six hours later and had a flawless performance en route to their second state championship.
“I think the chemistry is just amazing,” Harvey said. “We all went out there and I think winning gave us a little bit boost of confidence, like we can really do this. We were a little bit nervous. We said a prayer and we were helping each other out like, ‘We got this. We’re good.’”
It was the third state championship for Stephens and Sule, who were apart of the Scorpions state title winning 4x100-relay team last season.
On Saturday, Sule anchored Oakland Mills to another winning performance after crossing in 48.95 seconds, nearly a second faster than second place finishers, Walkersville (49.42).
“At regionals we had a bad handoff and we just wanted to work on that and we did,” Sule said. “We just wanted to make up the stagger in Lane 8 and we did.”
Shortly after the Scorpions won gold in the 4x100, Reservoir crossed first in the event on the 3A side.
The team of Diamond Turner, Imani Collins, Adaobi Tabugbo and Bethany Golatt finished with a time of 48.89, which not only qualified for Nationals, but also broke a Gators school record.
“I try to be humble, but it feels nice,” said Adaobi, who claimed her first career state title in the win. “I felt confident because for some reason this time I didn’t have any nerves.”
Reservoir coach Phil Rogers was elated when he realized the quartet had etched their names in the school record books.
“Nationals or not, the school record is more important,” Rogers said. “That is what is going to be on the record board at Reservoir. That is what is going to be remembered as one of the top times ever at the history of our school... It was a great way to end the day.”
It was the only first-place performance from the Gators, but they did get top-3 standings from Lola Alli (discus) and Amaka Chukwujekwu (long jump). Alli threw 107-feet, 5 inches for a third-place standing, while Chukwujekwu, in her first track and field season, jumped 18 feet, 1 ½ inches to take second and also set a new school record.
Oakland Mills’ Cameron Vereen was the only individual from Howard County who won a state title at the meet. He qualified with the highest seed time in the 2A 100-meter dash on Thursday and bested that number by .11 seconds Saturday, clocking in at 10.76 to win his first state title after coming in second in the same event last year.
“I feels amazing,” Vereen said. “I’ve been injured all season so to come back and win a state championship is amazing. I feel great. I felt really nervous. I’m not going to lie. Like Thursday my legs were shaking and I was shaking a little bit at the start, but I feel like I could win it. I had the fastest qualifying time, so I felt pretty confident.”
Vereen’s teammate, Andre Turay nearly took home a state title of his own in the 110-meter hurdles, but was edged by Frederick Douglass’s Kollin Smith. Turay ultimately placed second with a time of 14.99.
Vereen and Turay’s top-2 performances, along with Joey Navarro’s top-4 finish in the 1,600-meters helped the Scorpions place seventh overall in the 2A boys team title race after scoring 30 points. Century edged Westlake for the championship after scoring 65.5 points. Marriotts Ridge placed 34th.
Howard boys finished 10th overall in 4A with 22 points, tying Montgomery Blair and Parkdale, while Northwest took first with 64.5 points.
The Lions scored 22 points on the girls side, which was 57 shy of 4A winner C.H Flowers.
Howard's Lucas Shilling and Bayli Smith each placed second in their respective events. Shilling cleared 12 feet, 2 inches in the boys pole vault, while Smith threw 37 feet in the girls shot put.
Oxon Hill won the 3A boys team title with 89 points, while Wilde Lake was the highest placing Howard County school with 30 points to finish sixth. Reservoir followed in 12th, Atholton 17th, Centennial 18th, River Hill 22nd, Long Reach 25th, Glenelg 30th and Hammond 36th.
“With the injuries and small nagging things that took place throughout the course of the preseason and into the first days of the season, it is a testament to these kids to how far they’ve come to bring each other up and help each other rise above is huge,” said Rogers, whose boys team won a 3A East region championship on May 18. “It is almost unexplainable to me. It takes some of the young kids and some of the kids who are in that secondary role [who have] evolved into that primary role and excelled. That makes me more proud than anything else.”
The Gators totaled 30 points on the girls side for an eighth place standing, while Frederick (80), Urbana (65.33) and Mt. Hebron (42) rounded out the top-3.
Atholton placed 14th with 26 points, while Centennial finished 23rd, Hammond 27th, River Hill 28th and Wilde Lake 33rd.
Alexandra Hargrett showed well for the Raiders in her first state meet. She placed second and fifth in the girls 1,600 -and 800-meters, respectively, while also helping Atholton to a third place standing in the 4x800-relay. Mt. Hebron edged the Raiders for second place in the race after clocking in at 9 minutes, 35.06 seconds.
Alexandra Banham and Satori Valentine, who both helped the Vikings earn silver in that race, placed third and fourth, respectively, in the 800 meters with times of 2:17.75 and 2:18.77.
Valentine also placed third in the 400-meters, while teammate Jaiden Ritter followed in fourth.
Wilde Lake’s T.J Lyles had a second place finish in the 3A boys long jump and also earned third in triple jump. Centennial’s Elijah White bested Lyles in triple jump, placing second, while also finishing fourth in high jump and eighth in long jump.
Osita Smith added a third place finish for the Wildecats after clocking in at 14.69 in the 110-hurdles. Long Reach's Ethan Cadogan placed fifth in the race with a time of 14.91 and then earned bronze in the 300-hurdles after finishing in 38.80.
Rahul Reddy took third in the 1,600-meters with a time of 4:27.02 and also anchored the Hawks to a second place finish in the 4x800-relay.
The Scorpions placed eighth overall on the 2A girl’s side with Lackey (113), Hereford (64.5), Randallstown (45), South Carroll (44) and Harford Tech (34) rounding out the top five. The Mustangs finished just outside the top-10 with 22 points, ending in 12th.
Riley Murtha led Marriotts Ridge in four different events. She placed second in high jump (5 feet, 4 inches), third in the 100-hurdles, fifth in the 300-hurdles and sixth in triple jump.