Laurel Leader’s sports moments of the year

There were many fine athletic achievements in Laurel during 2019, and here are six of those memorable moments from Laurel and Saint Vincent Pallotti high schools.

Pallotti football

Shortly after losing to St. Mary’s in last year’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship game, the St. Vincent Pallotti football team got right back to work in preparation for the 2019 season.


That extra work paid off, as the Panthers (11-1) rolled through the B Conference this year and capped off a championship season with a 42-0 victory over the Saints on Nov. 16 in the B Conference championship game at Archbishop Spalding High School.

Emani Alford ran for 82 yards and scored three touchdowns, while the Pallotti defense recorded its sixth shutout of the season and the team won their 10th straight games.


“We were in the championship last year and lost,” Pallotti coach Tony Ashley said. “We started working that Monday after Thanksgiving in the weight room. We progressed throughout the season. The coaches worked hard and the players worked hard.”

Laurel volleyball

In the Class 4A South Region 1 volleyball semifinal, third-seeded Laurel upset second-seeded Bladensburg in five sets.

It avenged an epic regular-season loss to Bladensburg when they fell 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23.

The Laurel volleyball ended up in the Class 4A South Region I championship game where they were swept by top-seeded Parkdale.

Laurel finished 8-5-1 and won its final three regular-season games.

Tolulope Ajenifuja, Briana Francis,Jocelyn Avent-Turner, Christie Edmen, Dasia Byrd and Gabriela Fagoaga were some key performers for the Spartans.

Pallotti cross country

In his 14th year as coach, Dave Tenney, knew early in the season his team had a chance to do what no other Pallotti girls cross country team had ever done — win a championship.

“I kind of realized maybe after the first week of the season, when we started seeing the times from around the conference, that we had a shot at it,” Tenney said. “I told the girls this has to be our goal.”

The Panthers achieved that goal when they won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference championship on Oct. 29 at McDaniel College.

Pallotti finished with 55 points and won the meet.

Tenney’s daughter, freshman Isabel Tenney, was third in the conference race and her time of 21:49.35 was the second best time of all the freshmen running in the race.

Senior Rylee Roberts was seventh (23:57,12) and freshman Ava Tillman was eighth (24:28.17) for the Panthers.


Also scoring in the top five were sophomore Gabby Frederick (19th, 26:09.86) and freshman Ailee Morrison (20th, 26:22.78).

Laurel boys soccer

Before the season, Laurel boys soccer coach Daryl Ferguson didn’t know what to expect from his Spartans.

“I actually wasn’t sure how the season was going to turn out,” Ferguson said. “There were some players who weren’t able to play based on grades, there were some players that transferred out, so my thoughts coming into the season were ‘I’m not sure how it was going to turn out,’ but it actually turned out pretty well,” Ferguson said.

Laurel finished 11-3, losing in the Class 4A North Region I championship game to Bladensburg, 5-2.

On Oct. 25, the top-seeded Spartans began play in the second round of the Class 4A South Region I bracket with a 2-1 overtime victory over Northwestern.

Laurel got a first-half penalty-kick goal from senior Kwame Duncan and they won it on a goal by senior Aboyede Olubo in the extra session.

Pallotti wrestling

After finishing fifth in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference dual-meet standings, the St. Vincent Pallotti wrestling team exacted some revenge on the rest of the teams ahead of them at the MIAA tournament.

The 17-team tournament, which includes A and B Conference teams, was won handily by A Conference power Mount St. Joseph, but Pallotti finished ninth overall with 44 points.

The Panthers were ahead of A Conference teams Boys’ Latin (12th, 35 points) and Calvert Hall (13th 32.5).

They were also the top B Conference school, including finishing ahead of a St. Mary’s squad that went unbeaten (6-0) during the regular season.

Pallotti senior Tyler Rhodes was seeded sixth, but finished fourth at 195 pounds. Junior Jeremy Wright was seeded eighth at 132 pounds and went 3-2 and placed fifth.

The only other Panther to place top six at MIAAs was freshman heavyweight Robert Thornburg, who was sixth.

Laurel baseball

A young Laurel High baseball team earned the top seed in the regional baseball tournament and a first round bye.

In the second round, the Spartans defeated Bladensburg, 3-1.

Laurel was eliminated by Parkdale, 10-0, in the Class 4A South Section I finals.

“Good pitching carried us through the season and we were solid defensively,” Laurel coach Don Cleveland said.

Laurel was 11-5, after finishing under .500 in 2018.

The three seniors on the 2019 roster were Roy Wesley, Sterling Harper and Connor Lohman.

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