Laurel High junior Alexandria Okon, left, was the only Spartan to qualify for the Class 4A state championships in an individual event. She placed second in the 800 meters at regionals and was 12th at the state meet.
Laurel High junior Alexandria Okon, left, was the only Spartan to qualify for the Class 4A state championships in an individual event. She placed second in the 800 meters at regionals and was 12th at the state meet. (photo by Nicole Munchel)

When Laurel track coach Keon Broadhurst first saw Parkdale transfer Alexandra Okon run, he thought she would be better suited for middle-distance events. After competing in the 55 and 300 meters at Parkdale, the junior switched to the 800 meters for the Spartans.

"She is still a work in progress because she is new to the 800," Broadhurst said. Broadhurst can't wait to see what Okun does as a senior now that she's proven to be a fast learner.

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This spring, Okon became the only Laurel track and field athlete to qualify in an individual event for the Class 4A state championships at Morgan State University on May 23 after she placed second in the region in the 800 meters. She placed third in the same event in the Prince George's County championships.

Broadhurst said the reasons for Okon's success are simple: She has talent and she's eager to improve.

"She has put in a lot of hard work," Broadhurst said of Okon, who finished 12th in the state by running a 223.94.

Three Laurel relay teams also competed in the state championships.

Seniors Daraun Bynoe and Oluwaseyi Sodipo and juniors Michael Bynoe and Tomi Dayo-Otekurin formed the boys 400 relay team, but were disqualified at the meet.

Okon, sophomore Paige Harris, freshman Jaelyn Bowser and Bridgette Manful comprised the girls 1,600 relay team and Okun, sophomores Racquel Clarke and Nancy Palacios and junior Ybe Montiague teamed up to form the 3,200 relay.

The 1,600 group (4:02.24) placed ninth, and the 3,200 team took 16th (10:14.63).

There are bigger things ahead, however, for some other Laurel relay teams.

Two Spartan relay teams were good enough to qualify for the New Balance National Outdoor Championships in Greensboro, N.C. June 19-21.

The 800 boys squad includes the same group that ran the 400 at the state championships and the 1,600 girls team features Clarke, Okun, Harris and Bowser.

"I need them to go a little bit faster. I know they can go faster," Broadhurst said. "The girls are a young group. They have done extremely well."

At St. Vincent Pallotti, senior Thomas Runner finished his career as one of the best Pallotti track athletes in school history. He set a school record in the triple jump with a leap of 40 feet, 2 inches.

That performance landed him a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference championship.

Runner, who will participate in track at McDaniel College next season, also set a school record in the 800 (203:50) this spring and did well in the league championships by placing third in the event.

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"He only ran two seasons for us," Pallotti fourth-year coach Troy Eggleston said. "If he had spent four years running, he would have gone on to a Division I program."

Pallotti senior Jeff Butler was the other Panther to capture a MIAA B Conference championship.

Butler, who will play football at Morehouse College in the fall, won the shot put with a school-record throw of 48-2.

"He is so naturally strong," Eggleston said. "We didn't have the facilities to practice. We had to go to Laurel (High). For these guys to throw and run as well as they did, it's a testament to their work ethic."

Pallotti also received strong efforts from senior Demitri Buggs (2nd, long jump, 19-9) in the league championships.

In addition, he ran a leg on the third-place relay team that featured Tony Tyler, Jacob Johnson and Dashon Ridley.

Eryn Hammond had the best performance of any of the Pallotti girls in the IAAM B Conference meet, grabbing third in the 200 (27.10) and fourth in the 100 (13.0).

The IAAM holds a separate meet for every school in the three conferences. Hammond set a school record the 200 (26.7) to finish 11th overall.

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