After having reached similar heights nationally during their respective seasons, Patterson's Deshawn Barrett and Towson Catholic's Devon Williams shared The Sun's top high school athletic honors yesterday at M&T; Bank Stadium.
Barrett, a senior, and Williams, a sophomore, were named the male and female standouts for 2004-05 at The Sun's 39th annual Athlete of the Year awards banquet.
Each also was the recipient of a $500 check from Modell's Sporting Goods for their respective athletic departments, and each seemed impressed with the other's accomplishments.
"I heard what he did and I was like, 'Wow,'" said Williams, a four-time first-team All-Metro track and field selection and The Sun's 2004-05 indoor track All-Metro Performer of The Year. "No. 1 in the nation, I've been there, but as a wrestler, that's great."
But it was Barrett, The Sun's All-Metro Wrestler of The Year, who stammered in the wake of Williams' onstage poise.
"I tried to say everything she said, but she was so perfect up there," Barrett said. "When it was my turn, I didn't know what to say."
The spotlight is nothing new for Williams, the first female sophomore and the second-ever 10th grader to receive the honor. As a 9-year-old, she eclipsed a 23-year-old national junior record in the 1,500 meters and broke it again a few days later.
Williams' running exploits continued through her breakthrough season at Towson Catholic, when, as a freshman, she ran the 600 meters faster than any ninth-grader in the United States had previously, earning her the nickname "the fastest girl in the world" by her Towson Catholic classmates.
Williams followed that up with an outdoor season in which she took four gold medals and set three meet records at the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championships.
This year, Williams has established a new indoor national record in the 500, posted the second-fastest national marks in both the 300 and 600 meters, and the fourth-best in the 400. Outdoors at the IAAM championships, Williams turned in the fastest times nationally in the 400 and the 800.
Barrett earned second-team All-Metro honors last fall as a football tight end and linebacker, leading the Clippers to the Class 4A state semifinals.
But it is on the wrestling mats where Barrett swept the area, state and country by storm, going 42-0 with 34 pins and earning the 215-pound state and national titles. Barrett is 73-2 with 62 pins over the past two seasons, including a 44-match winning streak.
Barrett has received scholarship offers from North Carolina State, Nebraska, Edinboro (Pa.) and Bloomsburg (Pa.) for wrestling, and from Virginia Tech and Tennessee for football.
Brenda Frese, women's basketball coach at the University of Maryland, was the keynote speaker.