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Centennial senior Elijah White repeats as boys outdoor track and field Athlete of the Year

Elijah White had one last high school paper to write, and the topic left him thinking. 

“What legacy would you like to leave behind?”

Athletically, the Centennial senior leaves behind a great one. 

White, a three-sport athlete this year after starring for the Eagles’ football, basketball and track and field teams, ends his high school career as one of the most gifted athletes to roam the halls. He was a part of Centennial basketball’s state title team in 2015, and he is also a two-time outdoor track and field state champion, a four-time region winner and an eight-time Howard County champion in just three seasons with the program.

But before he moves on and continues his promising track and field career at the University of Maine next fall, White will take another honor with him. This spring he has earned the distinction of being the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier boys outdoor track and field Athlete of the Year for the second time.

“I am so proud of how I have done and so thankful for the people that have helped me to where I am,” said White, who becomes the first Howard County boys outdoor track athlete to collect top honors two years in a row since Glenelg’s Robby Creese in 2010 and 2011. “I think I leave a mark at this school and I am very proud of that regardless of what I do at the next level.”

It is White’s natural athletic ability, along with his leadership qualities and work ethic that will put him in the conversation as one of the best overall athletes to come through Centennial.

“I still haven’t fully grasped winning it last year,” he said. “Winning male Athlete of the Year two years in a row is just something I am so thankful for. I can’t take all of the praise for that because it is not only me, but it is amazing to be acknowledged for something that I’ve worked really hard [for] and seeing the work pay off.”

After sweeping the county championship in all three jumping events — high, long and triple — and adding two more region titles and a state championship under his belt during his junior season, White went into his senior year wanting to just improve. He decided not to worry about collecting more medals.

“Outdoor season the mindset was [personal record], nothing more and nothing less,” White said. “We wanted to get to a comfortable place where it was jumping to jump. That was the goal this year. It wasn’t to win counties or states or regionals, it was just to be the best I can be and try and beat my mark each time and towards the end of the year I pretty much did that.”

He didn’t have much time to prepare for the outdoor season, as he stepped back on to the football field in the fall and into the gym for basketball in the winter, yet White still set personal best marks in the high and triple jump. He once again swept the county championship meet in all three jumping events, he won a 3A East region title in the triple jump and he also qualified for nationals in the event after recording a distance of 46 feet, 4 ½ inches at the 3A state meet. White then set a new personal record at the New Balance Nationals after jumping 46-7 ½ to place 19th.

Despite the staggering success in Howard County and all the personal best marks he set, White still believes he has a lot more room to grow.

“I am still not where I think I could be and that’s just being busy,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve had the time to put the whole year toward track and field… But I am excited for college because that is going to be my only focus, indoor and outdoor all year.”

This past year, however, White simply wasn’t ready to give up on football or basketball. He was a team manager for the Eagles football team his junior year but this fall he was able to suit up once again. He made an immediate impact as a deep-threat wide receiver. In fact, he was Centennial’s leading receiver in terms of receptions, yards and touchdowns.

“Having not stepped on a football field for five years and then my senior year being the No. 1 receiver for my team, that was amazing for me,” he said. “High school football was an experience that will not be easily forgotten.”

He quickly jumped into the basketball season in November to lead a resilient group to a 3A East region semifinal appearance. White posted career-best numbers and again finishing among the leaders in most of his team’s statistical categories. He led the Eagles in points and steals and was second in rebounds and assists to garner a first-team all-county nod.

“Our resilience is something I learned to appreciate about that team. We didn’t give up,” White said. “I would have liked to have won another state championship, but I am still proud of those teams because we did put everything out on the floor, so I see my basketball career as a successful one.”

Even more important than the numbers is the growth that has come with playing three varsity seasons of basketball and track, along with a final year of football.

White took the leadership qualities from the other sports into outdoor track season as well. After the individual success he had the past two seasons, White said he is most proud of the success he had with the Eagles’ 4x100-meter relay team, which placed second at the 3A East regional meet and fifth at the 3A state championships.

“We got to states and we just performed. It was one of the most amazing feelings. Coming in fifth, I never thought I would be so happy,” White said. “It is something about when everybody puts everything out there and you get what you were aiming for, we got a new [personal record] by .2 seconds, which is phenomenal.”

White, along with teammates Eli Ross, Vernon Batson and Juan Parra set a school record in the event and narrowly missed qualifying for nationals after posting a time of 43.70 seconds at the 3A state meet.

“We always knew that he had the ability to do other things, but you can only do four events right? So where do you put him? We definitely felt like we had a couple of strong new runners for that 4x100 and we thought we could do well with Elijah in there,” said Centennial coach Al Dodds. “Centennial is not known for its sprint teams. For that to happen, that was just tremendous. I know the other guys were certainly appreciative that he was on that team.”

The influence White has had on the program is immeasurable. He was an unquestioned leader and Dodds said he plans to use White as an example for the rest of his coaching tenure.

“Elijah is definitely going to be one of those guys that I am going to talk about in the next couple of years if I’m still around,” said Dodds. “He is one of those guys that other guys look up to. Not just because of the accolades, but because of the type of person that he was — just a great person to be around and I am sure all the other guys on the team felt that presence every day at practice and of course in the meets as well.”

As White looked back on his paper, he realized he wanted to be remembered for more than just the accolades, but as someone who left all he had no matter what sport or event he was competing in.

“In the sports aspect I don’t want to be seen as a kid who people look at and says, he could have done this. I want people to look back on [my] career and say, ‘Wow they really did the best they could and it paid off,’” he said. “It is more than just the statistics or the points. It is knowing that people can look back and say there wasn’t any time where that guy put his head down and didn’t give it his all. I want people to look back and say, ‘Wow, every meet, every jump, he left it all out there.’ And I think that is what I left behind.”

Also named to the all-county team:

Ayomileken Akinbinu, Reservoir senior.

Events: 400 meters, high jump, long jump, and 4x200- and 4x400-meter relays.

Highlights: Akinbinu won a county title in the 400 meters (50.29 seconds). He placed third at counties in the high (6 feet) and long jump (20 feet, 5 inches). At the 3A East region meet, he finished third in the 400, high and long jump to qualify for the 3A state meet in all three events. Akinbinu also ran in the Gators’ 4x400-meter relay team at regionals, which placed sixth, and also helped Reservoir place seventh in the 4x200 relay at states.

 

Bryce Bruce, Reservoir senior.

Events: Shot put and discus.

Highlights: Bruce was the top shot putter and discus thrower at the county championship meet. He recorded distances of 48 feet, 9 inches and 152 feet, 8 inches, respectively. Bruce then won a 3A East region title in discus and placed fourth in shot put. At the 3A state meet, he placed sixth and fifth in shot put and discus, respectively. Bruce threw a personal record 50 feet, 5 inches in shot put at the meet. 

 

Ethan Cadogan, Long Reach senior.

Events: 110- and 300-meter hurdles.

Highlights: Cadogan won a county championship in the 300 hurdles (39.23) and placed third in the 110 hurdles (15.01). He won a 3A East region title in the 300 hurdles (40.37) and placed second in the 110 hurdles. He finished third and fifth in the 300 and 110 hurdles, respectively, at the 3A state meet. 

 

Nick Deamer, Howard junior.

Events: 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and 4x800-meter relay.

Highlights: Deamer placed second and third in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, respectively, at the county championships. He ran the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 at the 4A North region meet, placing 10th, third and fifth, respectively. At the 4A state championships, Deamer had a personal best time of 4:22.12 in the 1,600 and placed fourth. He also ran in the Lions’ 4x800-relay team that finished seventh.

 

Dae’trell Gordon, Atholton senior.

Events: Shot put and discus.

Highlights: Gordon placed second at the county championships in shot put (48-4) and discus (142-3). He won a 3A East region title in shot put after recording a personal best 53 feet, 5 inches and also placed second in discus (138-4). At the 3A state championship meet, Gordon finished fifth in shot put (50-11 ½) and fourth in discus (149-0).

 

Erik Jenks, Howard senior.

Events: 400 and 800 meters, and 4x400- and 4x800-meter relays.

Highlights: Jenks won a county championship title in the 800 meters (1:59.10) and placed seventh in the 400 meters. He placed second in the 800 (1:57.15) at the 4A North region meet, and helped the Lions place third in the 4x400 relay. At the 4A state championships, Jenks recorded a personal record 1:56.10 in the 800 to place sixth. He also helped Howard to sixth place in the 4x400 relay.

 

T.J. Lyles, Wilde Lake senior.

Events: 110-meter hurdles, long jump, triple jump and 4x100-meter relay.

Highlights: Lyles won a county title in the 110 hurdles (14.69), placed fourth in long jump (20-3) and second in triple jump (43-5 ¾). Lyles won a 3A East region title in long jump (22-9), and placed third in the 110 hurdles (15.75) and triple jump (40-7 ½). At the 3A state meet, he placed second in long jump (22-5) and third in high jump after recording a personal record 45 feet, 41 ½ inches. 

 

Kai Muniz, Reservoir junior.

Events: 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and 4x800-meter relay.

Highlights: Muniz won a county title in the 3,200 (10:02), placed second in the 1,600 (4:30.94) and sixth in the 800 (2:01.89). Muniz placed second in the 3,200 and 1,600 at the 3A East region meet, finished fourth in the 800 and helped the Gators finish third in the 4x800 relay. At the 3A state championships, he had top-eight finishes in the 1,600 (4:30.24) and 3,200 (9:52.00). He also finished 13th in the 800 and helped his team place eighth in the 4x800.

 

Kareem Press, Wilde Lake junior.

Events: Pole vault and 4x400-meter relay.

Highlights: Press was the best pole vaulter in the county this spring, winning county (11-6) and 3A East titles (12-6). At the 3A state meet, he jumped 12-6 and placed fourth.

 

Rahul Reddy, River Hill senior.

Events: 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and 4x800-meter relay.

Highlights: Reddy won a county title in the 1,600 (4:28.73) and placed second in the 800 after running a personal record 2:00.39. At the 3A East region meet, he won the 800 (2:01.05), 1,600 (4:30.96) and 3,200 (9:48.67), and helped the Hawks to a winning time of 8:08.10 in the 4x800 relay. Reddy set a personal record 4:27.02 at the 3A state championships in the 1,600 to finish third. He also placed seventh in the 3,200, 14th in the 800 and helped River Hill to third place in the 4x800.

 

Christian Saulsbury, Wilde Lake senior.

Events: 100 and 200 meters, and 4x100-meter relay.

Highlights: Saulsbury won a county title in the 200-meter dash (22.66) and finished second in the 100 (11.03). At the 3A East region meet, he placed second in the 100 (11.33), seventh in the 200 (23.63) and helped the Wildecats to fourth place in the 4x100 relay. Saulsbury placed fourth (11.01) in the 100 at the 3A state meet.

 

Lucas Shilling, Howard senior.

Event: Pole vault.

Highlights: Shilling placed second at the county championships in pole vault (10-6) and won a 4A North region title in the event, clearing 11-4. At the 4A state meet, he placed second (12-6).

 

Osita Smith, Wilde Lake sophomore.

Events: 110- and 300-meter hurdles, long jump and 4x100-meter relay.

Highlights: Smith placed second at the county championships in the 110 and 300 hurdles. He won a 3A East region title in the 110 hurdles (15.29), placed sixth the 300 hurdles (43.66), fifth in long jump (20-4 ¼) and helped the Wildecats finish fourth in the 4x100 relay (44.91). Smith placed third at the 3A state meet in the 110 hurdles (14.69).

 

Cameron Vereen, Oakland Mills junior.

Events: 100 and 200 meters, and 4x100-meter relay.

Highlights: Vereen won a county title in the 100 dash (10.88). He also helped the Scorpions place third in the 4x100 relay at the county meet and later helped his team to finish eighth at the 2A state meet in the event. Vereen placed second in the 100 (11.36) at the 2A West region championships, and then won a 2A state title in the event after recording a personal record 10.76.

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