During a normal outdoor track and field season, coaches and fans could expect to look up and see teams like Severna Park, South River and Arundel near the top of the leaderboard.
Dating back to 2017, the Falcons boys’ teams had won three consecutive county championships while the Wildcats were the last champions on the girls side.
“I always look for Severna Park and South River to be the teams to beat but never counting Arundel out,” Wildcats head coach Ira Queen said.
However, in a season unlike any other, it is very difficult to predict who will be standing on the podium at the end of the season due to lower than normal turnout and the general unpredictability of who is ready to peak and who is just getting back into track shape.
“Severna Park [girls] and Arundel [boys] always seem to reload each year but this is an odd year and it may play out differently than in past seasons,” Broadneck coach Josh Webster said. “I’m excited to see who has been working this off season to take advantage of the short season — you don’t have as much time to prepare athletes to reach their training peak so athletes who come in prepared will be hard to beat.”
With all the uncertainty, Chesapeake coach Jim Beatty believes that depth will play a huge role and that there are a number of exciting athletes around the county to watch.
“This season is all about roster numbers, which are down due to COVID,” Beatty said. “Track and field has 18 events so teams that can fill more events, like Severna Park and Broadneck, have a definite advantage. That said, there are a lot of individual specialists across the county to make each event interesting.”
Beatty singled out Arundel high jumper Maya Murchison (Arundel), distance runners Luke Coffin (Annapolis), Hayden Healey (Chesapeake), Garrett Bivens (Chesapeake) and Jake Gelfand (Severna Park), as well as Northeast sprinter Christal Pommells and South River thrower Lacey Fowler.
There are only a few weeks to prepare for the county championships, which will occur June 2 at Northeast High School. A six-team sectional meet, new this year, to occur between June 7-10 followed by region final meets on June 12, 14 and 15. The state championship meets will occur on June 18 (1A/4A) and June 19 (2A/3A).
Here’s what to expect from the local programs:
Coach: Brian Brown, 17th season
Boys athletes to watch: Senior Sam Bridgeman (middle distance); juniors Luke Coffin (distance) and Gavin Birchfield (sprints).
Girls athletes to watch: Senior Torey Hurst (sprints/hurdles); junior Audrey Walters (distance); sophomores Ruby Whitaker (middle distance) and Kennedy Atkins (shot/long jump).
On your mark: “The girls’ team is young but works extremely hard. They should be pretty good this year. The boys team have some top individuals but lack numbers.” — coach Brian Brown
Coach: Ira Queen, 24th season
Boys athletes to watch: Seniors Jeffrey Owens (hurdles/sprints), Gideon Smith (jumps/sprints), Jordan Malone (sprints/throws), Jaydon Bowden (jumps/throws), William McDougall IV (distance) and Zachary Chelidona (distance); junior Tucker Sangster Jr. (distance); sophomore Dejuan Bowdry (sprints).
Girls athletes to watch: Juniors Maya Murchison (jumps/hurdles), Katherine Leddy (middle distance), Anna Van Gaal (distance), Charisma Wardlaw (throws) and Kalena Rose-Castillo (sprints); sophomore Audrey Owens (sprints); freshman Bryce Hatcher (sprints).
On your mark: “We have a small number of kids on the team this year but we do have some top kids returning. We will continue to improve by each meet and hope to get through the season.” — coach Ira Queen
Coach: Josh Webster, second season
Boys athletes to watch: Seniors Grayson Miller (pole vault) and Zephyr Crestwell (sprints); junior Adyen Wheless (throws); sophomore Bryce Clark (distance).
Girls athletes to watch: Senior Molly Wilson (sprints); junior Mollie Fenn (distance); sophomore Emma Kerr (distance).
On your mark: “We expect to have a deep girls team this year that has the ability to score points in a lot of different events. Our boys team has a number of new members but our expanded throws team should be formidable.” — coach Josh Webster
Coach: Jim Beatty, third season
Boys athletes to watch: Seniors Nick Liu (middle distance), Raphael Smith (long jump), Hayden Healy (distance) and Garrett Bivens (distance/middle distance); juniors Anthony Marcic (pole vault/sprints), Eric Taylor (sprints/high jump) and Maxx Gray (sprints/high jump).
Girls athletes to watch: Seniors Sarah Cuttler (throws) and Abby McFarland (sprints); juniors Bridgette Van Valkenburgh (distance), Bailey Healy (sprints/relays) and Megan Miller (middle distance/relays); sophomores Tina Tinelli (high jump/sprints), Ella Shannon (sprints) and Olivia Elsis (sprints/jumps); freshman Maddy Simard (sprints/1,600).
On your mark: “Our first goal is to have an entire season and get the right athletes in the events that give them the best chance of making it to the state meet. The state meet is very hard to qualify for this year — only the top two athletes from each region advance. Since we only have four regular season meets, which are small and competition varies greatly depending on roster numbers, our focus has been on each individual doing their best rather than overall team scores. “ — coach Jim Beatty
CHESAPEAKE SCIENCE POINT
Coach: Galen Watts, sixth season
Boys athletes to watch: Seniors Ashay Patel (middle distance/relays) and Isaiah Monterroso (middle distance/relays); junior Gaby Sanders (middle distance, relays); sophomore Josh Sanders (sprints/relays).
On your mark: “Like all the other schools, CSP is dealing with a lower than normal amount of participants. For CSP that makes our roster extremely thin. With that being said, the returning athletes are the best at the school. We will work hard and make no excuses we are planning to make the postseason if there is one.” — coach Galen Watts
Coach: Stacy Severtson, first season
Boys athletes to watch: Sophomores Allen Gottlieb (sprints/triple jump), Tyler Vuong (sprints/jumps) and Quinn Tapscott (discus/sprints).
Girls athletes to watch: Sophomores Alethia Carroll (discus/shot), Elizabeth Collins (pole vault/triple jump/hurdles) and Allysa Gallaher (distance/triple jump).
On your mark: “With this being the first year for the Crofton High School track and field program, we focused on providing an opportunity for all the athletes to participate in all the events the sport has to offer. With only freshman and sophomores in attendance, and the lost season due to COVID last year, none of our athletes had any experience with outdoor track and field, basically we started the program from scratch. This year, our goals are to establish a high quality program, teach and expose the athletes to all aspects of track and field, and competitively compete with other varsity programs.” — coach Stacy Severtson
Coach: Kristi Starr, first season
Boys athletes to watch: Senior Joel Ukpelegbu (middle distance/relays) and Kamal Mlima (middle distance/jumps).
Girls athletes to watch: Junior Saniya Rowe (sprints/relays); sophomore Miya Green (sprints/jump).
On your mark: “Kamal has really stepped up with leading daily warm ups and stations along with helping the new athletes with technique and guidance. Joel is a super senior who has the best positive attitude and drive which helps motivate others. Miya will always help a new runner and jumper with technique and her experience to ease the stress of competition for others. Saniya has become a leader for our girls relay teams. She will start warms up and stations on her own.” — coach Kristi Starr
Coach: William Crutchfield, sixth season
Boys athletes to watch: Senior Jadiel Mendoza (sprints); sophomore Joel Mendoza (sprints).
Girls athletes to watch: Sophomores Gaia Lance (hurdles) and Ella Pearsall (sprints); freshmen Simisola Balogun (sprints) and Janayis Mendoza (sprints).
On your mark: “We are focusing on training our ninth grade runners to be better. We have a very young team this year, consisting mostly of first time ninth-grade runners. Although the team is young, in the first two meets, these young runners have shown that we are going to have the best sprinters in the County.” — coach William Crutchfield
Coach: Travis Wells, second season
Boys athletes to watch: Senior Sam Graham (sprints); juniors Joshua McLaughlin (middle distance), Andrew Pardoe (middle distance) and Daevon Lionel (sprints); freshman Martin Ohakah (middle distance).
Girls athletes to watch: Senior Natalie Lewis (middle distance/jumps); juniors Melissa Kane (pole vault) and Katie Bottom (sprints/pole vault); freshman Mari Springer (sprints).
On your mark: “The goals I have for our team is to always compete at a high level, never quit and always look for ways to get better academically and athletically. We have several athletes that are ready to compete for county championships in their events.” — coach Travis Wells
Coach: Shawn Lightfoot, second season
Boys athletes to watch: Senior Jahmoy Bartley (sprints); junior Landon Monday (pole vault).
Girls athletes to watch: Seniors Christal Pommells (sprints) and Kamryn Johnson (sprints/long jump).
On your mark: “Our goal is to advance as far as possible into the postseason. We do more with less.” — coach Shawn Lightfoot
Coach: Carrie Klimes, fifth season
Boys athletes to watch: Seniors Brycen Chovan-Lesikar (pole vault) and Chase Franklin (hurdles); juniors Damon Martin (middle distance/distance), Kamel Winfield (sprints) and Angelo Bowser (jumps); sophomore Joseph DeRosier (300 hurdles).
Girls athletes to watch: Senior Shiyenne Clark (sprints); junior Bella Anderson (distance); sophomores Raquel Sharps (sprints), Ariana Wright (sprints), Isabella Shanley (middle distance) and Rosie Baquie (distance).
On your mark: “Due to COVID-19, we have a squad that is about a third of the size that we would normally have. However, we will still be competitive in many events, especially the boys pole vault, sprinting events, jumping events, mile, and 800, as well as on the girls’ side in many of the longer sprinting events like the 400 and 4x400 relay.” — coach Carrie Klimes
Coach: Josh Alcombright
Boys athletes to watch: Seniors Carson Sloat (middle distance) and Jake Gelfand (distance); juniors Eddie Sullivan (middle distance), Tyler Canaday (middle distance), Mason Siebenhaar (distance), James Glebocki (distance), John Tyler (high jump/sprints) and Casey Grindle (sprints).
Girls athletes to watch: Seniors Claire Kintzley (jumps/sprints), Caroline Gage (distance), Cara vanDemeulebroecke (distance) and Janice Chukwu (sprints); junior Madison Rice (pole vault).
On your mark: “Our goals for this season are to get back into the swing of things, be back together as a team and work towards getting better. The kids who have been training consistently are looking to run some fast times and relays. In terms of what team goals we have it remains to be seen what type of postseason we are going to have. Once we figure out what that is going to look like we can start to formulate some goals/expectations but until then we are just happy to be back at it competing.” — coach Josh Alcombright
Coach: Leon Tucker, eighth season
Boys athletes to watch: Seniors Zach Fegley (distance/pole vault) and Louis Jacks (middle distance/high jump); juniors Hayden Myers (sprints), Connor Mckee (distance), Luke Clow (sprints/triple jump), Travis Groves (hurdles/pole vault), Khalil Hawkins (sprints/long jump), Jacob duCellier (middle distance) and Gabe White (sprints/throws).
Girls athletes to watch: Senior Marley Blundell (middle distance) and Kayleigh O’Brien (sprints/hurdles); juniors Hannah Burgee (middle distance), Ashley Beall (middle distance), Maria Love (sprinter/long jump), Lillian James (distance) and Charlotte Dove (throws).
On your mark: “Our only expectation for this season is to come to ‘work’ each day and to improve our times each week.” — coach Leon Tucker
Coach: Hugh Harris, 11th season
Boys athletes to watch: Seniors Michael Burgess (middle distance), Garrett Gallaher (distance), Jake Gallaher (distance), Ryan Hepler (middle distance), Ryan Hollenbach (middle distance/throws), Tyler Kempton (distance), Ryan Lomax (middle distance), David Nelson (hurdles/jumps) and Paul Watson (distance).
Girls athletes to watch: Seniors Morgan Douglass (distance), Lacey Fowler (throws) and Ava Schrand (distance).
On your mark: “With about 90 student-athletes on the team and half of them whom have never competed in a track meet, we are just excited to be able to perform at some kind of competition. Our main goal is to build on the future of the team in this sport by exposing them to many opportunities for success.” — coach Hugh Harris