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Class 1A, 2A athletes find success on first day of state track and field championships: ‘There’s no better feeling than being a champion’

LANDOVER — Oakland Mills boys track and field athletes are used to success. The Scorpions won last year’s outdoor title and backed it up by winning the indoor title this season.

But getting your own gold medal is a feeling that’s hard to beat.

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“Winning an individual state title, that means a lot,” Oakland Mills’ Kanye Holland said. “I already been a part of state championship teams, we’re trying to run it back three times in a row, but there’s no better feeling than being a champion.”

Holland won the Class 2A long jump on the first day of the MPSSAA outdoor track and field championships at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover. Classes 1A and 2A competed Thursday with a handful of running and field event finals, as well as semifinals in sprints and hurdles.

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Even though Holland’s first jump wasn’t a winner, it told him what was to come.

“My first jump was 21-3, but from that I knew it was going to be a good day,” he said. “I knew I was going to have some good jumps after that. Just had to keep going off the board the same, keep running the same.”

Toward the end of the competition, Holland readied to start his jump. He clapped his hands and encouraged everyone else nearby to do the same. With the support echoing around him, Holland produced a winning jump of 21 feet, 9 1/4 inches.

“It gives me a boost. It makes me do something crazy,” he said. “That’s the only reason I jumped the 21-9 I did, cause of that clap.”

Holland was one of three Scorpions to win individual gold medals Thursday. Ethan Aidam won the 3,200 meters in 9 minutes, 43.34 seconds, nearly six seconds faster than Century’s Peyton Dill.

Aki Harvey won a battle of attrition to take first in the high jump. Harvey and Middletown’s Levi Zilneus went to a jump-off after each was flawless clearing 6 feet, but couldn’t clear 6-2. After several jumps couldn’t decide a winner, Harvey had a little more left in the tank to make the winning jump.

“We were going back and forth for a while, but I feel I wanted it more than he did,” Harvey said.

His teammate Abdur Hassan finished third, but Harvey’s win was something he’s been waiting for.

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“I’ve been working all season to get to this moment,” he said. “I’ve been manifesting it. I told everybody I was going to win. I told them and it happened.”

Oakland Mills also won the 4x200 relay. Holland, Trevin McHargh, Judson Lincoln IV and Shane King finished in 1:26.9.

There might already be too much distance for Oakland Mills to be caught in the team title. The Scorpions scored 52 points on Day 1. Second-place Calvert has 16.

More area champions

Pikesville’s Kaleb Berhanu has won gold before in 1,600. However, the top prize in a 3,200 has always eluded him. At least, until Thursday. Berhanu finished the 1A 3,200 in 9:37.92 for a long-awaited gold.

“This is my first 3,200 title. I won the 1,600 indoor my sophomore year and outdoor last year. But I could never pull off the 3,200,” he said. “Both years I got second place. This is the first year I got first place, it feels great.”

Berhanu pulled away from a group on the last of the eight laps, running it in just over 1 minute.

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“The plan was to stay with the pack if I could as long as possible,” Berhanu said “I’ve had a great kick this season. I used it in my county championships to win two titles. So I knew if I stayed with that group I could get the win.”

Patterson Mill’s Cameron Dawson won an “unexpected” first in the 1A high jump. He was the only competitor to clear 6 feet.

“I just wasn’t in my head,” Dawson said. “I was going through, remembering everything I worked on this season. Letting my muscle memory take over and forgetting everything else.”

Two area relays won gold. Joppatowne’s Shawn Cain Jr., Amar Mack, Christian Vias and Sean Williams II won the 1A 4x200 in 1:32.79. They beat out Largo by 18-hundredths of a second.

In 2A, Southern’s team of Hayden Myers, Eric Penkala, Christian Bingley and Connor McKee won the 4x800 in 8:13.98, more than 10 seconds faster than second-place Liberty.

“I think we’re just getting started,” McKee said.

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Southern built up a big lead, giving McKee plenty of breathing room for his anchor leg.

“Every 200 I was thinking speed and just going a little bit faster, that seemed to work,” Bingley said.

Try it, you might like it

New Towne’s Ian Browne was a sprinter most of the year. Toward the end of the season, he decided he wanted to try the long jump. In his first meet, a Baltimore County meet, he finished eighth. In his second meet, he improved his distance by more than 4 feet and won a regional championship.

On Thursday, he finished third in Class 2A in the event.

“I felt I did OK. This is my third time jumping this year so I feel I did really good,” he said. “Third place is good for me I feel like. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I’m still happy about it.”

Why only jump three times?

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“I never knew I was good at it until halfway through the year,” Browne said.

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