High School sports

Glenelg 3-sport star Bisi Owens ‘always did extra’ to be named 2021-22 Baltimore Sun high school boys Athlete of the Year

Glenelg senior Bisi Owens had a special moment to call his own, and the timing was perfect.

In his last taste of high school athletic competition, closing out his sensational three-sport senior year, Owens won the gold medal in the Class 2A triple jump at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state outdoor track and field championships May 28.


“Overall, it was just a phenomenal way for me to go out ... like the cherry on top for my senior year,” he said. “I don’t have words to explain how I felt in that moment. I was soaking it all in. I was looking around at all the fans cheering me on and I’ll always remember that moment. Just an amazing, amazing moment I’ll have for a lifetime.”

A dual-threat quarterback who led an otherwise young Gladiators football team to a 10-win season, a do-everything basketball player who stood out at both ends of the floor and a repeat state champion in the triple jump, Owens has been selected as The Baltimore Sun’s 2021-22 high school boys Athlete of the Year.


Set to play football at Penn, Owens got plenty of mileage out of his senior year. The accolades proved it, including a 4.7 GPA.

On the football field, the two-time captain totaled 2,697 total yards, rushing for 30 touchdowns and passing for 12 to lead the Gladiators to a share of the Howard County championship. In leading the basketball team to a 12-6 mark, Owens averaged a Howard County-high 22 points, pulled down eight rebounds and defended all five positions. He was named the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier Offensive Player of the Year in football and its Player of the Year in basketball. He was also named to The Sun’s All-Metro teams in both sports.

The youngest of five sports-playing brothers whose parents always demanded their very best both in the classroom and on the field, the 6-foot-3 Owens delivered with a combination of natural athletic ability, competitiveness, game sense and leadership.

“Sports is my life. I started playing sports when I was 5 years old,” he said. “As a three-sport athlete, I always had things in the fall, winter and spring, and it allowed me to set a time schedule so I can balance my academics and my athletics. For me, it also empowered my competitive nature. I feel like I’m a very competitive person no matter what is going on, and I try to make everything a game.

“It’s like the pressure is on and you have to perform — like it was ‘Friday Night Lights’ or a packed gym type of thing. So sports have really changed my outlook on almost all things in life and really driven my competitive side.”

Basketball had long been his passion and what he expected to play at the next level, but his breakthrough senior football season gave him the opportunity to play in the prestigious Ivy League at Penn.

As a junior, the Gladiators were poised to have a highly successful season with an experienced senior-laden team. Owens earned the starting quarterback job, but the season was limited to three games because of COVID-19 restrictions. In a glimpse of what was to come, Owens orchestrated an 80-yard, game-winning drive with less than two minutes left to beat rival Howard and win the Elgard Trophy.

In returning for his senior season, Owens worked alongside five underclassmen with no varsity experience on offense. It proved a challenging and highly rewarding season, as he exemplified strong leadership skills while performing at a high level in the team’s 10-2 campaign.


“We’ve had plenty of kids that could throw and plenty of kids that can run who have played quarterback, but no one that’s been able to do both like he can. And with his brain as well — he’s a 4.7 GPA — he handled all the stuff we asked him to do,” Glenelg coach Tim Cullen said. “We had some bumps in the road early, but he stuck with it and kept focused on the goal to win games, whether it was him running the ball, him throwing the ball or him handing the ball off. He was just great.”

Owens was 4 years old when he first hit the sidelines, watching his brothers play with a football in hand. The next year was his first playing for a team, and he’s been nonstop ever since. In addition to football and basketball, he also played baseball until he got to high school. In taking to track and field, he followed his father, Earl, who competed in the triple jump during his college days at Brown.

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His mother, Lorilyn, was also an athlete, so his parents have had the same message for their five sons and one daughter.

“We’ve challenged our kids to do their best, whatever that may lead to,” Earl said. “We’ve always told them, ‘You will not be disappointed if you’ve done your best. You may not win, but if you challenged yourself to do everything you could do, that’s all you can ask.’”

When Owens’ coaches were asked what stood out most about him, the answers varied, a testament to how complete he was as a high school student-athlete. Cullen points out his humility and team-first approach. Basketball coach Alex Blazek mentions his intelligence and how he applies what he’s taught to make the team better.

On the court, there’s a flare to Owens’ game — he could hit a 3-pointer on one possession and rattle the rim with a dunk on the next — but also substance.


“He’s unbelievable and that starts with his family and the great upbringing he had,” Blazek said. “Whatever sport it was, he just bought into the system and would work harder than anybody ever asked him to. He would outwork whatever the coaches asked him to do. He always did extra. Always lifted more. Always got more reps shooting, whatever it was.”

Owens is eager to take on his next challenge. He plans to study economics or analytics at the university’s prestigious Wharton School of business.

“Coming into this year, football was not my main sport I was looking to play in college,” Owens said. “I was going to basketball camps, but not getting the offers I wanted. And then after the football season, the interest came from Penn. I told my parents, ‘I love the game, and think I can do some damage at the next level.’”