Hereford’s girls have been the queens of Maryland track and field for several years. The last time the Bulls were beaten in a state meet — indoor or outdoor — was 2018.
The Class 2A race at the MPSSAA state track and field championships came down to the final event. Hereford’s Lizzie Lopez won the high jump, but Oakland Mills placed three girls in the top eight, securing enough points to keep the Scorpions ahead of the Bulls and win the team championship.
“Is that what happened? If that happened I’d be very proud and excited,” said Valerie Ashamu, second-place finisher in the high jump.
Alicia Hall added a fourth and Nakisha Hogan tied for sixth in the event.
“From Day 1, we were already excited and feeling very confident we can be state champs,” Ashamu said. “I feel like we had to come harder, try our best and have fun.”
After winning the 4x200 relay on Thursday’s first day of competition, Oakland Mills only had one other first, Frankie Moore winning the 1,600. But the Scorpions had a lot of depth, including a jubilant 4x100 relay team that finished second.
“For the team, it’s a big deal,” Saniya Curtis said. “The boys usually dominate, but for the girls, we’re showing we can hold our own. ... We have a great chemistry with the team.”
If Hereford was giving up its title, it was going to make a team earn it. Piper Lentz won the 800 for the Bulls.
“We’re doing everything we can to put together some points,” Lentz said in the middle of the points battle. “We’re all feeding off each other with our energy. We’ve had great performances today so far. ... Our team’s depth is amazing. We have so many great runners, it’s great to be able to run these races with them.”
Middletown (72.5), Friendly (49) and Frederick Douglass (39) rounded out the 2A top five.
Two other area programs won team titles. Howard ran away with the 3A title with 104 points, followed by Linganore (52), Springbrook (50), Northern-Calvert (43) and Reservoir (40).
Nimrit Ahuja won the 800 and 1,600 for the Lions on Saturday. In the 1,600, her teammate Hannah Schwab finished fourth.
“It’s really exciting to have these races with my teammates, knowing that we’re coming in here trying to win the state title as a whole,” Ahuja said. “Just knowing that all these places aren’t for ourselves they’re for our team as a whole is really motivating.”
Howard also got wins from Elizabeth Holcombe in the 3,200 and Ruth Smith in the high jump. Michaela Greene, Sydney Rhodes, Bianca Durant and Kiara Murray teamed to win the 4x200 relay. Schwab, Ahuja, Jasmine Wilson and Kiley Mann won the 4x800 relay.
In 1A, Western Tech won with 81 points, followed by Largo (66), Smithsburg (59), Fort Hill (58) and Allegany (49).
Laila Gaynor won the 400, the Wolverines’ lone victory.
“For me, I always have to get out, because without getting out, it’s not going to be a good race,” Gaynor said. “So I really just got out and maintained, then started building up around the 200 and it carried me to the end.”
Samara Jones had a big day, finishing second in the 200 and triple jump and third in the 100 while running on the second-place 4x100 relay. Western Tech also finished second in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays.
Urbana won the 4A title with 102.16 points, followed by Blake (90.5), C.H. Flowers (66.16), Leonardtown (44) and Broadneck (33).
A little bit of luck
South Carroll’s 4x400 team of Morgan Guynn, Brooke Pribulick, Lauren Chesney and Madelyn Boyce had luck on their side when they won their 1A race. They had skill, too, but found an added boost before the race.
“Right before the race we found four four-leaf clovers that we ran with,” Boyce said. “We kept them in our shirts during the race. We made sure had them, we thought that was really special.”
Guynn ran the third leg and put the team in position to win, as Boyce charged ahead during her anchor leg.
“Brooke did a really good job catching up,” Guynn said. “I was right behind her when we started and I caught her on the straightaway. Which is the easiest to pass people on. Around the bend I started feeling it and kept trying to go as fast I can.”
Mt. Hebron’s Arayana Ladson still had 2021 on her mind, when she fell during her 100 hurdles race. Saturday, she overcame the past, winning the 3A race in 14.65 seconds.
She said remembering last year made her nervous, but also motivated her.
“It kind of made me nervous, because the seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th hurdle, they come up on you quick and that’s the hurdle I fell on,” she said. “This year I just motivated myself to not think about that and kept going.”
Reservoir’s Jamie Adams was a triple champion. She won the 100 and 200 and teamed with Mecca Jackson, Sophia Davidson and Shelby Foulks to win the 4x100 relay.
Adams was congratulated by both teammates and county rivals after her winning time of 11.91
“It means a lot. I know support from other schools, it’s humble to know people from other schools are supporting me,” she said.
Also in 3A, Woodlawn’s Denisha McLaurin won the triple jump (38-4) and Centennial’s Liv Ragonese won the shot put (37-9 1/2).
In 2A, Overlea’s Temi Ario, Deborah Oyetunde, Mariam Sanni and Nevaeh Frierson won the 4x400 relay and Century’s Isabella Mastria won the long jump with a final leap of 17-11 1/2 that she’s not even sure how she reached.
“I was shocked. The best I’ve done before was 16-9, I was like, ‘How did I get 17-11?’ I don’t know what happened,” Mastria said. “I just thought, this was it, worse comes to worst I scratch. I just need to jump as far as I can. And it worked.”
In 4A, Meade’s Jasmine Cook, Janayis Mendoza, Isabelle Franklin and Jaela Reid teamed to win the 4x200 relay. In 1A, Edmondson’s Mahogany Jones won the 200 and Francis Scott Key’s Ashleigh Porter won the high jump.