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High School sports

Baltimore Sun high school track and field preview: Storylines, players to watch and top 15 teams heading into 2022 season

Here’s what you need to know for the 2021-22 high school track and field season in the Baltimore area:

Storylines to watch

MPSSAA state champions are reclassifying.

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The start of a new classification cycle has caused quite a shift for several of last year’s state champions. Among the changes, last year’s 4A girls champ Howard is now in 3A; both of last year’s 3A champs, the Oakland Mills boys and Hereford girls, are now in 2A; and 2A boys champ Milford Mill is now in 3A.

Are the Class 2A titles already decided?

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With the Oakland Mills boys and Hereford girls dropping to 2A, will anyone be able to challenge the champions? Both posted comfortable wins last year during the outdoor season, and both dominated this year’s indoor championships while competing in 2A. Can any schools step up to challenge them for outdoor titles?

MIAA/IAAM championships are back.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on private schools, as the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Interscholastic Athletic Associated of Maryland haven’t held championship meets since 2019. But after two lost years, championships are back on the table in 2022. No current freshman, sophomore or junior athletes have had a chance to compete for a private school championship until this year.

Juliette Whittaker makes her last stand.

One of the most decorated high school track careers in Baltimore history is coming to a close. Whittaker has dominated local competition in track distance races, as well as cross country. She also ran at the Olympic Trials for the 2020 Tokyo Games. She has one last local track season before heading to Stanford.

Can indoor success carry over?

A few schools who didn’t challenge for team titles at last year’s outdoor championships put together great showings at this year’s indoor meet. Dulaney boys finished ninth in 4A outdoors last year and improved to second indoors. Meanwhile, Mervo, Poly and Manchester Valley finished second, third and fourth, respectively, in 3A indoors. Neither finished in the top six in their respective classes outdoors.

Girls track and field

Athletes to watch

Nimrit Ahuja, Howard, distance, senior

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Ahuja finished second in the Class 4A 1,600 at last year’s outdoor state championships and third in the 800. She won the 1,600 and was second in the 800 at this year’s 3A indoor championships.

Nelly Cruz, Maryvale Prep, jumps, junior

Cruz was an indoor national qualifier in the hurdles. She finished second in the long jump at the IAAM indoor championships and totaled 20 points in four indoor events.

Elise Cooper, McDonogh, sprints, freshman

Cooper got her high school career off to a great start at the IAAM indoor championships, winning the 55 and the 300.

Piper Lentz, Hereford, mid-distance, senior

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Lentz is poised to have a great senior year for the Bulls, winning two gold medals at the indoor state championships in the 800 and 1,600. She finished fourth in the 3A 800 during last year’s outdoor championships.

Lizzie Lopez, Hereford, jumps, senior

Another strong piece of Hereford’s recent state championship teams, Lopez was last year’s 3A high jump state champion, a silver medalist in the pole vault and a fourth-place finisher in the 100 hurdles. She also won the high jump and was second in pole vault at the indoor championships.

Maya Murchison, Arundel, jumps, senior

Murchison won the 4A high jump at last year’s state championships — and it wasn’t even close. Murchison cleared 5-foot-4 in the finals, 6 inches higher than the second-place finisher.

Elizabeth Pickett, Bel Air, distance, senior

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In multiple seasons, in multiple sports, Pickett has proved her prowess as a distance runner. She won last year’s 3A state championship in the 3,200 and also won this year’s indoor 3A 3,200. In between, she finished third in 3A at the cross country state championships.

Alicia Vo, Maryvale Prep, jumps, junior

Vo finished second in the high jump at the IAAM indoor championships and has been competing with her team at the national level. She figures to score a lot of points for Maryvale during the outdoor season.

Juliette Whittaker, Mount de Sales, distance, senior

Whittaker’s storied high school career comes to a close. She has proven to be one of the top distance runners in the nation and will compete in college at Stanford. She was The Sun’s All-Metro cross country Runner of the Year.

Preseason Top 15

1. Maryvale Prep

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Coach: Jason Miller

Outlook: The IAAM A Conference indoor champions feature several athletes that have racked up state titles and high finishes at nationals. Maryvale can boast several athletes capable of scoring points in multiple events.

2. Hereford

Coach: Adam Hittner

Outlook: The Bulls were state champions at last year’s 3A meet and drop down to 2A this year. They ran away with this year’s 2A indoor title and feature several athletes who have already won state championships.

3. McDonogh

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Coach: Phil Turner

Outlook: McDonogh finished second to Maryvale at the IAAM indoor championships and sent several athletes to indoor nationals. They have the ability to post high point totals against any teams in Maryland — public or private.

4. Howard

Coach: Zach Dickerson

Outlook: The Lions, who drop to 3A this year, return a strong group from last year’s 4A state championship team. They finished second by two points at this year’s indoor championships.

5. Franklin

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Coach: Paul Hannsen

Outlook: The Indians finished second to Hereford at last year’s 3A outdoor championships, but with Hereford switching classes, the Indians could be in line for a state title as several scorers from last season were underclassmen.

6. Century

Coach: Dyron Johnson

Outlook: The Knights finished second to Hereford as this year’s indoor championships and boast a team that can put up points throughout the lineup, from sprints to distance races.

7. Notre Dame Prep

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Coach: Marshall Edrington

Outlook: After finishing third at the IAAM indoor championships, Notre Dame Prep should carry that success over to the outdoor season.

8. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Philippe DeRosier

Outlook: The Cavaliers were tied for fourth at the IAAM indoor championships, including champions in the long jump and the pole vault.

9. River Hill

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Coach: Ammera Schmidt

Outlook: The Hawks finished third at last year’s 3A state championships. Janasia Buckner won gold in the 100 as a junior and all four members of the 4x200 state championship relay were underclassmen.

10. Western Tech

Coach: Clarissa Higgins

Outlook: Last year’s 1A state champions bring back a strong group capable of going for another title. Last year’s group featured a strong group of underclass sprinters who could rack up a lot of points.

11. Crofton

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Coach: Stacy Severtson

Outlook: The Cardinals finished sixth in 2A with no senior athletes. They have talent spread throughout the lineup, especially in mid-distance and throws. They finished seventh in 3A at this year’s indoor championships.

12. St. Mary’s

Coach: Kyle Hewitt

Outlook: The Saints won this year’s IAAM B Conference outdoor championship by 35 points, with most of their meets being contested outdoors. They are likely to be strong again in the outdoor season.

13. Broadneck

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Coach: Joshua Webster

Outlook: The Bruins finished third at this year’s 4A indoor championships and tied for eighth in 4A at last year’s outdoor championships. Mollie Fenn alone can accumulate a lot of points in distance events.

14. North Harford

Coach: Jimmy Cachola

Outlook: North Harford finished second in 2A last year, three points shy of first. Finley Lavin is the top scorer, having put together a strong showing at last year’s outdoor championships and winning a title at this year’s indoor championships.

15. South Carroll

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Coach: Kaetlin Weinholt

Outlook: The Cavaliers could be a factor in 1A after finishing 16th last year in 2A with a lot of talented underclassmen. They finished fifth in 1A at this year’s indoor championships.

Boys track and field

Athletes to watch

Vaughn DeVaughn III, Mervo, hurdles, senior

DeVaughn won 4A state championships last season in the 110 and 300 hurdles and also placed second in the high jump. He won the 55 hurdles and the high jump at this year’s indoor championships.

Jason Holmes-Williamson, Calvert Hall, hurdles, senior

Holmes-Williamson finished second behind Thomas Smith IV at the MIAA indoor championships. He finished the indoor season with a school and league record and was a contender at indoor nationals until a late slip.

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Judson Lincoln IV, Oakland Mills, sprints, senior

The future Virginia Tech runner collected 10 gold medals during three postseason meets in 2021, including 3A state championships in the 200 and 400. At this year’s indoor championships, Lincoln won the 300 and 500 and was on two championship-winning relays.

Aiden Neal, Manchester Valley, distance, senior

Neal returns after winning a 3A state championship in the 1,600 last year and being a part of the Mavericks’ championship-winning 4x400 team. At this year’s indoor championships, he won the 1,600 and was second in the 800.

Korede Otusajo, Milford Mill, mid-distance, senior

Otusajo was last year’s 2A state champion in the 800 meters and added two indoor state championships in the 500 and 800. He was ranked seventh nationally in the indoor season in the 800 by athletic.net.

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Gavin Shaffer, Dulaney, jumps, senior

Shaffer returns after winning last year’s 4A high jump state title. He also took fourth in the long jump and 300 hurdles. He won 4A indoor state championships in the high jump and 55 hurdles this season.

Thomas Smith IV, Calvert Hall, hurdles, senior

Smith finished second at the New Balance nationals and was third nationally in the indoor season. He also ran on Calvert Hall’s 4x200 team that posted the fastest indoor time in the country.

Donovan Young, Gilman, jumps, senior

Young won MIAA indoor championships in the long jump and triple jump. He also won the triple jump at the New Balance indoor nationals March 13 while finishing ninth in the long jump, and was ninth in the triple jump at the 2021 outdoor nationals.

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Preseason Top 15

1. Calvert Hall

Coach: Pat Hodge

Outlook: The Cardinals feature a lineup that can rival anybody in Maryland — and beyond. Calvert Hall has several athletes capable of scoring in just about every event. Several Cardinals have experience competing at indoor and outdoor nationals.

2. Oakland Mills

Coach: Chris Brewington

Outlook: A loaded roster returns from last year’s 3A state championship team. The Scorpions also ran away with the 2A title at this year’s indoor championships.

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3. Mount Saint Joseph

Coach: Kyle Reagan

Outlook: The Gaels, who finished second to Calvert Hall at the MIAA indoor championships, have several athletes coming off strong performances at indoor nationals.

4. Gilman

Coach: Matt Tully

Outlook: The Greyhounds finished third at the MIAA indoor championships and are poised to continue a proud tradition of strong programs. Gilman, last year’s outdoor champ, features one of the top jumpers in the nation in Donovan Young.

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5. Severna Park

Coach: Josh Alcombright

Outlook: The Falcons tied Howard for second at last year’s 4A state championships with several scorers returning. Severna Park is also coming off a 4A indoor state championship.

6. Howard

Coach: Zach Dickerson

Outlook: Tied for second at last year’s 4A meet, the Lions have enough returners to make another run at a championship this season.

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7. Loyola Blakefield

Coach: Jose Albornoz

Outlook: Several key scorers return to Loyola from last outdoor season, when the Dons hung tough in duals with Mount Saint Joseph and Gilman. They finished fourth at the MIAA indoor championships.

8. Dunbar

Coach: Dale Stalley

Outlook: A good core from last year’s 1A state championship team returns. Senior Aaron Charles won state titles in the 100 and 200 last year.

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9. Manchester Valley

Coach: James McDonald

Outlook: The Mavericks were second in Carroll County and ninth in 3A, but return their entire 4x400 state championship team. They were in the mix for an indoor state championship until the final event, finishing fourth and just a half-point out of second.

10. Milford Mill

Coach: Sharon Johnson

Outlook: The Millers won last year’s 2A state title, but lost a lot of talent from that team. However, they bring back nationally ranked mid-distance runner Korede Otusajo, who won two state titles at this year’s indoor championships.

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11. Old Mill

Coach: Justin Murdoc

Outlook: The Patriots finished fourth at last year’s 4A championships. Angelo Bowser returns after finishing second in the long jump and triple jump, and so does Kamel Winfield after he placed fourth in the 100 and fifth in the 200.

12. Dulaney

Coach: Emily Kachik

Outlook: Dulaney finished ninth in 4A at last year’s championships and returns a strong group including state champion high jumper Gavin Shaffer. Dulaney was second in 4A at this year’s indoor championships.

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13. Pikesville

Coach: Matt Samay

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Outlook: The Panthers finished third in last year’s 1A championship. Kaleb Berhanu won last year’s 1,600 title and was second in the 3,200.

14. Spalding

Coach: Philippe DeRosier

Outlook: The Cavaliers finished fifth at this year’s MIAA indoor championships, where Max Moss was a champion in the high jump. The Cavaliers also had athletes finish top three in the 300, 800 and 4x200 relay.

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15. Liberty

Coach: Brandon Skrant

Outlook: Last year’s Carroll County champions have a strong group returning. The Lions tied for sixth at last year’s 2A meet and again finished sixth at this winter’s 2A indoor championships. Their strength lies in distance and field events, particularly pole vault.


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