Area's top athletes prepare for outdoor track and field season by testing themselves indoors
By Ryan Morse
For The Baltimore Sun|
Mar 19, 2018 at 5:00 AM
Most track and field athletes will tell you that the indoor season is merely a dress rehearsal for when meets head outdoors in the spring.
Indoor performances can often foreshadow outdoor success and provide athletes the confidence needed for a big season.
Some of the biggest performances from area athletes came indoors after the state championships, as several athletes competed in meets outside of the normal playoff schedule hoping to gain a competitive advantage.
No athlete in the area showed the importance of a strong finish better than Broadneck’s Elian Ahmar.
In shot put at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York City, Ahmar threw 3 feet better than he did at the state meet, throwing 59 feet, 10½ inches to win the Emerging Elite section. Ahmar’s throw was 4 feet better than any other athlete’s in the state this year and was a major confidence boost after an injury riddled season.
"I think the New Balance meet was a terrific confidence boost,” Broadneck coach Andrew Villwock said. “Elian had been battling a hand injury and I could see through the championship season that he was less than 100 percent. I know he had the school record and qualifying for national meets in the back of his mind, so getting that big throw, the one that broke the New Balance meet and BHS school record, should take that pressure off and allow him to go into the outdoor season with a different mindset.
“My hope for him is that with more confidence, he'll be able to compete with a much quieter mental landscape. Once he gets out of his head and just throws for the pure joy of throwing, I expect even more records will fall along the way."
Another fellow Bruin, senior Olivia Janke, come on late at during the indoor season, finishing 13th in the country in the 5,000 meters at the New Balance meet with a time of 17 minutes, 57.13 seconds. Janke looks to challenge Walter Johnson’s Abigail Green in the 2-mile outdoors.
Franklin’s Nyjari McNeil, one of the best female athletes in the area, had two of her best performances of the season at meets outside the usual section. McNeil ran a 1:12.39 in the 500 at the Virginia Showcase and a 2:11.80 in the 800 to finish 10th at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
McDonogh’s Jada Seaman ran the best 55-dash time in the area at the Private & Independent School Invitational on Feb. 3. The best 3200 time of the season also came at that meet when Mount Saint Joseph’s Hunter Petrik finished in 9:34.32. Petrik, who looks primed for a great outdoor Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association season in the distance races, also ran a 4:21.60 at the New Balance meet, finishing just outside the top ten in the Emerging Elite.
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Milford Mill’s Aariq Nixon, a state champion indoors in the 500, capped his winter with a personal-best 49.35 in the 400 to place sixth at the New Balance Indoor Nationals Emerging Elite race, the best finish in the state.
C. Milton Wright’s Jessica Rogers had her best performance of the winter at the U.S. Army’s Hispanic Games, setting a personal best in the 1500 with a time of 4:54.48 to finish fifth. Severna Park’s Emily Knight ran a personal-best 58.51 in the 400 at the Hispanic Games and looks to add more state titles to the pair she won during the indoor season.
Northeast-AA’s Davon Carroll, a Class 3A state champion outdoors last season in the 200 and a two-time indoor state champion, winning the 55 dash and the 300 titles, also ran at the New Balance Indoor National meet. Though he didn’t have the success he desired, not reaching the top 10 in the 60 dash or 200, the competition will drive him towards his goal of capturing a fourth and fifth state title this outdoor season.
“The expectations for last year and the previous year, even though it’s a success in a lot of ways, it wasn't a total success because of downfalls of what he didn't achieve,” Northeast coach Shawn Lightfoot said of Carroll. “He just let that momentum build and build and build and he recognized that this was his senior year, so he didn’t want to have any ill feelings about walking away from this season.”
In rare occurrences, track loses one of it’s best performers because of a team sport in the spring. Annapolis’ Anna Coffin, who ran one of the best 1600 times in the area, will step off the track and onto the lacrosse field this spring.
Most of the athletes from the indoor season, particularly seniors such as Carroll, will be chasing one final shot at glory on the high school track and can thank their strong indoor performances as the reason they headed into outdoor with a full head of steam.