It's the time of the year for the most competitive track meet of the regular season hosted at the Prince Georges Sports and Learning Center - the "Border War" of indoor track - The Montgomery Invitational 2008. The best athletes from Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and several other states come together to put forth their best efforts against the best competition prior to their respective local championship meets. With this being mocorunning.com, this preview will focus on how Montgomery County competitors are expected to fare in what should be a great sneak preview for the Montgomery County Championship Meet ten days later. Who has what it takes to be a top finisher, or better yet, win an event? Does any Montgomery County athlete have what it takes to set a meet record, which, in almost all cases would be much more prestigious than setting a county championship record? Read on to learn about the Montgomery County athletes to watch for in this year's meet.
The Montgomery County boys have a chance to do very well in the 55-meter dash. Avery Graham of Clarksburg looked like MoCo's fastest man before he blew a wheel in a 300-meter dash last week. With his health in question, Graham may sit out this week. Jonathan Haughton of Blair and Gary Frazier of Richard Montgomery have also looked strong so far, although have yet to record an automatically timed race. I've also got my eye on the IAC 100 and 200-meter champion from Georgetown Prep Brandon Tisdale.
My pick for this event has to be Lamaar Thomas of Friendly. All the talk in Maryland has surrounded Westlake's Devon Smith and Meade's Justin Murdock, but we can't forget this highly recruited football star who is committed to Ohio State and also happens to be an All-American in the 100-meter dash.
In the girls' 55-meter dash, the MoCo favorites to make it to the finals have to be Katie Wolf of Churchill and Simone Harris of Gaithersburg. The two girls return with the top 2 55-meter times this season. Both ran 7.64 in their only invitationals this season, which is not bad, but can definitely be improved upon. I'm also watching for the lesser-known Karissa Harris of Poolesville and Alix Dyer of the French International School to fly through the preliminaries.
The girls 55-meter dash is loaded with all of the stars from last week's Southern Maryland meet with the addition of Virginia's speedy Brittni Finch. With Finch, Krystin Lawson, Tanisha Wells-Owen, Amanda Kimbers, Alyssa McClure and MD's top hurdler Kristin Brown, a spot in the finals will be very difficult to earn.
The boys 400-meter dash is not the most loaded event of the meet and we probably won't see anywhere near the caliber performance that we saw from Sean Holston last year, but there is a great deal of depth in this field. The top Montgomery County runner could come out of any heat from the first and "slowest" heat with Antonio Palmer of Gaithersburg, all the way down to the final and "fastest" heat with Brendan Etzel of RM and Louis Varella of Blair. The very fastest Montgomery County finisher is very tough to call with Varella, Powell of Northwood, Daughtry of Clarksburg, and Jones of Paint Branch all running so close all season and Etzel, Palmer, and South of Paint Branch barely running anything yet. The defending IAC 400-meter champ Joseph Woiwode from Georgetown Prep will also be in the mix. However things work out, we should see several exciting heats and the question of Montgomery County's top long sprinter (outside of defending 500-meter champion Wil Zahorodny) should be answered after this event.
There doesn't seem to be anyone out of reach from the MoCo runners in this one. Ryan Carter of Glasgow set the Howard County Winter Trackfest meet record in the 200 earlier this season. Micheal Sesay of Eleanor Roosevelt has gone sub-50 and appears to be the next top sprinter from the prolific Blazin Raiders squad. Brice Mathews of Potomac School has gone sub-50 on multiple occasions during outdoor track, but all and all, Montgomery County should be right in the mix in this event.
Like the boys, the top Moco girls are spread across several heats. Alissa Jewell of Gaithersburg will be matched against Alix Dyer of the French International School, both of which are capable of winning that heat. Following that heat, we will see WJ's Renee McClinton and B-CC's Hannah Richardson. The final two heats will get intense and will feature two of MoCo's finest sprinters in separate heats: Arielle Statham of Paint Branch and Katie Wolf of Churchill. Statham has already beaten Wolf this year and holds the county's top times in the 200, 300, and 400 so far. She has to be the MoCo favorite heading in, but we will see if she can hang on after six meets so far this season as opposed to Wolf's one.
This should be a good one between Maryland's best in Kellie Christian of Catonsville and one of Virginia's best in Bethany Hyter of Osbourne Park. Both have very strong resumes and have started off the indoor season hot. Hyter won the 300 at last week's Southern Maryland meet in a VA state best 40.94, while Christian has run an equally impressive 200 in 24.90 at the Hispanic Games after posting PR's of 54.95 and 24.72 at last year's outdoor state meet.
Defending County Champion Tyler Jackson still appears to be a cut above the rest through the first few developmental meets, but the rest of the county is rapidly catching up. Petros Bein of Clarksburg and Caleb Malone of QO have good chances of making it out of the preliminaries. Sam Weeks of Damascus should post a good time but is in a tough heat. Jackson is still the man to beat for MoCo supremacy.
Not only could Jackson come out with the top MoCo time, he's got a chance at winning this event. Others to watch out for will be Vincent Brown from South Lakes in VA, Jermol Dix of Western STES, and former Poolesville runner Jackson Jordan of Mt. Hebron. Those three have all posted FAT times well under 8 seconds this year. Surprisingly, one of Maryland's top hurdlers Ernest Cooper is opting to sprint but not hurdle in this meet, which bodes even better for Jackson who was beaten by Cooper at last year's outdoor state championship meet in the 110 hurdles.
All of MoCo's top female hurdlers will be running in this meet, which will give us a great view of where everyone stands. Poolesville's Olivia Durr has looked the best in the developmentals and should make it through the prelims. Only one Zyzak sister is likely to make it out of the prelims with the two Damascus sisters pinned against each other in heat 4. Monica Gerald of Blake and Elana Diestel of Magruder should put up good times, but will be racing in tough heats.
The girls' hurdles race will be an outstanding match up between Maryland's best and Virginia's best. Kristin Brown of McDonogh edged out Christina Manning in 8.20 in a great race last weekend. This week, Brown will face Charisse Bryant of Green Run who is the top returning hurdler in Virginia this year with a state leading 8.23 in her first meet. Brittany Hyter of Osbourne Park and Shantae Boney of Largo should slide right through to the finals, but we can expect a great race between Brown and Bryant in the finals.
The boys' 800-meter run will feature several athletes who have run under 2:00 in the past, but have not shown very much this season. Antonio Palmer of Gaithersburg has as good of a resume as anyone after running 1:54 during 2007 summer track and building his stamina during cross country season. Other moco athletes who are very capable of breaking 2:00 in the fast heat are Giovanni Reumante of Northwood and Wil Zahorodny of Damascus. Zahorodny took down Palmer in a 500 last week so we will see if history repeats itself in a slightly longer race.
The MoCo runners have as good of a chance of winning this race as anyone in the field, but this field of sub-2:00 half milers is one of the more unpredictable races of the meet. The WCAC could boast the winner of this race between Gonzaga's Carter Ward and Dematha's pair of Foster and Rogers. The wildcard here will be Bernard Goodwyn of Glasgow who is one of the top 400-meter runners in the nation. Goodwyn doesn't seem to be very experienced in the 800.
Montgomery County has not seen very many fast 800's on the girls' side yet. This will be Leslie Morrison's first serious race of the season and the defending outdoor state champ brings the strongest resume to a field full of sub-2:20 girls. Her top competition may come from two Virginians, Erika Weidman of TC Williams and Brittany Wilhelm of Brook Point, both of whom have run 2:17. As far as other MoCo athletes, I'm watching out for Hannah Richardson of B-CC to put up a good time out of section 4 after strong performances in the first two meets this season.
Two MoCo runners will run in the invitational 3200-meter race. Brian Graves of Walter Johnson is coming off of a breakthrough performance at last week's Southern Maryland Meet where he won in a 25 second personal best 9:45. He, along with QO's Artem Panasenkov, will be looking to establish themselves among the top 3200 runners in Montgomery County with strong performances here.
The boys' 3200 will feature several runners who have posted times under 10 minutes, but Thomas Porter of Mountain View and Marc Dennin of Boyertown should be in a class of their own. Both athletes qualified individually for the Footlocker Cross Country National Championship in December. Dennin finished 13th overall after winning the PA individual state title. Porter was the Virginia cross country state runner up, and the Washington Post All-Met runner of the year. Both runners have nearly the same exact 3200 PR of 9:19 and could push for the meet record of 9:13 in the first meet of their indoor seasons. Dennin will be less rested since he will be running the elite mile earlier in the day.
Six of the nineteen girls in the 3200 race are from Montgomery County. They should all represent like they always do with multiple finishers under 12:00. The favorite from the MoCo standpoint is Louise Hannallah of Churchill, who is the defending 3200 county champ and coming off an All-Met cross country season. Hannallah looked good running 11:29 by herself in the Howard County Winter Trackfest in December. Also looking good so far has been Debbie Isen of Whitman who won the 3200 at both developmental meets, and Alex Giedd of Churchill who has stepped up to run with some of the best in the state since cross country season.
Meghan Lutz of Nazareth Academy will be coming down from Pennsylvania to run her first 3200 of the season. Lutz ended last year's outdoor campaign with a 10:58 PR in the 3200, which believe it or not, only placed her 6th in the state. Lutz looks to be in top shape this year after posting a time of 10:23 in the 3000-meter run at the Hispanic Games last week. Hannallah will be a top competitor in this event; however, she will be running the invitational mile earlier in the meet. Kaylen Comer of Colonial Forge along with Stephanie Bray of James Robinson both ran 11:09 outdoors last year.
By Tom Rogers
is, without question, the finest boys mile field ever assembled for the
Montgomery Invitational.It has all
the elements needed to produce an unforgettable race – speed,
strength,and experience.The large field boastseight runners who have personal records
of 4:20 or better. Last year, two athletes from this race were invited to
compete in the millrose games, with runner-up Jason weller of Boyertown, PA
becoming the millrose HS mile champion. Could this race produce three invitees
this year? Another millrose champion perhaps?No matter what, it will certainlyprovide each runner an opportunity to be
part of a great race.
T JHOBART, Baldwin, PA -This young runner from Pittsburgh
holds aPR of 4:12.30 as a
sophomore and leads the pack of those who are looking for an invitation to new York..
PETE DORRELL, Blacksburg, VA -anyone who witnessed Dorrell’s
blistering performance at VA Tech last year knows that this miler is all
business . . . and with a PR of 4:15.74, he’ll definitely be looking for
a ticket to the big dance.
LOGAN COLLINS, Orange County, VA – Collins
could well be the big gun in this race. Although he has recently been flying
under the radar, he has already posted a 4:17.6 during this indoor season.
CHRIS MOEN, Walter
– the defending Montgomery
invitational. Champion and meet record holder - 4:17.33, had a disappointing
outdoor season last year, but he rebounded with a strong finish in cross
country and is off to a fast start indoors. You can never count out his
MARK DENNIN, Boyertown,
PA – Dennin is the PennsylvaniaState cross county champion, was
second at FootlockerNE and 12th at Nationals.With a 9:19 2-mile PR last year, this
amazing runner will seek to destroy his 4:24 mile PR and join his teammate from
last year as a millrose qualifier.
JOEY THOMPSON, Howard, MD –
state champion, Thompson hasPR’s of 4:17 and 9:19 and is coming off of a great Cross Country
season. This tall, lanky runner has deceptive speed and is more than ready for
a big breakout race indoors.
Country all-met selectionsJOE
LORUSSO, Oakton, VA (4:16.43),
Another local favorite to watch is BRAD
KENIMER, TC Williams, VA (4:17.83).
By Tom Rogers
While this year’s field for the
Girls mile is not as deep as that of the Boys mile,it nonetheless promises an exciting,
talent-packed race.This solid
field is fairly evenly divided between Maryland
runners and it is highlighted by over half of the All-Met Cross Country
team.This combination of
seasoned veterans and speedy newcomers promises topush this race to a meet record and provides
each athlete with a shot at the prestigious millrose mile.
MORGANE GAY, Whitman, MD –
Morgane holds the best PR of this group at 4:52 and is coming off her best
Cross Country season ever.Her smooth flowing stride belies her tremendous speed and tenacity --
she will certainly have her sights set on a trip to NY.
LIA DiVALENTIN, Chantilly, VA – Lia
was the all-met runner of the year in Cross Country and her 5:00 PR will
certainly put her in the mix with any competitor in this race.this race could provide the
impetus for her to achieve her first sub-5 minute mile.
TESHIKA RIVERS, E. Roosevelt,
– Teshika, one of the thoroughbreds in the Eleanor Roosevelt stables, won
an incredibly tough MD State 4a Cross Country championship.She is versatile,she is strong, she is fast and she is
more than ready for a very big race!
ARIEL KARABINUS, Osbourn Park,
VAand LOUISE HANNALLAH,
Churchill, MD – These two all-met Cross Country runners really came
into their own during the fall and they aren’t letting off the gas during
the indoor track season .Both
possess5:08 PR’s and they
are tough competitors at any distance.
AMIRAH JOHNSON, E. Roosevelt,
and ALEX DOLL, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, MD – This duo
brings a bit of mystery and the excitement of the unknown to the girls mile
field.Johnson ran a 2:15 800m last
year -- as an 8th grader -- and is now in the fold at Eleanor
Roosevelt, while Doll ran 5:11 last week – in practice!
Wesley and Carlton Lavong of Methacton in PA are going to put on a show in the field events. Wesley had a monster PR in the shot put earlier this year with a throw of 58-07 at the Bishop Loughlin Games. He leads a field that features 8 boys over 50 feet including the local favorite, Sean Stanley of Gaithersburg, who threw over 55 feet in the summer after his sophomore year. Carlton Lavong jumped 23-01.50 in the long jump during summer track last year and will be considered the favorite over a field of multiple athletes who have jumped over 22 feet. Carlton will also be in the triple jump but will not be the favorite because he will be up against 2 guys over 47 feet. Olu Olamigoke jumped 48-10 at last year's Milestat Elite Track Gala, and just this year Woodlawn's Corey Fuller had a breakthrough jump of 47-02.50 at the UMES Lid Lifter Meet. Jeremy Snyder of Riverbend High School in VA has high jumped over 6-06 on multiple occaisions with a personal best of 6-08 last year. From the looks of it, we will definitely see some of these long-standing records go down in the jumps, and potentially even the shot put.
Brieanna Kennedy of Caravel in Deleware is the top thrower in a deep field. Kennedy has thrown 40-11, which seems to be over 3 feet further than any other competitor. Montgomery County's defending champ Arleigh Rose will be right in the mix with the rest of the field in the mid-to-upper 30's. There is a good chance of the high jump, long jump, and triple jump meet records going down. Between Shaunte Boney of Largo, Saniel Atkinson of McNamara, and Pearl Bickersteth of Potomac, the three have already matched or exceeded the meet record of 5-06. The girls' triple jump is absolutely loaded with 7 girls over 37 feet. The top seed is Michelle Newman of Eastern Tech who cleared 40 feet last outdoor season. Brittni Finch will also be a top competitor in the triple jump but should truly put on a show in the long jump where she has come within 2 inches of clearing 20 feet.