Last year, Moco boys won nine of eighteen state titles in the 4A classification. This year, I’d say they could win about six or seven, but let’s take it one event at a time.
No event is more of a sure bet for a Moco victory than the boys 4x800. Walter Johnson, Richard Montgomery, and Churchill all ran under 7:56 at the 4A West Region Meet. Richard Montgomery won indoors while WJ’s Sean O’Leary rested for the 1600, but expect O’Leary to participate and WJ to win. The defending outdoor state champs from CH Flowers are the next closest with a seed of 8:02. Sherwood, Wootton, and Northwest all have top 12 seed times under 8:10.
Paint Branch’s Reggie Steele turned into a sprint star overnight with his double win in the 100 and 200 at the Montgomery County Championship Meet. His time of 21.75 was the second fastest by an MCPS athlete in the last decade. He backed up that performance with a 10.84 100-meter dash after two preliminary rounds in the 4A West Region Meet. The time is tied for the second fastest by an MCPS athlete in the last decade. Steele, who struggled with an injury since the indoor track season, now enters the state meet with the top 4A seed times in the 100 and 200. He will also probably run on the 4x100 and 4x400 relays like he did at regionals.
There will be no teams from Montgomery County that challenge Thomas Johnson for the 4A team title this year, but Gaithersburg’s Trevon Carroll may be able to offer some competition to TJ’s star hurdler Marquis Woodyard. Carroll finished second behind Woodyard in the 55-hurdles at the indoor state meet and has come a long way since then. Carroll’s county- winning time of 14.52 is the fastest by a county athlete since 2005; however, Woodyard has run under 14.50 multiple times this year and last year so there is no doubt that he is the athlete to beat.
Alimamy Kallay of Gaithersburg was the 4A West 300-meter hurdles champ in 40.28, but there are several guys under 40 seconds including Woodyard.
Last year, Hassan Dixon helped his team win the 4x400 state title with a magnificent run of 3:18.98. This year Dixon is flying solo. No relays. No jumps. No 100 or 200. Just the 400. It will be the last 50 seconds of a great four year high school career. Dixon said there will be no more youth track for him as he spends the summer preparing for boot camp with the US Naval Academy. He ran 48.72 earlier in the year and only 49.50 at regionals, but it looked like he eased up at the end of the race. Brian David of Wise is the only other athlete in the field to run under 49 seconds this year.
As good as the 4A West was in the open 800 with 6 qualifiers, none of the Moco runners ran a time that would place in the top 6 based on seed times from other regions. All that means is whether the athletes are in the first heat or second heat, they will be in a competitive race. The county champ Josh Ellis and the region champ Martin Dally, as well as Sei Masuoka of Churchill should be relatively fresh on the second day and capable of going after Charles Bolinger of Eleanor Roosevelt who ran 1:55.75 in his region.
After winning the 1600 state title indoors and winning the 4A West Region last week, winning the outdoor state title should not be much more difficult for Walter Johnson’s Sean O’Leary. The bad news is it will still be pretty darn difficult. O’Leary’s region time of 4:21.57 leads the field, but there are literally a dozen runners right behind him (four from the 4A West) who have run under 4:30 this year.
Andrew Palmer of Whitman employed two very different strategies when running the 3200 at the Montgomery County championship versus running at the 4A West region championship. The result in both races was the same: a sub-9:30 victory. After bypassing the indoor season and remaining relatively quiet this outdoor season, it appears that he is still a cut above the rest. The six additional qualifiers from the 4A West can only hope that Palmer may be tired from racing a personal best 4:17 mile in a club meet three days after his regional win in the 3200.
A combination of Blair, Richard Montgomery, and Paint Branch send the top relay teams out of the 4A West, although none are favored to win a title.
There are no Moco favorites in the jumps or throws, although Sheldon Trotman of Northwest has been jumping well. Like Dixon, he will surely be looking to go out on top. The Wootton boys are skipping out on the shot put because of prom, but Nnamdi Edokobi of RM is coming off a throw of 47-05.75 at regionals. Edokobi only threw 116-11 in the discus at regionals and ended up in the first flight at states, but he is capable of better. Nate Baruch of Wootton will join the discus competition on Saturday.