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MCPS Meet #2 Recap
By: Kevin Milsted

It was the standard format for the meet formerly known as Developmental Meet #2 with unlimited entries across all events, but this year more people showed up than in the past. The need to obtain qualifying marks for the regional meet has changed indoor track as we know it, and the two December meets designated for MCPS athletes are no longer just practice for developing athletes. Due to the high number of heats and time constraints, the 4x200 and 4x400 relays were scrapped from the schedule mid-meet. There is no regional entry standard for relays, after all.

The meet kicked off with the 4x800 relays and only a handful of teams were entered in the girls race. B-CC ran away with it in a time of 10:19. Approximate splits: Hallie Jester 2:30, Laura Nakasaka 2:31, Angie Petersen 2:39, Caroline Leuba 2:36.

In the boys 4x800, Sherwood's Nick Johnson took a commanding lead on the first leg with a split of 2:01. Quince Orchard's Alborz Fakhari and Blair's Urgy Eado came through in second/third place in 2:05. Sherwood's next leg held onto the lead with a 2:13 split while QO's Michael Borten split 2:12. Evan Burnham ran the third leg for QO and took over the lead after two laps. He split 2:07 to give QO a seven second lead. Joey Sonken brought it home for QO with a 2:15 split and an overall time of 8:39.

Participation in the 4x800 may have been light, but the meet slowed down considerably during the 300's as over 200 runners raced out of 45 heats.

Dee Dee Akpaete of Springbrook ran unchallenged in the final heat for a time of 41.55. Second in that heat in 43.69 was Yamundow Sarr of Northwood who is hoping for a strong comeback this season after running 57.95 in the 400m as a sophomore but struggling with injuries as a junior. Second overall out of a different heat in 43.62 was freshman Dana Eckerstrom from Northwest, younger sister of multiple county and state title holder, Britt Eckerstrom.

There was a little more drama in the boys 300m where we finally saw most of the county's top sprinters in the same heat. Watkins Mill's William Yougnia had a sizable lead coming off the final turn. Whitman's Rio Chiba, who beat Yougnia in the first MCPS meet, was to his right. Clarksburg's Barry Solomon, who in the previous meet ran a fast time out of a different heat, was on the inside. Solomon closed the gap and kicked past Yougnia at the final second to set a new PR of 36.36. Yougnia finished in 36.52 and Chris Gardner of Kennedy on the outside finished in 36.94.

In the girls 1600, Churchill's Lucy Srour took over the lead as the pace slowed on the second lap. She pressed the pace after a 2:42 first half. Caroline Guiot from Whitman chased Srour, but Srour casually increased the pace and eventually won unchallenged in 5:26 with a 38 second final lap.

Zach Weinstein of Churchill strung out the pack early with a 32 second first lap in the boys 1600m. James Ertel of Wootton was the only runner who chased Weinstein. Just prior to a 2:16 first half mile, Ertel took over the lead and led until the final lap. The pace was quickening as Weinstein regained the lead with 200 meters to go. Ertel passed back on the backstretch with 150m to go and kicked home for the win in 4:31. Weinstein was second in 4:33 and back in third place in 4:45 was Paint Branch freshman Lorenzo Neil. Not only was it one of the fastest 1600 times we have seen from a MoCo freshman in recent years, it was the fastest mile by a Paint Branch runner of any grade since 2007.

Wootton's Gwen Shaw and Sylvia Deppen were all over the place during this meet. Each set a new PR in the 55-meter hurdles before running the 500 and trying out a new field event. Shaw clocked 8.59 to win the hurdles and later jumped 4-08 in the high jump. Deppen ran 8.64 and was particularly strong in the 500 with a time of 1:19.71. She went on to win the triple jump in 32-04. Shaw, Deppen, and Casey Dowling accounted for 56 of Wootton's 57 points. Dowling won the long jump with a county-leading jump of 17-07, the strongest she has ever been this early in the season.

Winning the boys 55-meter hurdle race for the second consecutive meet was Javier Nieto from Magruder. His time of 8.20 put him 0.40 seconds ahead of the next fastest runner. Seneca Valley's Darius Lewis did not run in the hurdles this week, but the first meet showed that Nieto has the speed to run with anyone in the county this year. He ran outdoor track for the last three years, but according to Coach Timm was not invested in the sport and did not even finish the season last year. This is his first season of indoor track and he is showing a renewed focus.

The girls 55-meter dash was all about Bethany White and her hard drive to the finish line. She won in 7.36.

The boys 55-meter saw the emergence of Stephen Ucheomumu from Einstein. Ucheomumu got out of the blocks well and held off some of the "better known" sprinters with a time of 6.66. He shares a name with one of the county's best jumpers and throwers, Anna Ucheomumu, and he is also the brother of former 100-meter state champion, Bisi Ezekoye.

It was already mentioned that Deppen and Shaw ran well in the 500, but the champion of this meet was once again Springbrook's Dee Dee Akpaete. In her third race of the day, she won the final heat by over five seconds in a time of 1:18.73. Only Deppen clocked a time within one second of Akpaete, but they were in separate heats.

Churchill senior Will Conway clocked 1:10 as a freshman in the 500, but has since found more success in events 800 meters and up. In his first 500-meter race since his freshman year, he got out hard and pushed the pace. Blake's Darius Oxley, who has been in the mix in every 500-meter race this season, moved up on Conway after the first lap. Conway responded and held off Oxley, but moving up on the final curve was Paint Branch's Malik Keels. Keels charged into first place down the final straightaway to win in a big personal best time of 1:08.34. Conway also set a PR at 1:08.41 and Oxley finished third in 1:09.68.

Whitman's Caroline Guiot ran the girls 3200-meter race like a metronome. Her first three half-miles were in 2:58, 2:58, and 3:00. As she held that steady pace, the chase pack slowly dropped off one-by-one. She picked it up slightly in the final half mile to create a gap on Clarksburg's Jacqui Young. Guiot's final 800m was in 2:54 for an overall time of 11:50 while Young sprinted home to dip under 12:00 for the first time in 11:59.

The boys 3200m was another battle between Whitman and Clarksburg early on, but it was Clarksburg's Will Bertrand who ran the race like a metronome. Whitman's Nick Adams led through 800m in 2:27 and 1000m in 3:06, but Bertrand took over the lead after 1000m and clocked every lap in 38 or 39 seconds until the final lap which he ran in 32 seconds for an overall time of 9:59. Meanwhile, QO's Evan Burnham worked his way past Adams with three laps to go and took second place in 10:14.

With the 4x200 and 4x400 relays canceled due to time contstraints, only the 800-meter remained after the 3200m.

Elena De La Paz of RM and Julia Shapiro of QO were probably two of the most experienced 800m runners in the field and led early with a 35 second first lap. Freshman Lucy Srour, coming off a win in the 1600m, went into the lead on the second lap for a 72 second 400-meter split. Clarksburg's Abbey Daley, a pure distance specialist who raced the 300, 500, and 800 today, charged into the lead on the final lap. Srour followed and then regained the lead with a hard kick in the final straightaway. Srour won in 2:28.04 over Daley in 2:28.73 and another freshman, Northwest's Gaby Go in 2:31.34.

The last race of the day was all Will Conway as he ran away from the field with splits of 30, 61, 92, 2:03.13. Paint Branch's Devin Daniel held onto second place until Zach Weinstein passed him on the final lap to finish in 2:07.78. Daniel PR'd with a time of 2:08.49, and a third Churchill runner finished fourth, freshman David Fitzgerald in 2:10.04, one of the fastest indoor 800-meter times by a MoCo freshman in the last decade.

The most surprising result out of the field events was Quince Orchard senior Sierra Isaac joining an elite crowd by clearing 5-04 in the high jump.


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