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Montgomery Invitational Highlights
By: Kevin Milsted

Athletes from Montgomery County teams broke three meet records at the 2016 Montgomery Invitational. Masai Russell of Bullis broke the meet record in the 500-meter dash with an all-time Montgomery County record of 1:13.72. Shyheim Wright of Northwest High School twice broke the meet record in the 55-Meter Hurdles with a time of 7.41 in the preliminaries and a time of 7.39 in the finals. The Bullis girls teamed up without Masai Russell to win the 4x400-meter relay in 3:56.68.

Perhaps most impressive about Russell's 500-meter performance is the fact that she is running in pain and could not complete a track workout in the week leading up to the Montgomery Invitational. She has been dealing with patellar tendinitis since last year. The ailment flared up in the last two months and she says that this past month has been "really kind of bad."

"I was getting really nervous about running. I wasn't sure if I was even going to be able to run," said Russell. "I was really heartbroken that I didn't get to work out on the track this week."

When asked what she has been doing to stay strong, she described her training regimen that she follows when she cannot run.

"I've just been doing pool and bike workouts and I was hoping that those workouts were actually going to work towards this event this week and it clearly did...Most of the time it's an hour, hour-and-a-half, sometimes even two because it's a lot of reps of everything. Most of the time we do 15 'running down the pool' and swim back. The pool is 50 meters and running in the pool takes pretty long... It's a long process but it's really worth it."

Bullis head coach Joe Lee said the tendinitis is the reason that Russell did not run on the 4x400-meter relay at the end of the meet.

Lee explained, "One of the things we say is, 'The individual event belongs to the person. The relay belongs to the team.' Nobody has any right or claim to relay spots. The great part I love about it is the kids interchange and everybody is ready to go at a beckon call."

Coach Lee has a particular philosophy with his team that explains why we have only seen Bullis in small doses to this point in the season. They have not loaded up a girls 4x200m relay yet, which will inevitably be a performance that ranks among the national leaders when they decide to go after it. They have not been to many meets and frankly the athletes have rarely competed in more than two events at the meets they have gone to.

"We're very big on training and learning how to run and executing. That's our biggest priority versus just running a lot of meets and putting kids in a lot of events early," said Lee. "...It's a long season. We'll be going all the way through June and in some cases July."

Shyheim Wright of Northwest High School is a national class athlete who last year established himself as Montgomery County's all- time greatest indoor hurdler when he clocked a performance of 7.27 at the indoor state championship meet. Yesterday, Wright clocked consecutive meet records with consistent times of 7.41 and 7.39 in the preliminaries and finals respectively. A unique factor about this meet that will probably not occur again in any other meet is that Wright ran on the 4x200-meter relay prior to racing the hurdles which he said warmed him up as opposed to tiring him out.

"I think my performances were great," Wright said. "I knew coming into this race that I wasn't really running the times that I was pleased with and I knew that the biggest part of my race was the start. So working up to the meet, Blood [Head Coach Robert Youngblood] was working with me on my start and I think that was the driving force with me having a good time."

On his progress this season as he drives towards counties, states, and presumably nationals, Wright said that he is where he wants to be.

"I think that as you progress during the season, you find a peak and I don't think I found my peak yet. I think that this is just a good building block to start with and just going back and looking at the film I know what I have to do."

Wright has a healthy attitude towards track records and is aware of the 7.2 hand-timed 55-meter hurdle performance which is the oldest meet record at the Montgomery County indoor track championship meet coming up in ten days. Using a standard conversion, a time of 7.44 or better with fully automatic timing would be enough to break that county meet record.

"I look at the records all the time just trying to see if I can be up there with the greats that have been running in MoCo and the state. So 7.44 is something I'll be aiming for at the county championships."

Wright was just one of many Northwest High School athletes seen all over the fieldhouse on Friday. Josh Netterville finished second in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.57 (6.56q). Taylor Wright won the triple with a mark of 39-02.50 and recorded a 55- meter time of 7.25. The Northwest boys team won the 4x200 (1:32.15), 4x800 (8:16.98), and distance medley relays (10:54.86). Head Coach Robert Youngblood offered some insight on some of his athletes.

"I told our senior guys, 'I'm going to give you all a chance to do something fun in the 4-by-2,'" said Youngblood. "I have three seniors...and I threw in Josh who is a junior and they went out and had fun running the 4-by-2."

"Josh [Netterville] is a baseball player and just signed with ECU and he's only a junior. So that is his first sport, but he wants everything. He's going to put everything he has to help us win the state title...counties."

On Taylor Wright, who has no relation to Shyheim Wright, Youngblood said that it appeared as if someone false started in the 55- meter finals but the race was not called back which explains why she hesitated and only ran 7.44 in the finals. He said that her power for the short sprint comes from her newly started training for the triple jump and the fact that she's a dancer.

"She invited me to her dance...she dances for some dance thing out in Frederick...and she's incredible! That girl has talent. That's why I told Thea [Thea LaFond], my assistant coach, 'we're going to develop her into a jumper.'"

Youngblood described some in-competition corrections that led to her monster jump of 39-02.50, which was less than two inches off the meet record.

"I said, 'Look, you're giving us no knee drive on that second [phase].' And that's the biggest thing for her power is to bring her knees up. She pulled up her knee on the second one and all of a sudden she's right near the pit jumping into her final phase: 39- 2. She's special."

The jumps will definitely be a battleground where the team standings are made at the upcoming county championship meet. Northwest athlete Stephanie Bateky jumped 5-02 to take second place in the high jump and Leondra Correia jumped 18 feet to take second place in the long jump. Meanwhile, Cierra Pyles of Clarksburg has the potential to score big in the jumps while the experienced Alexus Pyles of Clarksburg could take the triple jump, high jump, or any event she competes in. Keila Robertson of Magruder, who finished 6th and 4th at the Montgomery Invitational, could take long and triple jump titles at the county meet on a good day.

The two-time defending indoor county champion Clarksburg girls are fully expected to once again go to battle with Northwest at the upcoming county championship meet. Head coach Scott Mathias knows it.

"On the girls side, Northwest has a really, really strong team...Paint Branch has a strong team," said Mathias. "...This [Montgomery Invitational] is one of our last chances to figure out where we're going to put people...who's going to be where...and it's one of the last times to tweak before we get to counties."

On Alexus Pyles, who won the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.24 (8.23q), Mathias said that he thought she was running fastest than she ever had which actually made her come up on a hurdle quicker than she expected and hit it.

"In the hurdles, she's consistent. She's rock solid. You're going to get a great performance. Sometimes it's not a lifetime best but you know you are going to get a great performance because that's the way she is. She's so versatile...she is in a really good spot right now to get where she wants to be. Of course she always wants to win but she also has performance goals."

#1 Montgomery County Performances at 2016 Montgomery Invitational
Compiled by Ryun Anderson




Josh Netterville (Northwest): 6.56


Taylor Wright (Northwest): 7.25

Schezarone Carter (W. Mill): 36.25


Cori Brown (Northwest): 41.72

Jacari Ramsey (Springbrook) 1:08.94


Masai Russell (Bullis): 1:13.72

Kevin O'Leary (W. Johnson) 2:02.77


Mia Gyau (Bullis): 2:25.90

Liam Walsh (Q. Orchard): 4:28.88 (mile)


Abbey Green (W. Johnson): 5:18.63 (mile)

Jack Wavering (Good Counsel): 9:30.23


Maya Jacobson (Q. Orchard): 11:27.69

Shyheim Wright (Northwest): 7.39

55 Hurdles

Alexus Pyles (Clarksburg): 8.23

Northwest: 1:32.15


Northwest: 1:46.93

Good Counsel: 3:29.31


Bullis: 3:56.68

Northwest: 8:16.98


W. Churchill: 10:07.23

Northwest: 10:54.86


P. Branch: 12:40.73

Osajele Ikheloa (Sherwood): 44'2

Shot Put

Caelin Broder (Good Counsel): 29'0

Gregory D'Elia (Q. Orchard): 6'2

High Jump

Stephanie Bateky (Northwest): 5'2

Austin Allen (Bullis) 21-06

Long Jump

Leondra Correia (Northwest): 18'0

Donavan Beckett-Simms (S. Valley) 44'3.50

Triple Jump

Taylor Wright (Northwest) 39-02.50

Chris Spiess (Clarksburg): 12'0

Pole Vault

Paige Evans (Clarksburg): 9'0


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