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County Championship Poll Results - Girls
By: Ryun Anderson

The county championships take place on Wednesday, and 65 athletes and fans alike recently voted in Mocorunning's pre-meet poll. Here are the results of that poll.

Event Name, School %
55m Dash Taylor Wright, Northwest 59.0
55m Hurdles Alexus Pyles, Clarksburg 81.1
300m Taylor Wright, Northwest 48.6
500m Alyssa Rishell, Watkins Mill 44.4
800m Ciciely Davy, Einstein 26.3
1600m Ciciely Davy, Einstein 36.1
3200m Bethlehem Taye, Paint Branch 54.1
4x200 Northwest 52.8
4x400 Northwest 42.9
4x800 Walter Johnson 50.0
High Jump Alexus Pyles, Clarksburg 41.7
Long Jump Cierra Pyles, Clarksburg 41.7
Triple Jump Alexus Pyles, Clarksburg 51.4
Shot Put Justina Ababio, Clarksburg 45.7
Winning 4x4 Time 4:04.29

Girls Top 5Poll Points
Clarksburg 88
Walter Johnson 49
Paint Branch26
Watkins Mill 16


The chase for the girl's indoor county team title should be one of the best ever this year. Northwest and Clarksburg both have outstanding teams with their own strengths. For Clarksburg, it's Alexus Pyles, one of the most decorated track athletes in Montgomery County history (see below - she has a chance to earn the most individual indoor county titles in girl's county history). She won the vote in the 55 hurdles and could knock off Gwen Shaw's current county meet record of 8.21. She also won the vote in the high jump and triple jump, but she'll be dealing with Northwest girls in both events. Northwest's Stephanie Bateky has the best high jump mark in the county this season at 5'3, and Northwest freshman Taylor Wright has twice out-jumped Pyles in the triple jump.

Alexus' younger sister Cierra Pyles received first place in the fan vote in the long jump, but similarly she will have to deal with a strong Northwest opponent. Leondra Correia leads the county this season in the long jump at 18'0, and she is the reigning county champion in the event (her 18'1 mark last season was 2nd in meet history). Clarksburg's Justina Ababio received 45% of the vote in the girls shot put, an event in which her older sister Claudia holds the meet record. Ababio missed the Montgomery Invitational due to a turned ankle, and as of last week Clarksburg Coach Scott Mathias was unsure how serious the injury was.

Whereas Clarksburg's strength will probably be field events, the Northwest girls will have an edge in the sprints. The aforementioned Taylor Wright leads the county in the 55 dash and 300 by healthy margins this season and could become the third girl in the past four seasons to win both events at the county championships (Gwen Shaw, 2013, and Stephanie Davis, 2015). Northwest could finish 1-2 in the 300, with fellow freshman Cori Brown entering the meet with the second fastest time in Montgomery County. The duo could lead Northwest to victories in the 4x200 and 4x400, although so far this season the Watkins Mill girls look to have the best 4x400 in the county.

One of the legs of that county-leading 4x400, Alyssa Rishell, received first place in the fan voting in the 500. However, right as voting was closed, Damascus freshman Melissa Kameka clocked a county-leading time at the P.G. Invitational. This could turn into an exciting two-girl race for the county title.

This year, the girls distance events probably won't have much of an effect on the team scores, but could produce some of the fastest times in meet history. Einstein's Ciciely Davy has emerged as a bona fide superstar this indoor season, and is at or near the top of the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 leaderboards. She will most likely run at least two of these races at counties and has to be considered a contender in any race she does run. No Einstein girl has ever won an indoor county championship in any of those three events.

Paint Branch's Bethlehem Taye received first place in the voting for the girls 3,200. Her 11:00 at the Southern Maryland Invitational is third in Montgomery County's "Since 2006" indoor leaderboard, trailing Caroline Beakes and Davy, who also ran 11:00 just this past Saturday at the Liberty Flames Invitational. Along with Walter Johnson's Abigail Green who ran 11:04 at a Georgetown Prep practice meet recently, this could easily be the fastest girls 3,200 in meet history - the meet record currently sits at 11:07.


Tracking meet records is always among the most intriguing storylines at a championship meet. Mocorunning's recent investigation into the history of the indoor county championship meet allows us to consider a previously unknown record: the quest for the most career indoor county titles. Kennedy distance runner Kim Many was the original MoCo "queen of indoor," racking up five individual county titles in the early years of the meet in the 80's. Walter Johnson distance runner Sally Glynn topped that total in the mid 90's with 6 indoor county titles (note Glynn was deprived of her senior year indoor county meet due to a snow-out), and a decade later, distance/middle distance runners Halsey Sinclair and Leslie Morrison matched Glynn's title count with 6 each. The long jump and triple jump events were introduced to the indoor county championship in 2005, and Churchill's Audrey Gariepy-Bogui was first to take advantage with seven total indoor county titles (all coming in her final two years of high school). Olivia Ekpone came along and won the 55-meter and 300-meter dashes like clockwork every year for four years to earn 8 individual indoor county titles. Kennedy's Thea LaFond, who shared a graduation year with Ekpone, was not a freshman phenom, but surpassed Ekpone's indoor medal count by the time they graduated thanks to her dominance in hurdles and field events. LaFond's indoor medal count (9) is one greater than that of active Clarksburg athlete Alexus Pyles, whose high school career has very much mirrored that of LaFond. Pyles will finish high school with a minimum of 8 and potentially as many as 12 indoor county titles at the end of the day on Wednesday.

Coincidentally, Thea LaFond will be in the fieldhouse on Wednesday, a witness to whatever Pyles accomplishes during her final indoor county championship meet. Let's not say that LaFond will be "coaching against" Pyles, but it is ironic that the Northwest High School athletes that LaFond coaches are among those who pose the greatest challenge to Pyles' final indoor title quest.


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