Did the Northwest track & field team graduate one of Montgomery
County's all-time greatest athletes, Diego Zarate, and improve as a team?
The answer remains to be seen.
This year's Northwest team scored 140 points at the indoor county championship meet. That is 24 more points than last year's
record-breaking team. But while MoCo track fans love the county championship meet, there is no question that the state
championship meet remains the stage for determining the answer to such debates.
"We know what CH Flowers and Oxon Hill has out there," said Northwest head coach Robert Youngblood. "And they're the teams to
beat. We know that."
While Youngblood and the Northwest boys were thrilled with winning the team county title, their sights are set on defending their
indoor state title, a task that won't be possible unless they get all the right pieces into the state meet via the regional meet
in two weeks.
"The thing I was looking for was more complete results because heading into the bigger ones...regionals and states...hopefully we
get enough pieces into states and we should be able to give them a good battle."
Shyheim Wright is not among Coach Youngblood's concerns at this point as
Wright seems to be as much of a sure bet in MoCo as there ever has been. Wright clocked 7.44 in the 55m hurdles which is the
fastest automatically timed performance ever at the county championship meet. Was it a meet record? Mocorunning contends that it
should be considered a meet record. The official meet record is a hand-timed 7.2, and using a standard conversion, 7.2 is
equivalent to 7.44 with automatic timing. Mocorunning is told that coaches will have conversations to assess how to handle the
county meet records with respects to hand-timing versus automatic timing.
According to Youngblood, the dependable Wright was caught off guard in the 300 meter dash when teammate Josh Netterville sprinted
past him for the win in 35.64, tying the #6 all-time performance in meet history. Nathan Phillips of Blake and Wright tied the #13
all-time performance at the county meet with a time of 35.82 (Phillips edged out Wright based on the computer timed photo finish).
In the 55 meter dash, Netterville, who also finished second in the long
jump, was caught off guard. 78% of Mocorunning fans picked Netterville to win the 55m dash and indeed he had the strongest resume
entering the meet with a personal best of 6.53. J'Sean Williams of Seneca Valley had a personal best of 6.68 and Mocorunning fans
voted accordingly with only 4% of fans picking Williams to win the event. Williams pulled the upset of the meet with a time of
6.50, which ties for fifth fastest in meet history.
The boys 500 meter was dubbed by Mocorunning's Ryun Anderson as the most wide-open race of the year, and that played out as one of
the most nail-biting races of the day. As everything seemed to be going right for Northwest, it was fitting that Khaloni Mganga
won in 1:08.42 with Andree' DiReumante of Northwood and Jacari Ramsey of Springbrook right on his heels. Mganga is only a
sophomore who ran impressive times and ran on the 4x1 at states as a freshman. According to Youngblood, he increased his endurance
during cross country season and given his 1:08 500m at an early age, Youngblood, who coached Montgomery County's fastest all-time
500 meter runner Wil Zahorodny, predicts Mganga could someday hit 1:05.
To wrap up the major Northwest highlights, Northwest also won the 4x8 and 4x2 relays with impressive times of 8:18.30 and 1:33.10.
They say that the 4x400 is at the end of the meet because it is the most
exciting. This year was certainly one of the most exciting 4x4's in meet history. It was looking like just another win for
Northwest with Northwest leading almost the whole way until the Springbrook anchor leg, Jacari Ramsey, initiated an incredible
kick to catch the Northwest anchor at the line. I checked, and there has never been a smaller margin of victory in the 4x4 at the
county championship meet than Springbrook's 0.02 second margin of victory over Northwest, 3:33.86 to 3:33.88. Only in 2002 and
1986 was the boys 4x4 relay margin of victory less than 0.50 seconds. Springbrook last won the 4x400 relay at the indoor county
championship meet in 1992.
Donovan Beckett-Simms of Seneca Valley recorded a meet record in the triple jump with a mark of 45-09.00. Ty Mason of Blake
recorded a #2 all-time meet performance of 22-02 in the long jump to help Blake to its highest ever team finish at the indoor
county championship meet (2nd). Osajele Ikheloa became the first Sherwood male athlete to win a field event at the indoor county
championship meet when he won the shot put with a mark of 46-04.00. Finally in the field events, Greg D'Elia of Quince Orchard won
the high jump county title with a mark of 6-02 which ties 16 guys for 17th all-time at the indoor county meet.
Rohann Asfaw of Richard Montgomery High School recorded top ten all-time
meet performances in winning both the 1600m and 3200m. Quince Orchard's Liam Walsh was favored by Mocorunning fans to win the 1600
and led for part of the race, but when the poised Colin SyBing of Wootton took over the lead comfortably in the early stages, it
looked like he might steal the race. When Asfaw unleashed his finishing kick, it was a site to behold. Nobody was prepared for
what Asfaw had in reserve, and his final time of 4:23.82 was #4 all-time in meet history. Walsh and SyBing also recorded top 20
all-time meet performance, 4:27.24 and 4:28.20.
The 3200 meter was a similar race with Asfaw winning with a dominant kick over Northwest's Branson Oduor, 9:42.83 to 9:50.58.
Walsh got his county title in the 800m with his first indoor sub-2:00 800-meter performance in 1:59.52 and fastest all-time
performance by a Quince Orchard athlete at the indoor county meet. Quince Orchard's previous best at the county meet, Wayne
Bartholomew, dropped four second between counties and states, so if Coach Pelkey can conjure similar magic for Walsh he will be a
good bet to win the state title against PG's best.
Thierry Siewe Yanga of Blair made his presence known by pressing Walsh down the stretch in the 800m, but he settled for second
place in 1:59.96. It was the fastest 800m performance by a Montgomery Blair athlete by 3 seconds at the indoor county championship
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