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Screaming Eagles Invitational Notes
By: Kevin Milsted

I only spent six hours at the 2016 Screaming Eagles Invitational so this will just be a partial recap of the early day highlights. Seven years ago if I spent six hours at the Screaming Eagles Invitational, I would have been the last person on the track. That is a testament to how much the signature Seneca Valley High School spring track meet has grown in a relatively short period of time. The number of teams attending this meet has more than quadrupled since its inception under a different coaching regime back in 2008.

The hometown jumping star Donovan Beckett-Simms of Seneca Valley was a little off his game in the long jump which he won with a mark of 20-08.00. Despite winning the event and receiving congratulations from his fellow competitors, he expressed disappointment with his underwhelming performance. I was unable to stick around to witness Beckett-Simms win the triple jump in 46-02.50 later in the day.

Beckett-Simms was coming off a personal best performance in the triple jump the previous week at the Urbana Relays where he recorded a mark of 47-06.00, a mark which he said he nailed on the first jump and was thrilled about. It was the top triple jump performance by a Montgomery County athlete since 2009.

Montgomery County teams won the first four relays of the day. The Churchill boys and Paint Branch girls won the distance medley relays early in the day despite less than ideal conditions with a light rain and light wind. The rain stopped but it was still a little breezy when the Damascus girls hammered a 4x800 relay victory with no competition in sight. The Hornets recorded a time of 9:44.14 which was about six seconds better than their indoor season best. Coach Jason Bozicevich of Damascus hopes it will be fast enough to earn a spot in the 4x800 relay at the Penn Relays later this month.

The surprise of the day came when Montgomery Blair High School put together four solid legs on the boys 4x800 relay and pushed Churchill every step of the way. Churchill was a formidable force in the 4x800 during this past indoor season, taking second place at the county, region and state championship in the distance relay. While Thierry Siewe Yanga of Blair had a breakout indoor campaign himself (800m runner-up at the indoor county championship), I hardly expected the Blair boys to be leading and forcing Churchill around the track before Siewe Yanga got the baton. Truth be told, Suitland led for most of the race, but Churchill and Blair's anchor legs overtook Suitland within the first 200 meters. Churchill's anchor leg, Jacob Grant, timed his kick the best, nipping Siewe Yanga of Blair in 8:18.42 for the win over Blair's 8:18.50.

All the respect goes to Churchill for winning the 4x8 today and continuing to compete at the level they established for themselves this winter. But this Blair 4x800 is a bit of a revelation. Not only are they putting the county on notice that they will compete with the best in MoCo and the 4A West this year, they just recorded the fastest 4x800m relay time by a Blair boys team in a very long time. I can say for certain that it is the best since at least the year 2000 and Blair was not a middle distance powerhouse in the 90's either. For sure Blair High School had some championship-caliber 4x800 relays throughout the 80's with performances under 8:10 so I think it is safe to say that this Blair boys 4x800 is the best since the 1980's (anybody correct me if I am wrong).

Bullis High School was on hand competing at the Screaming Eagles Invitational, putting in some work with several of their national-caliber athletes. Bullis is still coming down from the biggest stage in high school indoor track, the New Balance Indoor Nationals Meet, in which both the 'A' and 'B' teams earned All-American honors (top 6) in the girls 4x400m relay. As amazing as that feat was, all Coach Joe Lee seems to remember is that his girls lost, and he has got his sights set on a few major invitationals coming up in the next few weeks for redemption.

The Taco Bell Classic in South Carolina, the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, and of course the Bullis Invitational right here in MoCo, USA is where Bullis plans to make its mark this month. The Bullis Invitational will be much larger than ever before and will host one of Bullis's national-stage rivals in Paul Robeson from New York, New York.

For today, Bullis was just shaking off the rust and working through a few mishaps. For example, the victory in the girls sprint medley relay was blemished by a dropped baton on the first 200- meter leg. Bullis's 800-meter anchor leg, Mia-Irene Gyau, was forced to make up a large deficit against the wind, which she eventually did for the win in 4:23.48.

Alexis Postell, Masai Russell, and Eric Allen of Bullis all worked on getting over the hurdles while relatively fresh with fantastic results. Postell took second in the 100-meter hurdles in 14.55 while Allen took first in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.51. Both set personal bests. Russell, who according to Coach Lee is still working through injuries, clocked 44.45 in the 300-meter hurdles, which is just a half second off her personal best from her freshman campaign last year.

Good Counsel's Megan Crilly recorded 5:17.20 to win the girls 1600-meter run. Paint Branch's Yasmine Kass broke the wind for much of the race before Crilly took over to shave over two seconds off her personal best. Kass was second in 5:22.00.

A short time later, Good Counsel's Jack Wavering broke the wind for his teammate Kevin McGivern as the two teammates ran most of the race well out in front of the rest of the field. Wavering held on for the win in 4:25.00 with McGivern officially 0.58 seconds back in 4:25.58.

That is all my notes as I left the meet a little before its conclusion. I'm resting up for a potential double header next week. Two MoCo classics have been double-booked on the same day: the QO Cougar Relays and the Woodward Relays at Georgetown Prep. For the first time I can watch the Devil Takes the Hindmost and the Woodward Relays Steeplechase on the same day.


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