This year's football season carried into the second week of December which seemed like at least a week longer than normal. That kept some of MoCo's
finest hybrid athletes in pads and helmets during the first two MCPS track meets at Prince Georges Sports and Learning Center in Landover.
Damascus and Quince Orchard represented Montgomery County in the MPSSAA state football finals on December 8 and December 9. Rested and refocused,
multi-sport athletes from both teams made their presence known at MCPS Meet #3 during winter break on December 27.
Kenneth Williams played defensive back for QO in the state title game on December 9, and according to head track coach Seann Pelkey, he couldn't
wait to get back out on the track...or field, to be more precise.
"I love that kid," said Pelkey, more than once, while looking over at the tall junior who
was smiling ear to ear in the bleachers.
Williams was fielding texts, tweets, and phone calls as news of his 6-foot 5-inch leap spread on social media. It was the highest clearance by a
Montgomery County athlete indoors since 2009. What's more, no junior from Montgomery County had cleared that height indoors since 2006.
Pelkey, for one, was not expecting it. Six-foot-two, maybe, Pelkey thought, but not six-five. He had not approached that in practice, but he had
strong mentors the last two years in Dylan Bikim and Greg D'Elia, who are now graduated. Williams topped out at six feet as a sophomore while Bikim
held the spotlight by winning indoor and outdoor state titles.
"He got hot at the end and made a bunch of jumps in a row...Now he has to do it again," Pelkey said, referring to championship season when it counts
Pelkey said that Williams asked to compete the following day, but he was denied. Through quirks in the schedule, Quince Orchard actually competed in
Landover on three consecutive days. No individual athlete competed more than once, but the PR Holiday Invitational was rescheduled for Monday, and
QO already planned to compete in MCPS Meet #3 on Tuesday and the FIT Relays on Wednesday.
Williams will get his chance to compete again at the SMAC Invitational on January 7.
Markus Vinson of Damascus High School was perhaps the most heralded football player in
Montgomery County this fall and he is one of the top returning sprinters from last outdoor track season. Vinson, however, never ran indoor track
until now. He typically wrestled in the winter (a true three-sport athlete), but this year he chose indoor track to try to break school records,
which did not take long.
"He kind of flirted with the idea for a while," said Cason.
"...He got it in his mind that this year he wanted to run indoor, get that experience, and hit the outdoor season running. He has his eyes on
breaking a lot of the records at Damascus and wants to see what he can do in the indoor season."
His time of 36.30 in the 300-meter dash on Tuesday set the new Damascus High School record. He finished second behind the Blake High School record
holder, Nathan Phillips, albeit out of a different heat. He also won the 55-meter dash in 6.63.
"He's very focused and wants to do big things this season so we are excited to see what he can do," added Cason.
In keeping with this football-centric track meet recap, Blake High School had a playoff-
caliber football campaign this fall, and it was enjoyable to see that they did it with multisport track athletes.
"Brian Dennis connects with Ty Mason," was a common tweet that I read this fall. Linemen never get the credit, but I assume that this year's top
returning MCPS shot putters, Jabari Bennett and Sheldon Ellis, were usually involved in the big plays.
Ellis, in the absence of Bennett, won the MCPS Meet #3 shot put competition with a mark of 46-04.50, a new County #1 mark this season.
Mason did not long jump on Tuesday, but it is worth noting that he jumped 23-02.50 at the Ed Bowie Invitational on December 22, which, aside from
his own mark at indoor nationals last year, is the best indoor mark that I can find by an MCPS athlete dating back to the 80's.
Dennis improved on his MCPS-leading time in the 55-meter hurdles (7.83), but only after a starter's pistol malfunction caused the race to be re-run.
In heat number five, the top seeded heat, the race began with a faint gun shot. The competitors started the race, probably with varying levels of
hesitation, and they were not called back to the starting line until the race concluded. Robert Gicheru of Northwest High School was first across
the finish line on the initial running, but Dennis was strongest in the second running.
Blake High School's top performance of the day came from Nathan Phillips, not a football player, but already a school record holder in the 300-meter
dash from his sophomore year (35.38). On Tuesday, Phillips flew to a new MCPS-leading mark of 35.61, which is well ahead of where he was this time
last year. He came back to finish second in the 500-meter dash in 1:09.60.
Eldon Phillips held off Nathan Phillips to win the 500-meter dash in 1:08.13. It was the first high school race won by Phillips according to
Mocorunning's records and the fastest 500-meter performance by a Northwood athlete since 2008.
B-CC's Adam Nakasaka pulled off a challenging double, winning the 1600-meter and 3200-meter races within a one hour span. The 1600-meter field was
loaded with fierce kickers, and Nakasaka pushed hard from the start so as not to allow anyone to stay within striking distance. He even-split the
race with about a 2:15 first 800-meter and a final time of 4:31.19. Freshman Garrett Suhr hunted down Blair's Thierry Siewe Yanga to take second
place in 4:34.73, the fastest freshman 1600-meter time in Mocorunning's database in the month of December. Richard Montgomery's Rohann Asfaw, who
finished 18th, was never in contention due to a recent bout with the flu according to Coach Davy Rogers.
Nakasaka ran a much more conservative race in the 3200-meter run, allowing Northwood's Obsaa Feda to lead for all but the last three laps. Nobody
hung with him when he made his move. He won in 10:09.95 and swept the two events for the second consecutive MCPS Meet.
Ngoy Jeriel Yamitshi of Northwest High School was not in the original meet program for the open 800-meter run, but he ran in heat #4 which he won by almost twenty seconds in
2:01.87. The time held up as the fastest of the day.
In the final 800-meter heat, Garrett Suhr of RM went toe-to-toe with Chase Osborne and Osborne won by a split-second, 2:02.50 to 2:02.58. The
performance crushed the previous best indoor freshman 800-meter performance in Mocorunning's database, which stood at 2:08.12 (Ryan Lockett from two
years ago). For anyone wondering, Mocoruning's fastest outdoor 800-meter performance by a freshman is 1:56.02, set last year by Mark Unger of
Richard Montgomery HS.
Northwest won the 4x400 relay in 3:32.66 while Blair took second place in 3:33.49. For Blair, it was the fastest indoor 4x400-meter relay since
Paint Branch athletes Tyrek Goy (42-02) and Chukwumdi Osuji (21-00.50) won the triple jump and the long jump. Osuji is a freshman and just the
second MCPS freshman in the last decade to jump over 21 feet indoors. He had no experience jumping prior to this season according to Paint Branch
Coach Dessalyn Dillard.