Four Rockets Boosted RM to Third
By: Kevin Milsted
Saturday, June 03, 2017

In about a one hour span on Saturday morning, Richard Montgomery High School piled up 25 points on top of the 10 points earned on Friday. Richard Montgomery briefly took over first place in the 4A boys team standings with 35 points and held on to second place for nearly the entire day on Saturday. Only when Springbrook and Digital Harbor went one-two in the very last event of the day, the 4x400 relay, did Richard Montgomery slip into a tie for third place in the boys 4A team standings.

Senior Rohann Asfaw's victory in the 3200 (9:24.26) and runner-up finish in the 1600 (4:18.89) accounted for 18 of Richard Montgomery's 35 points. Despite taking second place in the 1600 behind a breakout performance by Bel Air's Kieran McDermott (4:11.94), Asfaw was about as happy as he had ever looked after a race.

"I've been edging my school record in the 1600 ever since I started running 4:20's," said Asfaw. "The school record is 4:19 and I've run like about 4:19-4:20 so many times so today I really just wanted to come out and get the record and I finally broke 4:19 so I'm pretty happy."

Asfaw is hoping to enter the championship two mile race at New Balance Nationals. His 8:25.29 3k at the Penn Relays should earn him a spot to race with the best prep distance runners in the nation.

Finishing right behind Asfaw in third place in the 1600m was Richard Montgomery's Mark Unger. It was the sophomore's second time finishing in third place at the outdoor state championship. A year ago as a freshman, he placed third in the 800-meter in 1:56.02, but shortly after that, he suffered an injury that knocked him out for months.

"Last year I was training for the DMV meet with Chase Osborne, Andree DiReumante and those guys...Thierry [Siewe Yanga]. I was doing a 300 workout. I was finishing up the rep and felt a pop in my leg. I lost control of my leg for three steps. That's just how it happened. I had surgery in June and then I've been training since the end of indoor."

The diagnosis was a hamstring avulsion fracture which required surgery and months of rehab. RM's track coaches did not rush his return and waited until the spring season to put him back into racing action. He ran 4:34 in the mile at the Cougar Relays and then 4:24 in the mile at the Viking Invitational, putting the state on notice that he was back and better than ever at the mile distance.

At the state meet, Unger said that he got boxed in and fell to last place over the first 150 meters, but he worked his way back up to his teammate and had more left at the finish than he was expecting for a 4:19.72 personal record.

"I'm just amazed. I'm not sure exactly how I did it, but I'm happy I did it. Thanks for my doctors and physical therapists for helping me get here," Unger said.

Richard Montgomery received another three points from newcomer, Jesse Cooper, who jumped 42-11 in the triple jump which placed sixth. The junior jumped over six feet in the high jump and 43 feet in the triple jump in his first year running track.

One of RM's freshman phenoms, Garrett Suhr, the indoor freshman national mile champion, unfortunately missed most of the outdoor season due to back spasms. RM's other freshman phenom, Seydi Sall, had an incredible performance at the state championship meet.

Sall recorded a 48.13 400-meter performance which was good for second place behind High Point High School's Ken Nelson. The performance was the fastest 400 meters by an MCPS athlete in any meet since 2002 and one of the fastest ever by an MCPS athlete of any grade.

Springbrook's coach, Bryan Steele, was just a smidge faster than Sall when he ran 48.01 at the state meet in 2002 as a senior. Steele heaped praise on Sall as the next big thing in Maryland track:

"The freshman from Richard Montgomery, he's going to be amazing," said Steele. "He's going to be tough to compete with him the next three years."

Richard Montgomery may be tough to compete with in the team standings in the near future.


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