Robert Wigfall had sloshed through rain and wrestled for tackles on muddy and essentially dilapidated football fields enough times in his life to not be bothered by the steady drizzle falling from the Capitol Heights sky on Saturday.
He wasn't running his best times at the Central High School Invitational, but neither was anybody else, the product of a slicked up track and less than favorable running conditions.
“It's a little bit slippery but I mean we play football in bad weather,” said Wigfall, who committed to play football for Bowie State and played in the 4A state championship game in horrendous conditions this past December. “We can deal with it in track.”
The Riverdale Baptist sprint and hurdling core were especially unbothered. Dnia Freeman and Samaria Ward finished one-two in the 400-hurdles — an event typically reserved for the Penn Relays — in times of 1 minute, 7.46 seconds and 1:07.98, respectively; John Hightower claimed gold in the 400-hurdles (57.17) and silver in the 110-hurdles (14.98); and Jaela Gay added a first place finish in the 200 (25.65).
“This is my first meet running with them so I'm excited,” Gay said. “A lot of the girls on the team, good coaches, they'll get me to where I need to be. I know I can do better but I have a long way to go.”
Kayla Wright wasn't so much concerned by the traction on the track and she was by the unusually long, wide turns. Nevertheless, she anchored the Frederick Douglass 3,200 relay to a second-place finish (10:17.52) behind only perennial middle distance power Largo (10:12.91), and then, just two events later, took gold in the 1,600 (5:50.18) despite her legs beginning to give out around lap two.
“It's all mental,” said Wright, a junior. “I have the heart to finish so I can't give up on my team, can't give up on myself, so I just push through the whole thing. I could do better, but if it was my first race I would have dropped it a little bit.”
The Largo relays were, per usual, powered by Devonni Farrar. She anchored the winning 3,200-relay team and then went on to win the open 800 (57.98) while Laurel's Keren Vital also broke a minute (58.88).
In the most competitive event of the day, the girls' 100, Henry A. Wise's India Griffin finished first in 12.80. The next four places were decided by .03 seconds, with Taylor Williams taking second (12.81), Potomac's Jasmine White third (12.81), Largo's Jennifer Goodman fourth (12.83), and teammate Amel Duggins fifth (12.83).
“Oh she's running really well,” Wise girls' coach Gideon Tinch said of Griffin, a Suitland transfer.
The boys' sprints were unusually spread, a direct result of Wise speedster Brenen Garrett taking a light schedule and running only the open 400 — which he won (49.24) — and select relays. Jerome Miller of Largo took gold in the 100 (11.35), and Douglass' Devin Butler was the county's top finisher in the 200, settling for bronze (23.35) behind a pair from T.C. Williams.
In the field, Douglass' Anisah Teach won the long jump (17 feet, 8 inches) by more than a foot while Riverdale's Marcus Harris took the boys' gold by 11 inches with a bound of 21-05. Teammate Rashad Manning was his usual dominant self in the shot put, landing a throw of 54-04, 11 feet ahead of the next closest finisher.