While only a pair of Southern Maryland Athletic Conference indoor track and field teams could claim their respective region crowns last week, several athletes who attained titles in individual events and relays in the region championships will be looking to cap their winter seasons with state titles on Monday and Tuesday at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.
The Northern High School girls, who will head into Tuesday’s Class 3A state championships as the reigning state champions, recently solidified their status as favorites to repeat by capturing the 3A East Region crown. The Patriots will look for points from numerous athletes in distance events, field events and relays and may have the day’s only mortal lock.
Northern junior Oakley Olson has emerged as the state’s best female runner in the 1,600-meter run and junior teammate Hannah Mack is arguably the best two-miler based on her region title in the 3,200. The Patriots’ formidable 3,200 relay could also garner a state title and junior Allie Droneberger could emerge with the high jump title.
“We definitely want to come back here and win another state team title,” Olson said. “We have a lot of girls back from last year and we have a lot of new girls who have really done well this year. My goal is to win the 1,600 and maybe get down to around 5:02. I was able to finally break 5:11 at regions.”
Huntingtown’s boys captured their second straight 3A East Region title last week and will be among the contenders for the state title, as will North Point.
The Hurricanes and Eagles finished one-two in the region meet and Huntingtown senior Anthony Smith and North Point senior DeVion Bryant will be the focal points in individual events and relays on Tuesday.
“I definitely want to keep dropping time and win the state title in the 55,” said Smith, who captured the 3A East title in that event after finishing a very close second in the 300. “I think I could drop time and win the 300. Our relays have been getting better all season.”
Bryant will look to put the finishing touches on his final indoor season when he seeks the state crown in the 800. Bryant won the 3A East title in that event comfortably in 1 minute 57.12 seconds and is seeking to drop two seconds from that time next week at states.
“My goal now is to get down around 1:55 in the 800,” said Bryant, who will also contest the 1,600 and at least one relay. “It’s always great to win a SMAC and region title, but now I would like to be able to win states and drop time in the 800. There’s a lot of good competition in the 1,600. I just hope I can keep dropping time and score points for my team.”
Chopticon twins Zachary Wedding and Jeffrey Wedding finished one-two in the 1,600 at the 3A East meet and look to duplicate that performance in Tuesday’s 3A state championships. Both Weddings are also part of the Braves’ 3,200 relay that could also emerge with a state title in that event.
In the field events, North Point’s Mehkya Jones and Shantia Creek-Barrett will perhaps settle their friendly rivalry in the 3A girls shot put. Creek-Barrett has been the dominant force in the event the last two years, but Jones finished slightly ahead of her in the 3A East Region meet. They will face off again for the ultimate bragging rights on Tuesday with the state title on the line.
In 2A, Calvert High School sophomore Kristen Prince delivered a dominant performance en route to take the girls 3,200 title at the 2A East Region meet and a similar performance on Monday at the 2A state championships would likely earn her another medal. Following a superb cross country season, Prince has made the quick, successful transition to the distance events at the indoor meets and has a state title well within reach.
“I’ve been learning to pace myself more in the 3,200,” Prince said. “I would usually go out fast but then start to feel a little tired. Even in the region meet I felt really good the first mile, but I started to run out of gas a little bit that second mile.”
In the region and state meets, freshmen often get lost in the shuffle while facing their older rivals, but Thomas Stone High School freshman Takiya Henson has emerged as a budding SMAC star after taking the 2A East Region title in the 300 despite battling some breathing issues throughout that week.
“I still think I can get down to around 7.25 in the 55 and then break 40 in the 300,” Henson said. “I just want to keep dropping time and scoring points for my team. It felt great to win a region title as a freshman. There’s a lot of pressure on you when you’re facing older girls, but I’m ready to keep improving.”
The 1A and 2A state championships are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex. The 3A and 4A state meets are scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in Landover.