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Howard boys, Oakland Mills girls win titles at Howard County indoor track and field championships

LANDOVER — After weeks of diligent preparation, all 13 Howard County schools met at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex for the Howard County indoor track and field championships.

With many of last year’s county champions having graduated or no longer in Howard County, the door was open for new stars to emerge. Ultimately, the Howard boys (118 points) and the Oakland Mills girls (113.5) captured team titles while the Scorpions boys (80) and Lions girls (101) each finished second.

Howard boys capture team title

The Lions coaching staff establishes high expectations early on. Roughly 180 students tried out and after cuts, they talked about projections both inside and outside of the program. After those early season meetings come intense practices that help build collective confidence in the season’s biggest moments.

“Competition is everything,” Howard boys coach Tyler Wade said. “You have to an edge to you when it comes to a championship meet, it doesn’t matter what the sport is. You’ve got to have that competition and edge to know how to figure things out and excel. Not only that, but how to overcome failure and build off of success. That competition that we have internally is huge for us.”

That belief showed for the Lions as they had three winners and at least one top-five finisher in 11 of 15 competitions. Seniors Joey Ensor and Zamir Herald helped headline those strong performances, while Amadeus Davis and Xavier Gardner also played a key role. Gardner finished second in the 55-meter hurdles, while Davis placed third in the 500.

Ensor, who is coming off a dominant cross country season, maintained that momentum into the distance events. He won both the 1,600 (4 minutes, 26.95 seconds) and the 3,200 (9:44.89), earning pivotal points. Rayyan Dheini and Max VomSaal added third and sixth-place finishes in the 3,200 as Howard built separation from Oakland Mills.

“It was great,” Ensor said. “We have expectations and we all met them or even exceeded them. It’s good to know that we’re capable of so much and that we’re going to be carrying this momentum into regionals and states.”

The Lions also thrived in the field events, specifically the jumps. Diego McCullough and Herald each finished in the top five in the high jump, while Taylor Moore placed third in the long jump. However, Howard pulled away thanks in large part to the triple jump.

Herald, Kenny Stevens and McCullough compete every day in practice, fueling each of their competitive juices and helping to bring out the best in each of them on meet days. Herald won the battle Monday, with a distance of 45 feet, narrowly edging out Stevens (44-0), while McCullough’s sixth-place finish added to the Lions’ lead.

“I’m looking for a gold at that state championship,” Herald said. “I’m looking for another state championship plaque for the team and I think we can get it done with the group of people that we have here. We have a very balanced team with the throwers, jumpers, all the field events, all the distance runners and sprinters. I think it’s the most balanced group we’ve had my entire time at Howard.”

Oakland Mills girls win

The Oakland Mills girls and coach Renato Gonzales were well aware of the perception outside the program this season. Many thought the Scorpions would struggle after moving up from Class 2A to 3A. However, they were determined to show that wouldn’t be the case.

Alicia Hall and Shania Staats did that and then some. Hall began the afternoon with a highlight in the triple jump. On her first jump of the day, Hall jumped 39 feet, breaking both a meet and county record. That historic jump put Hall on the national stage as she’s now leaped the furthest distance in Maryland and ranks 20th in the nation.

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“I was really confident about what I was going to do,” she said. “I felt good today. I was going through the phases in my head, and I was just ready to go. I put everything into that first jump, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it later and it ended up really good. I got really hype. I feel very confident but I know that I’m not done working. I still need to get better. I know I’m ranked No. 20 in the U.S.; I need to be No. 1. I got to keep working my butt off at practice to get better every day and every meet.”

Yet, Hall wasn’t the only one who set a record on the evening. On Staats’ first long jump, she jumped 18 feet, 5.25 inches, setting a county and meet record. With that jump, she has the sixth-longest distance in Maryland and is ranked 49th in the country. Conquering the feat on her just jump, Staats similarly felt a weight off her shoulders right away.

“I’m extremely happy with how far I’ve come and how far it’s taken me to get back up there and get up with everybody else,” she said. “Getting a meet and county record, when I saw that I was incredibly shocked. I was incredibly happy and grateful to God, who gave me the strength to do it.”

Staats also finished third in the 55 and fourth in the triple jump, while Hall placed third in the long jump and seventh in shot put. The Scorpions girls continued to distinguish themselves in the field events with senior Valerie Ashamu, an accomplished high jumper who has cleared 5 feet, 2 inches with ease in the past.

However, Monday night, she was unable to jump that high and went into a jump-off with Long Reach’s Ciara Amon-Nicholls. Despite being frustrated with earlier jumps, Ashamu mentally reset and locked in to win the jump-off.

“Go big or go home,” she said of her mindset. “My biggest thing was getting out of my head and just trying to put my best out there. That was, I had to do and I did it thankfully. It was a lot of pressure, which I’m not used to.”

The senior also stepped up by competing in the 300, not one of her typical events, and placing seventh. Frankie Moore’s success in the distance events helped the Scorpions come from behind. She finished second in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200 in a stacked field, competing against some of the state’s best runners. The Scorpions also won the 4×400-meter relay and placed second in the 4×200, helping to avenge their runner-up finish last year.

“We don’t ever think about what happened last year, so every season is a challenge,” Gonzales said. “We told them, ‘Hey we’re in 3A, people may think that’s too much, but we know where we stand. We know what kind of program we are. We know what we expect of ourselves.’ They handled business, hats off them. Individually, we always challenge, ‘Hey built yourself, try to PR.’ They did that and they moved on to the next event and said, ‘Hey what I can do for my teammates, how can I pump my teammates up?’ The next one was all they thought about and I’m proud of them. They did everything they had to.”

Girls results

Team scores

  1. Oakland Mills: 113.5

  2. Howard: 101

  3. River Hill: 72

  4. Long Reach: 69

  5. Reservoir 48

  6. Centennial: 41

  7. Glenelg: 35.5

  8. Atholton: 29

  9. Marriotts Ridge: 25

  10. Hammond: 10

  11. Mt. Hebron: 13

  12. Wilde Lake: 11

  13. Guilford Park: 7

55-meter dash

  1. Sydney Rhodes, Howard: 7.23

  2. Aniyah Toppin, Long Reach: 7.30

  3. Shania Staats, Oakland Mills: 7.30

55-meter hurdles

  1. Abiola Owens, Glenelg: 8.76

  2. Ava Carr, Howard: 8.91

  3. Ademide Gbadehan: 9.02

300

  1. Alicia Hall, Long Reach: 41.18

  2. Aniyah Toppin, Long Reach: 41.37

  3. Sydney Rhodes, Howard: 42.37

500

  1. Kendall Hall, Long Reach: 1:19.73

  2. Marella Virmani, River Hill: 1:20.65

  3. Kaniyah Ervin, Reservoir: 1:21.25

800

  1. Riley Herdson, Centennial: 2:23.04

  2. Marella Virmani, River Hill: 2:24.32

  3. Lauren Virmani, River Hill: 2:27.85

1,600

  1. Lauren Virmani, River Hill: 5:11.24

  2. Frankie Moore, Oakland Mills: 5:13.53

  3. Claire Sivitz, Howard: 5:17.00

3,200

  1. Lauren Virmani, River Hill: 11:20.30

  2. Claire Sivitz, Howard: 11.31.80

  3. Frankie Moore, Oakland Mills: 12:01.10

4×200

  1. Howard: 1:46.24

  2. Oakland Mills: 1:47.70

  3. Reservoir: 1:48.62

4×400

  1. Oakland Mills: 4:19.97

  2. River Hill: 4:24.30

  3. Reservoir: 4:25.66

4×800

  1. River Hill: 10:04.67

  2. Howard: 10:36.18

  3. Centennial: 10:39.79

High jump

  1. Valerie Ashamu, Oakland Mills: 5-02 (won in a jump off)

  2. Ciara Amon-Nicholls, Long Reach: 5-02

  3. Alicia Hall, Oakland Mills: 5-00

Long jump

  1. Shania Staats, Oakland Mills: 18-05.25

  2. Aniyah Toppin, Long Reach: 17-06.25

  3. Alicia Hall, Long Reach: 17-02.25

Pole vault

  1. Avery Voeltner, Centennial: 10-00

  2. Hannah McDerment, Reservoir: 9-00

  3. Koryn Sanders, Wilde Lake: 9-00

Shot put

  1. Katherine Wood, Atholton: 34-00.50

  2. Annabelle Gannon, Glenelg: 32-01

  3. Lauren Latour, Atholton: 29-06.50

Triple jump

  1. Alicia Hall, Oakland Mills: 39-00.

  2. Aniyah Toppin, Long Reach: 35-09.75

  3. Ruqqayyat Gobir, Howard: 34-04.75

Boys results

Team scores

  1. Howard: 118

  2. Oakland Mills: 80

  3. Centennial: 76

  4. Wilde Lake: 55

  5. Long Reach: 50

  6. Reservoir: 46

  7. Hammond: 42

  8. Marriotts Ridge: 39

  9. Atholton: 25

  10. Glenelg: 25

  11. Mt. Hebron: 17

  12. River Hill: 9

  13. Guilford Park: 1

55-meter dash

  1. Marlin Newsome, Centennial: 6.41

  2. Delbert Cowsette, Atholton: 6.52

  3. Justin Eusebe, Reservoir: 6.60

55-meter hurdles

  1. Louis (Trey) Montgomery, Marriotts Ridge: 7.78

  2. Xavier Gardner, Howard: 7.84

  3. Isaac Ramsey, Oakland Mills: 8.24

300

  1. Jaylen Etheridge, Long Reach: 35.39

  2. Jayden Deleon, Oakland Mills: 35.63

  3. Chase Burke, Hammond: 35.87

500

  1. Chase Burke, Hammond: 1:07.39

  2. Jaylen Etheridge, Long Reach: 1:08.80

  3. Amadeus Davis, Howard: 1:09.07

800

  1. David Herzberger, Centennial: 2:00.56

  2. Evan Quinn, Long Reach: 2:01.16

  3. Sherwin Yarema, Marriotts Ridge: 2:02.75

1,600

  1. Joey Ensor, Howard: 4:26.95

  2. Evan Quinn, Long Reach: 4:31.97

  3. David Herzberger, Centennial: 4:31.65

3,200

  1. Joey Ensor, Howard: 9:44.83

  2. Kidus Zeleke, Reservoir: 9:57.63

  3. Rayyan Dheini, Howard: 10:03.98

4×200

  1. Centennial: 1:32.28

  2. Howard: 1:32.29

  3. Hammond: 1:33.39

4×400

  1. Wilde Lake: 3:34.86

  2. Reservoir: 3:41.64

  3. Centennial: 3:41.68

4×800

  1. Oakland Mills: 8:18.53

  2. Long Reach: 8:41.76

  3. Howard: 8:51.55

High jump

  1. Steeve Nwalal, Wilde Lake: 6-02

  2. Diego McCullough, Howard: 6-00

  3. AJ York, Oakland Mills: 6-00

Long jump

  1. Delbert Cowsette, Atholton: 21-09.75

  2. Keshon Tate, Oakland Mills: 21-00

  3. Taylor Moore, Howard: 20-05

Pole vault

  1. Adeeb Pender, Oakland Mills: 12-06

  2. Yashvasin Rekula, Marriotts Ridge: 11-00

  3. Ethan Burgoon, Centennial: 11-00

Shot put

  1. Logan Ruehl, Mt. Hebron: 49-02

  2. Ruichen He, Glenelg: 45-05

  3. Kaiden Lee, Oakland Mills: 45-03

Triple jump

  1. Zamir Herald, Howard: 45-00

  2. Kenny Stevens, Howard: 44-00

  3. Louis (Trey) Montgomery, Marriotts Ridge: 39-05.75