Athletes of the year
Isaac Matthews, Oxon Hill
Isaac Matthews isn’t sure whether he will continue his running career in college, but recruiters will be trying hard to convince him not to quit. The Oxon Hill senior is the Star/Gazette Male Indoor Track Runner of the Year. His victory in the state Class 4A/3A 800 finals (1:58.15) last week at the Sports Complex capped a ‘‘Triple Crown” winter for the cerebral Matthews.
He was a one-person tour de force at the county championships, breaking the county-record in the 800 (1:59.3) and 3,200 (10:45.58) and winning the 1,600 (4:50.43). Matthews was the meet’s outstanding male track performer.
‘‘He’s one of those kids who doesn’t say much. He just comes, does his work and leaves,” said Oxon Hill coach Nathaniel Laney. ‘‘He’s pretty much self-motivated, he likes the scenario when he’s down a little bit and he has work hard to come from behind.”
Matthews, who’s focusing on a career in aerospace engineering, won the 800 competition (season-best 1:56.43) at the Hispanic Games at the New York City Armory. He was runner-up (1:59.88) by just six-tenths of a second at the Metro Run & Walk meet.
Last season, Matthews placed second in the 800 at the state finals, helping the Clippers to their first championship. He won the county title in the distance events. Those performances earned Matthews a spot on the Star/Gazette first team.
Leif Crago, Bowie
Though a foot injury kept him from winning the shot put ‘‘Triple Crown,” it was still a remarkable season for Leif Crago, the Star/Gazette Male Indoor Field Performer of the Year. He was runner-up (55 feet, 5.5 inches) at the state 4A/3A championships after nabbing top honors at the county and East Region (55-2.75) competitions.
His throw of 58-0.25 at the county championships broke the record, previously set in 1990 by Friendly’s Demark Thompson (55-7.5). Crago gained the meet’s outstanding male field performer honors.
‘‘It’s amazing. He seems to be more focused this year,” said longtime Bowie coach Rich Androulnis.
Crago won the Montgomery County Invitational at the Sports Complex with a season-best 58-5.5. He also placed first (52-feet) at the Prince George’s County Invitational.
He’s making his second consecutive appearance on the Star/Gazette All-County first team. Last winter, Crago won the county (51-7) and state (54-10.25) championship.
Crago was a 2002 All-County outdoor first teamer after winning the county and 4A South Region championship in the shot put and discus. He’ll be hoping to get an opportunity for a sweep in the shot put this spring at the state finals at University of Maryland-Baltimore County, where Crago may attend college.
Boys Coach of the Year
Troy Shockley, Suitland — Shockley had the perfect motivation for his team heading into the winter. After failing to repeat as state 4A outdoor champs last spring, he had the memory of last year’s second-place finish at the state 4A/3A finals as a constant reminder for his troops.
Suitland responded in dominating fashion, winning its first indoor state championship since 1982. The Rams won their second county title by 46 points, then corralled the East Region plaque.
Over a year after losing the state championship by six points to Oxon Hill, Suitland outdistanced Flowers, 72-42, the biggest margin in the boys’ 4A/3A finals since 1994.
The First Team
Fred Ballenger, Potomac, Sr., Shot Put — A repeat first-team all-county pick, Ballenger cruised to his second consecutive state 2A/1A shot put championship (56 feet, 1.75 inches). Only a second-place finish at the county finals denied him of the ‘‘Triple Crown.” Ballenger, who won the East Region title (55-2.75), was an all-county football first-teamer last fall.
Matthew Boyd, DuVal, Sr., Middle Distance — Boyd captured the state 2A/1A 800 title (2:07.72) after getting runner-up honors last year. He won the event at the East Regionals (2:12.8) and was second in the 500, but a false start removed him at the state meet. At the county finals, Boyd was second in the 1,600 and fourth in the 800.
Quinton Brown, Douglass, Jr., Hurdles —
Brown atoned for a sixth-place showing in the 55 hurdles at the county finals, claiming the state 3A/2A medal in 7.79 seconds. He claimed the East Region title (7.7) for the Upper Marlboro school. Brown was the starting quarterback for the Eagles’ football team last fall.
Jamaal Connally, Northwestern, Sr., Triple Jump — Connally helped Northwestern to a fourth-place showing at the county finals, winning the triple jump title (42 feet, 11 inches). He claimed first in the event at the Prince George’s Invitational (42-4). Connally also placed third in the high jump at the county meet.
Thomas Dunn, Northwestern, Sr., Long Jump — A transfer from Laurel, Dunn was a solid presence for the Wildcats this winter. He was second in the long jump at the county finals and third in the 800. At the Prince George’s Invitational, Dunn was second in the long jump and captured first in the 500 (1:08.6).
Robert Duru, Suitland, Sr., Sprints — Duru helped lead the Rams’ steamroll to the state 4A/3A championship. He won the state title in the 55 dash (35.63) and was runner-up in the 300. Duru claimed the county 55 title (6.47) and missed a sweep by finishing second at the East Region meet.
Ronnie Greenfield, Roosevelt, Sr., Distance — Selected to the Star/Gazette All-County cross country team last fall, Greenfield was one of the best distance runners during the winter. He was runner-up in the 3,200 at the county finals and took third in the 1,600. At the East Region meet, Greenfield placed fifth in the 1,600 and sixth in the 3,200.
Aaron Marshall, Bladensburg, Sr., Sprints/Middle Distance — After finishing tied for the 300 title (37.2) at the state 3A/2A East Region meet, he separated himself from the pack at the state finals, winning in 35.3 seconds. Marshall, state runner-up in the 500, won the event at regionals. He placed fourth in both events at the county championships.
Chip Weeks, Friendly, Sr., Sprints — Weeks lived up to his early season prediction of winning a state championship with the 55 dash title (6.53) at the 3A/2A finals. The transfer from Lackey High won the East Region title in the 55 after placing fourth at the county championships. Weeks placed third at the Metro Run & Walk Invitational.
Anthony Wiseman, DeMatha, So., Sprints — Though the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference doesn’t have an indoor league or meet, Wiseman and the Stags sent a message for outdoors. He owns the county’s fastest clocking in the 55 dash this winter (6.37; seventh nationally), winning the Metro Run & Walk Invitational. Wiseman captured the 55 (6.86) and 200 (22.3) at the Penn State Invitational.
Deyon Williams, Suitland, Sr., High Jump — Though a false start cost him a shot at the state 4A/3A 55 hurdles title, Williams was nonetheless a big reason Suitland won its first state crown in 21 seasons. He was second in the high jump, and won the event at the county finals (6-2) and the Friends of Indoor Track meet (6-4). Williams claimed his second straight county hurdles title (7.51) this winter.
John Witter, Roosevelt, Sr., Distance — The 2001 Star/Gazette All-County cross country Runner of the Year, Witter was third in the 3,200 at the county finals. He placed fourth at the East Region meet before placing eighth at the state championships.
Daryl Young, Flowers, Sr., Sprints — Young became the first male to win an individual state title for the Jaguars, winning the 300 (35.63) event at the 4A/3A championships. He was second in the 300 at the East Region meet and the 500 at the county finals. Young was part of the Flowers’ 1,600 relay squad that claimed the ‘‘Triple Crown.”
Sprints: Afolabi Aromire and Eric Best, Flowers; Yaphet Cross and Jamel Lane, Suitland; Brian Daniel, Forestville; Anthony Manigault, Largo; Leslie Perkins, Roosevelt; Seon St. Bernard, Fairmont Heights
Middle Distance: Keith Anderson and Kendall Quashie, High Point; Antoine Washington, DeMatha
Hurdles: Dominic Berger, DeMatha; Anthony Cuff, Flowers; Aaron James, DuVal; Darnell Moore, Suitland
Field: Brian Burtis, Bowie; William Lewis, Suitland; Marlon Powells and Edward Smith, DeMatha; Anthony Simmons, Oxon Hill; Amerik Watson, High Point; Derrick Williams, Gwynn Park
Relays: Jacob Anderson, George Bailey, Eric Lawson & Sunday Umoh, Flowers; Joseph Lavela, Josh Wilson and Maurice Woods, DeMatha; Serge McGill and Patrick Smalls, Suitland; Kofi Nkrunah and Steven Robinson, DuVal.