Lexus Ramsey thought she was the only athlete left in her family.
Now a sophomore at Bowie High School, she is the last of her siblings to play a sport. Her two older sisters, 23 and 22, hung up their softball gloves and cleats after graduation, leaving the youngest Ramsey with the responsibility of holding high a competitive fire that, unbeknownst to her prior to last year, has run in her family for years.
But in November of her freshman year, as Ramsey was unpacking moving boxes, she stumbled across something she had never known about her family.
In one of the endless piles of boxes, she found herself staring down at track and field medals and trophies that she didn’t win. She had no idea whose they were. To the best of her knowledge, she said, no one else in her family had competed in track.
Wrong. She uncovered gold championship trophies and awards from the Penn Relays — the prestigious Philadelphia meet that, at the time, she hadn’t yet run in — and asked her father, Daniel, whose they were. They were his.
“He was hiding all sorts of medals and trophies,” said Ramsey. “He thought I was going to get big-headed if I knew that it runs in the family.”
Ramsey surprised herself by how quickly she was able to pick up the sport she learned by watching on TV. She’s been running competitively for just three years, beginning her budding career with the Frontrunner Track Club the summer of her eighth-grade year to prepare for Bowie High. With the county, regional, and state championships on the horizon in her second year as a Bulldog, Ramsey already owns a regional title in the 800-meter relay, a county crown in the 100, and is a part of two relay teams that have broken five school records.
“I knew she had speed, but for her to be doing some of the things she’s been doing,” said her father, pausing to find the right words, “no, I didn’t anticipate that.”
Ramsey is a cornerstone in a Bowie 400 relay team that has lost just one time this season, coming in second to Montgomery County powerhouse Northwest at the Quince Orchard Cougar Relays at the end of March. That team has gotten faster in every meet except one after finishing in 50.7 seconds at the Screaming Eagles Invitational.
Since that meet at Seneca Valley High School, Ramsey, Evelyn Chappell, Briana Gooding and Janice George have broken the school record four times, the most recent coming May 2 in the Prince George’s 4A Divisional Championships at Henry A. Wise High School.
Although no official time has been reported from the meet, Bowie coach Rich Andrulonis clocked his Bulldogs at 48.12 seconds, 0.22 faster than their previous state-leading time of 48.33 seconds at the Penn Relays.
“I’ve had some great teams,” said Andrulonis, who has been coaching Bowie for 31 seasons. “I’ve had approximately 28 championships but this is probably the most awesome girls team I’ve had.”
Their talents don’t stop at the 400 relay. The same four also run the 800 relay and own the No. 2 time in the state behind Northwest.
“We have to do a lot [to beat them],” Ramsey admitted. “We know we can catch them. We beat them in the first, second, and third legs but Camry [Torian] is so good.”
Torian, a senior at Northwest, anchored the Jaguars’ 800 relay team that beat Bowie by 0.41 seconds for the Maryland 4A indoor title. Ever since the Jaguars ran away with the title in February, Ramsey and the rest of the Bulldogs have been itching for another shot.
“They aren’t complacent,” Andrulonis said. “They don’t let their success get to their heads.”
To prepare for the upcoming championship season, which begins with the county championship meet on Thursday and Saturday, Andrulonis has been running the sprinters against the boys team, and sprints coach Jordan Coleman has been introducing myriad new workouts to keep them from peaking too soon. So far, the strategies have been working.
Ramsey’s blazing 12.03-second time in the 100 at the 4A Divisional Championships was tantalizingly close to a 21-year-old school record that Andrulonis said he believed was etched in stone.
“I didn’t think it could be touched,” he said of the record, which was set in 1991 at 11.91 seconds. “She’s only a sophomore. She will be more mature and physically stronger in the future and [breaking the record] is definitely possible.”
Since uncovering her father’s relics that day in November, Ramsey has become a student of the sport. She watches it on TV, hits the weight room to improve her explosion off the starting blocks, and hammers down her starts with Coleman, all to break records that she already owns.
“She’s just embraced [track]. It’s her first love,” her father said. “I could take anything else away from her but track.”