Delays test patience at Junior Olympic qualifier -- Gazette.Net


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Yeni Aromolaran stretched, warmed up and waited for the couple heats in front of her before she ran her race in the 100-meter dash. For nearly an hour the Thomas Johnson High School graduate had to repeat the process over and over again to stay loose.

In between each 100-meter heat during Sunday's the USA Track and Field/Potomac Valley Association Region 16 Junior Olympics Championships there was close to a 20-minute delay rather than the steady flux of races that is typical for a large meet. Confusion over what runner was supposed to be in what lane, late additions — Tuscarora High School's Krystal Clarke called it “chaos” — slowed things considerably.

Eventually, Aromolaran got to the starting line, and a short 12 seconds later she was finished for the day.

Clarke suffered the same frustrating delays as she prepared for her 200-meter race. After taking first place in the long jump with a leap of 18 feet, inches on Friday, Clarke made the hour-long trip back to the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex in Landover for Sunday's finals of the 200, a race that takes about 25 seconds to run.

About 90 minutes after she was scheduled to run, she was finally finished.

“It was crazy,” she said of waiting for the officials to get the meet under way after numerous delays. “They weren't telling us anything. We just had to figure it out ourselves.”

“It was really frustrating,” Aromolaran said. “I had to get stretched out and then I would get cold. But at the same time you can think about the race and get relaxed.”

Aromolaran is still not all the way down from the high of playing a vital role as Thomas Johnson won the Maryland 3A championship last month — the school's first state championship in girls outdoor track.

The Patriots' championship banner soon will be hung next to the “million and one,” as Aromolaran called it, that the Thomas Johnson boys team has won. The sprinter will attend Virginia Tech in the fall. She has talked to a few of the coaches about walking on with the track team there but doesn't have a definite spot yet.

Urbana High's Emily Mulhern won the 3,000 meters, finishing in 11 minutes, and Clarke's teammate, Mary Mowoe, captured second place in the 100-hurdles.

The meet served as a qualifier for Junior Olympics to be held at Morgan State University at the end of July.

tmewhirter@gazette.net