If the Suitland High School boys track program had any bitterness about taking second place to Henry A. Wise by one point in the 4A state championship meet in May, the Rams took out their frustrations on the North Carolina A&T University track last weekend at the New Balance Nationals.
Of the eight events that Suitland runers competed in, there were seven top-five finishes and two victories.
David Winters highlighted the meet for Suitland with his first-place finish in the 200 meters in a sizzling 21.13 seconds.
“I knew he had a chance,” said Suitland coach Malcolm Walker. “I can’t say I knew he was going to win it but I knew he had a chance because he’s a competitor. It’s all new to him and if he’s got competition he’s going to run fast.”
Winters took state titles in the 100 and 200 last month, and last weekend capped his inaugural season of competitive track with a national crown. Walker said Winters was courted by numerous NCAA Division I programs in Greensboro, including Florida State University. Winters is currently picking between several junior colleges and the future after that is unknown.
“I didn’t expect to win,” Winters said. “I was amazed by how fast they were. I thought there would be nobody outside of our area that could run that fast.”
The Suitland 400-meter relay team, which captured the state title in 41.64 seconds, finished fourth in North Carolina, (41.79). The relay team added a fifth-place finish in the 800 medley, fourth in the 800 relay, and second in the 1,000 medley.
“It was wonderful,” Walker said. “The hard work pays off. They’ve been working hard throughout the year and it pays off.”
The Suitland girls had an almost equally head-turning weekend. Sophomore India Griffin led the Rams to a gold medal in the 800 relay for the emerging elite division, which is one step below the championship division.
“When we had other track meets we didn’t run like we should have,” she said, adding that she didn’t expect to win in Greensboro.
But Griffin and the Rams continued to dominate, picking up a second-place finish in the 800 relay and finishing with another top 10 in the 400 relay.
“They just wanted to have fun,” Walker said. “There was no pressure on them.”
Other performers from Prince George’s included Bowie’s Antonella Taylor and Janice George as well as the Laurel sprint relay team. Taylor had a disappointing 23rd-place finish in the emerging elite discus and George was the top Maryland finisher in the 400, breaking 1 minute. The Laurel 800 relay team took 16th, and Christian White capped off the meet with a 16th-place finish in the championship flight of the 400.