As if Dondre Echols hasn’t done enough already this season, he went ahead and proved himself again.
The 2012 Potomac High School graduate ran a blistering 13.56-second time to win the 110-meter hurdles at the USA Track and Field Junior Outdoor Championships last weekend in Bloomington, Ind. The victory, against a field that included college athletes, qualified Echols for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, July 10-15.
“The amazing thing about that race is that, from what I hear, he ran into a strong headwind,” said recently retired Potomac coach Stan Mullins. “Had that not been there he probably would have been around 13.2 or 13.3. When he goes to Barcelona that time is gonna be there for him.”
The University of South Carolina recruit has seen international competition before when he and the Potomac relay nucleus traveled to the University of Pennsylvania for the Penn Relays in April. He helped lead Potomac to the top American finish in the 400-meter relay. That same relay team went on to break a Maryland outdoor record at the state championship meet at the end of May. Meanwhile, Echols broke three more state records individually between the 300 and 110 hurdles.
“I think if I work hard these next two weeks, if I work extremely hard, I can do good,” Echols said.
Echols, who has never left the country, admits he’s a bit nervous about the flight to Spain. His former teammate, Ron Darby, a Florida State University recruit, had never been outside the U.S. before he left for a meet in Japan during the 2011 indoor season.
“Once he got settled in and got comfortable he was fine,” Mullins said of Darby. “Even though [Echols] hasn’t had an international experience he’s gone up against the best in the nation.”
Echols was joined in Indiana last weekend by Henry A. Wise graduate Champ Page and Frederick Douglass graduate Kyle Smith. Page, an Ohio State University recruit, used a 47.59 second preliminary time in the 400 to qualify for the finals, which were held on Sunday afternoon.
He lowered that time by 0.19 seconds to finish seventh, putting him outside the cut for the American team by just one spot. It initially appeared Page had earned the rights to a red, white, and blue uniform, but at the last minute the qualifying standards were changed from the top seven finishers to the top six, putting Page tantalizingly close to the mark.
“He was with national competition,” said Wise coach Fardan Carter. “It’s the top elite high school athletes and the top kids who have been competing in college for a year. He was upset but enjoyed the opportunity and competition. It’s an experience that he can learn from and now his focus is on the [USA Track and Field Nationals] at Morgan State later this summer.”
Smith, a versatile all-around athlete who led Douglass to a 2A state title, finished 18th in the decathlon and missed the cut. He will be heading to South Carolina to compete for Clemson University next year.