One of the most memorable seasons by a Prince George's athlete has finally come to a close.
Potomac High School's Dondre Echols finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles at the IAAF World Junior track and field championships in Barcelona, Spain. He was the only American to qualify for the finals, using times of 13.74 seconds and 13.71 to make it to the championship race.
“Three days in a row was really kind of tough,” said Wolverine coach Stan Mullins, who retired after leading Potomac to a 3A state title. “It's pretty unusual for Dondre. To run back to back to back is tough.”
The event is one that Echols has not lost in local competition in more than two years and one in which he broke the Maryland state record twice on Memorial Day weekend at Morgan State University.
“He's had a fantastic year,” Mullins said. “He was All-Met athlete of the year and of course [The Gazette] athlete of the year, a state champion in three events, virtually didn't lose a race in this outdoor season. He has had a tremendous high school career.”
Echols qualified for the event after shining in Bloomington, Ind., for the Junior Nationals, taking first in the event with a 13.56-second time. The field included the nation's top athletes ranking through the collegiate level.
“The amazing thing about that race is that, from what I hear, he ran into a strong headwind,” said Mullins after Echols won in Indiana. “Had that not been there he probably would have been around 13.20 or 13.30.”
After the meet, Echols said that “I think if I work hard these next two weeks, if I work extremely hard, I can do good.”
Not even hard work or a 13.2 could have granted the future South Carolina Gamecock the ability to take down Cuba's Yordan O'Farrill, who took the World Junior hurdling crown by .09 seconds with a 13.18.
“He was in some fast company,” Mullins said. “The kid from Cuba is a really exceptional athlete. To run a 13.1 is really, really quite something.”
Echols was joined by future South Carolina teammates Erika Rucker (400) and Jeannelle Scheper (high jump.)