It appeared for awhile on Tuesday that it would be an unusually quiet day for the teams and athletes from Prince George's County during the Class 4A/3A state indoor track and field championship meet at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.
What the county's athletes have accomplished over the years goes without mentioning, but the 2013 season appeared to be on the way to producing the fewest victories in recent history for Prince George's.
For most of the meet, the lone state champion hailing from a county school came via a victory by the Oxon Hill High School boys 3,200-meter relay team in the opening race of the meet.
The next victory for the county came in the final third of the meet by way of the Bowie High girls 800 relay team. Briana Goodman, Lexus Ramsey, Latrease Magwood and Janice George won with a time of 1 minute, 44.1 seconds.
Little did the Bulldogs' faithful know that was the start of one of the most gutsy performances longtime coach Richard Andrulonis has seen a team achieve on their way to a state title. The Bowie girls (54 points) outlasted North Point (51 points) to walk away with their second consecutive Class 4A indoor crown.
“We had some disappointing things happen,” said the veteran Andrulonis, alluding to junior Antonella Taylor losing for the first time all season in the shot put, a mishap in the girls' 500 that led to only a fourth-place finish and other shortcomings. “North Point had us by three points, and I told the girls we needed to win the last two relays to beat North Point. That was the biggest surge I have ever seen. It's unbelievable that they came through. It was like a miracle the way that happened.”
With her team in second place in the 800 relay, Ramsey pulled her team ahead for good on the second leg.
“I felt positive and I kept my head in the game even though my knee was hurting. I wanted to go out there and do it for the team. We worked so hard to get this,” Goodman said.
The Clarksburg boys (67 points) captured the 4A team crown while the Digital Harbor boys took the 3A title (49 points). Hereford won the girls 3A (66.67 points)
In the finale — the 1,600 relay — the Bulldogs' team of Taylor Williams, Magwood, Ramsey and George won with a blazing time of 4:01.48.
Given that Oxon Hill is currently being rebuilt and the school has no use of its outdoor facilities, Clippers coach Rick Johnson was proud of his relay team.
“That's the heart and soul of the team,” Williams said of the 3,200 relay quartet. “It's obvious they put in the most work and work the hardest, it's paid off. We don't have any facilities and all of this training comes in the hallway. It's hurt us speed-wise, but we're just trying to work through it.”
Oxon Hill's team of Rami Phillips, Vernon Swanson, Ike Olumese and Antonio DaCosta staved off a furious rally from North Point High and won with a time of 8:14.71
After claiming the 2012 girls indoor shot put crown, Taylor had a decent outing (41-4), but was edged by Clarksburg's Claudia Ababio (42-7).
But the county did have a second-place finisher that was proud of her effort as Eleanor Roosevelt senior Jori Cook finished second in the girls 55 hurdles with a time of 8.29 seconds, behind defending champion and Thomas S. Wootton High senior Gwen Shaw (8.18 seconds).
“Gwen pushed me,” Cook said. “I just wanted to focus on getting a good start. It went pretty well. I knew I had to get mad to get a good time. I just thought about how long it took me to get here. Sophomore year, I made it to the states but didn't get to the final. My junior year, I came in fifth and this year I got second.”
Henry A. Wise High senior Joel Thomas (6.55 seconds) missed out on a victory in the 55 dash by one one-hundredth of a second, losing to North Point's Denzel Hill (6.54 seconds). Thomas wasn't nearly as thrilled as Cook.
“I thought I was just trying to work on my drafting with my hands and arms,” Thomas said. “I'm disappointed that I lost, I fell short of the school record, so that's what it is.”