Bowie High School runner Joshua Wilkins finished seventh in the boys' Class 4A state cross country championships at McDaniel College on Saturday to lead all Prince George's County representatives with a time of 16 minutes, 16.8 seconds.
Wilkins' coach, Rich Andrulonis, knew that a top-10 finish was likely for the senior despite running on a course he had never seen before.
“Joshua came through with flying colors,” Andrulonis said. “He really had a great race — he finished seventh — and that's about the time he has been running. On Georgetown Prep, he ran 16:14 — that was the only legit 5[-kilometer race] that we ran in for their invitational — and he was almost dead even for what he ran there. If there were a lesser amount of hills and turns, he would have had great chance of breaking 16 minutes.”
The Bulldogs finished 16th as a team, as Donnell Davis (83rd, 18:02.2), Dwaine Thomas (86th, 18:04.8) and Matrell Royal (102nd, 18:23.2) finished in a close bunch, with Lamario Favron (142nd, 19:46.2) not far behind.
Other notable boys' finishers included Justin Bentham of Charles H. Flowers — who finished 80th overall in a time of 17:52.1 — and Adel Akalu (18:06), who came in 93rd for Oxon Hill.
Flowers produced the top two finishers in the girls' 4A race. Alexis Baynes' time of 21:08.7 was good enough to earn her 65th place overall, while teammate Imani Matthews (21:34.4) took 84th.
Bowie, which was without a top competitor in Chyna Sequeria due to injury, received strong performances from Ashley Modeste (121st, 22:55.9), Zari Weaver (134th, 23:35.7) and Felicia Haidara (138th, 23:40.2).
“The girls ran well,” Andrulonis said. “We were missing one of our top girls — Chyna Sequeria, who has Achilles' tendonitis — so we didn't do as well as we had hoped. Fourteen of my 15 girls are underclassmen, and only two of them have run cross country before, so with what they have done this year they have done me proud.”
In 1A boys' action, Northwestern's Ka'yin Walker came in 37th in the team standings with a time of 19:40.6. Three of Walker's teammates were close behind: Keandre Cook (42nd, 19:50.2), Muhenned Mohieldin (53rd, 20:13.7) and Ronald Garner (59th, 20:32.3). The Wildcats finished 11th as a team.
For the girls, Sarah Bellamy paced a Fairmont Heights squad that also claimed 11th in the team standings. She posted a time of 24:10.4 which was good enough for 37th overall.
“The race went by kind of quick,” Bellamy said. “I have never run this quick before, so I just tried to stay up with the top runners but also pace myself. I did well on the hills, because we train on hills, and I had to control my breathing.”
Mercedes Stokes (Central) was the top individual finisher from the county, posting a time of 23.15.3 and finishing in 21st.
“It is a great experience,” Stokes said. “It's my senior year, so I came out strong an just did what my coach told me to. I came in blind [not having seen the course before], but coach told me to stick with the top runners and stay on their shoulder. It was hard, but I did it. I finished.”
Other top-75 finishers included: Vondasia Forbes of Fairmont Heights (49th, 24:36.5), Nikka Taylor of Northwestern (52nd, 24:39.8), Natalie-Rae Jefferson of Northwestern (64th, 25:39.7), Erin Early of Fairmont Heights (65th, 25:40.2), Shantae Byro of Northwestern (68th, 26:13.9) and Jessica Kemoh of Northwestern (74th, 27:27.8).