Last Track to Philly athletes fine tune techniques -- Gazette.Net







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The recent cold snap and inclement weather has made it tough for indoor track and field athletes countywide to train on a track. So, with Tuesday's Montgomery County championship meet, followed by regionals and states next month, many teams looked to use Saturday's Last Track to Philly Invitational, hosted by Georgetown Prep, as a good opportunity to kick start the last stretch of the winter season.

Montgomery County's championship meet was originally scheduled for last week but was postponed when school was cancelled for snow and with the Virginia Tech Invitational scheduled for Thursday and Friday, some teams opted not to overextend themselves Saturday.

“[Saturday] was good coming off all the snow days. It's been a crazy practice schedule lately. It was a good opportunity to get the kids on the track so they can see they've still got it. They're still OK, they're in shape,” Paint Branch coach Dessalyn Dillard said. “We kind of wanted to use [Saturday] to sharpen up a little bit.”

Coaches agreed the Paint Branch boys are shaping up to be the team to beat heading into Tuesday's competition; the Northwest and Clarksburg girls remain top contenders. But Saturday's competition was less team-oriented — there were no team scores — and it was more geared toward individual performances.

The Last Track To Philly Invitational annually draws some of the Washington, D.C. area's top track athletes, as it provides them with a good opportunity earn their qualifying times for April's Penn Relays.

The deadline for Penn Relays is April 1 and with unpredictable March weather, indoor season is the best time to try and meet qualifying marks, said Last Track To Philly meet organizer Greg Dunston. Saturday's competition featured the top 12 times or distances entered in each Penn Relay event.

“I love when our guys get to compete here, being in this meet means that you're part of the elite and it's a great experience,” Georgetown Prep coach Dan Rose said.

Seneca Valley's Tatiana Johnson rebounded quickly from a fourth-place showing in the girls' long jump to win the triple jump. She is seeded to win both events at counties. Walt Whitman's Clare Severe, Erin McClanahan, Reyna Wright and Lela Walter won the girls' distance medley. Frederick Douglass' Desha Manage won the girls' shot put.

Bowie's boys swept the 800-meter (Antonio Coleman, Jonathan George, Justin Beatty, Maxwell Willis) and 1,600-meter (Coleman, Willis, Donnell Davis, Martello Royal) relays.

“We weren't sure what was going to happen with [Last Track to Philly] but we were able to really use the day [to prepare],” Dillard said. “It's always good to come out and compete well against the private schools, it's a definite confidence booster. Fortunately there's a lot of competition in the county as well so usually if you perform well in the county it sets you up for good performances at states.”