The James H. Blake High School indoor track and field team brought only five girls to the Class 4A state meet, none of whom had been there before.
But facing deeper, more experienced competition, the team wasn’t intimidated. Quite the contrary.
With a small squad — and only three open event participants — the Bengals not only earned third place, but sent a message that there’s a new era for Blake track and field.
Under first-year coach Brandon Tynes, Blake finished with 34 points, just behind Clarksburg (34.5) and within reach of first-place South River (43.5) of Anne Arundel County.
Each of Blake’s five runners stepped up in the Jan. 18 state championship meet held in the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.
Junior Martha Sam won the 300 meters and set a school record (40.01 seconds) while placing third in the 55 meters (7.32) for Blake, which did not have any girls participate in last year’s indoor state meet.
“I’m pretty happy with the way we did,” said Sam, who also ran in the relay competitions. “… Last year we didn’t make it and this year I was able to not only make it but get four medals and place in every event that I ran in.”
Adesanya, a second-year varsity runner, placed seventh in the 500 (1:19.87). She has dropped 13 seconds off of her time by working harder in practice and focusing more on strategy, she said.
“As an individual, my mindset has completely changed compared to how it was last year,” Adesanya said. “… I decided if I’m going to do a drill a certain way, I’m going to do it perfectly each time so that when it comes time to compete, I can show that same diligence.”
Junior Sarah Moore took fifth in the 300 (42.04) to round out Blake’s open event runners.
The 1,600 (4:03.75) and 800 (1:46.39) relay teams both placed third and were aided by junior Kaela Jones and sophomore Onesty Peoples, respectively.
“Everyone else has improved pretty well,” Sam said.
With a small group at states, Blake’s open event runners were needed in most of the events.
“There’s no break,” Adesanya said. “There’s no picking up your cell phone, there’s no talking to anyone. That can be very tiring at times.”
Tynes said he wanted to establish a winning culture for Blake track by restructuring the team and getting more out of practices and workouts.
“I think once they started seeing how much better they were doing and how their bodies were changing — they were stronger — they really started buying into the program,” Tynes said. “… Once that started happening, things really fell in place.”
After the successful winter, the girls have high expectations heading into the outdoor season.
“I believe that indoor season has definitely showed us how much more we have to work and how much more we’re going to do,” Adesanya said.