Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One for the record book Seven standards fall at county championship meet

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Laurie DeWitt⁄The Gazette
Northwood’s Keith Hudson wins the 300-meter intermediate hurdles at last Thursday’s Montgomery County Track and Field Championships. The victory makes Hudson the first Northwood track athlete to claim a county title since the school reopened for the 2004-05 school year.
Whitman senior Leslie Morrison set the tone with a sizzling anchor leg in the girls 4x800-meter relay, the very first event at last Thursday’s Montgomery County Track and Field Championships at Churchill in Potomac. Damascus senior Wil Zahorodny iced the cake in the night’s final individual race, the boys 800 meters.

Zahorodny and the Vikings girls set two of the seven meet records to fall Thursday, an all-around red-number night for the county’s top track and field athletes.

‘‘It’s certainly not a fast day, but temperatures are cool for distance races,” said meet director and Quince Orchard coach Seann Pelkey. ‘‘You’ve got a great senior class, and an awesome younger group. It’s just the right formula.”

Last year also saw seven meet records fall, but four were at the hands (and feet) of Churchill’s Audrey Gariepy-Bogui. All four of those marks still stand, but plenty of others went by the wayside.

At next week’s regional meets, qualifying for states in as many events as possible becomes the focus. The county meet is widely considered the place for top athletes to let ’er rip.

That’s certainly what was on Zahorodny’s mind in the 800. After twice setting the nation’s fastest 300 time during the indoor season, the senior bumped up in distance and blistered a 52-second first lap, with Gaithersburg’s Antonio Palmer right on his shoulder.

By the time he reached the final 100 meters, Zahorodny was alone on the track, but had the entire crowd behind him. His time of 1 minute, 51.15 seconds bested the old mark by more than three seconds.

‘‘I did a 1:52 split earlier this year and was trying to duplicate that race,” Zahorodny said. ‘‘It was kind of amazing coming down that last straight and seeing the clock still in the 1:40s. That’s when I realized.”

Zahorodny’s body of work spans four years; it took Wootton’s Olivia Ekponé less than one to prove herself the county’s greatest female high school sprinter, ever. Eight days after being diagnosed with walking pneumonia, Ekponé took gold in all three sprint events, setting county records in the 100 (11.79 seconds) and 400 (54.61 seconds).

She also came within 0.24 seconds of the record of 24.30 seconds in the 200. It’s a time Ekponé has bettered in the past; then again, unlike other athletes, her season doesn’t end in late May.

‘‘After states I have Junior Olympics, and I’m also trying out for the 2008 Olympics this year,” Ekponé said. ‘‘When I first had [walking pneumonia], I thought it was just a cold. So I went to school, and it got worse. ... My coaches kept telling me to eat a lot of food, which is what the doctors recommended, because I was really weak.”

The Olympic Trials will be held in Eugene, Oregon and begin June 27.

The fourth individual record to fall Thursday was in the boys 1,600 meters, at the hands of Walter Johnson’s Chris Moen (see related article, above).

Morrison overtook runners from Northwest and Churchill on the last lap of Whitman’s record-setting 4x800 race (9:22.14). Morrison, Morgane Gay, Gabe McKenzie and Liza Schalch re-set the standard set by the Vikings in 2006, a team that also included Morrison and Gay.

Quince Orchard followed moments later with another record in the boys 4x800 (7:49.59). Wayne Bartholomew, Ryan Priovolos, David Laratta and Josh Joson smashed the three-year old mark of 7:55.40 and became the first county squad to break 7:50.

‘‘I have the baton, thinking, ‘Sweet, if I run two [minutes] flat, we have the record and the school record,’” Joson said of his anchor leg. ‘‘I’m 200 into it, and I see Coach Pelkey and he goes, ‘Josh, if you run 1:58, we go under 7:50.’ So that got me really pumped.”

Blair swept the other three boys relays, including a county record in the 4x200 (1:28.62). The Blazers also got individual sprint wins in the 200 (Jonathon Haughton) and 400 (Louis Varella).

In the team races, Ekponé led Wootton’s girls to the title, following up on their indoor championship. The boys race was a nail-biter with four teams within 14 points, but it was Clarksburg that came out on top. In only its second year of existence and as one of the county’s smallest schools, Clarksburg leaned on tremendous depth in the sprint events, including two point-scorers each in the 100 and 400, and three in the 200.

‘‘I can’t say I expected to win, but I knew we had a shot if we had a good day,” Clarksburg coach Scott Mathias said. ‘‘The guys really stepped up. We had 13 compete, and 12 scored.”

Notes: While Clarksburg’s boys won the team title, the other new kid on the block, Northwood, had something to boast, as well. By winning the 300 hurdles, Keith Hudson became the school’s first individual county champion since it reopened its doors for the 2004-05 school year. ... Richard Montgomery’s Tyler Jackson suffered a right hamstring injury during the final of the boys 110 hurdles, in which he was seeded first. Coach Matt Wheeler said he believed Jackson would be ready in time for the regional meet, but it’s been a tough spring for the Rockets, who lost dominant 200⁄400 runner Brendan Etzel to a season-ending injury a few weeks ago. ... Blair’s Johanna Gretschel won the girls 1,600 with a personal-record time of 5:11.81; the number, and win, were doubly significant because May 11 (5⁄11) was Gretschel’s birthday. ... No surprise, Gaithersburg’s Sean Stanley and Sherwood’s Arleigh Rose swept the two throwing events for their respective genders.

Girls 100: Olivia Ekponé, Wootton, 11.79*

Boys 100: Avery Graham, Clarksburg, 10.91

Girls 200: Olivia Ekponé, Wootton, 24.54

Boys 200: Jonathon Haughton, Blair, 22.04

Girls 400: Olivia Ekponé, Wootton, 54.61*

Boys 400: Louis Varella, Blair, 48.48

Girls 800: Morgane Gay, Whitman, 2:17.11

Boys 800: Wil Zahorodny, Damascus, 1:51.15*

Girls 1,600: Johanna Gretschel, Blair, 5:11.18

Boys 1,600: Chris Moen, Walter Johnson, 4:13.05*

Girls 3,200: Britt Eckerstrom, Northwest, 11:19.40

Boys 3,200: Neal Darmody, Quince Orchard, 9:33.02

Girls 100 hurdles: Amirah Polite, Churchill, 15.18

Boys 110 hurdles: Petros Bein, Clarksburg, 14.71

Girls 300 hurdles: Olivia Durr, Poolesville, 44.98

Boys 300 hurdles: Keith Hudson, Northwood, 39.81

Girls 4x100 relay: Gaithersburg, 48.84

Boys 4x100 relay: Blair, 44.15

Girls 4x200 relay: Gaithersburg, 1:44.79

Boys 4x200 relay: Blair, 1:28.62*

Girls 4x400 relay: Whitman, 4:03.97

Boys 4x400 relay: Blair, 3:22.94

Girls 4x800 relay: Whitman, 9:22.14*

Boys 4x800 relay: Quince Orchard, 7:49.59*

Girls shot put: Arleigh Rose, Sherwood, 34-2

Boys shot put: Sean Stanley, Gaithersburg, 56-5

Girls discus: Arleigh Rose, Sherwood, 118-8

Boys discus: Sean Stanley, Gaithersburg, 153-0

Girls long jump: Romula Hawthorne, Kennedy, 17-0

Boys long jump: Anthony Young-Wiseman, Whitman, 21-10

Girls high jump: Monica Gerald, Blake, 5-4

Boys high jump: Ebou Touray, Springbrook, 6-0

Girls triple jump: Thea LaFond, Kennedy, 36-6.25

Boys triple jump: Ian Francis, Walter Johnson, 46-1.75

Girls pole vault: Liz Calhoun, Wootton, 8-0

Boys pole vault: Joffrey Alcidor, Springbrook, 11-0