Friday, Feb. 8, 2008

2002 All-County Outdoor Track Teams: They were Kings and Queens of the Oval

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Girls Coach of the Year

Nathaniel Laney

Oxon Hill

While Laney has guided the Clipper boys to the elite in the county and state ranks this season, he’s equally deserving for his emerging girl corps. Oxon Hill placed third behind Largo and Roosevelt at the county finals, then placed second at the 4A South meet. The Clippers garnered eighth at the state championships with seniors Dionna Gunter, Latisha Jackson and Brittney McLendon leading the way. They’re set to become a major factor with underclassmen Stephanie Gunter, Bettya Burgess, DeAnna Daniel, Jamilla Minus, Bobbi Brooks and Cynthia Bossard set to return next season.

Girls Track Performer of the Year

India Ransom

Largo, Sr.

Sprints

Ransom rarely likes talking about her performances, but she never had to because they were usually breathtaking. She went unbeaten in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, winning the high school version of the Triple Crown (county, region and state title) in both. At the state 4A meet at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, she set the record in the 100 with an 11.64 second clocking in the semifinals. Ransom added a third sweep in the long jump as she won three events at the county championships for the second consecutive year. She’s a three-time Star⁄Gazette All-County Outdoor first-team pick and two-time track performer of the year.

Girls Field Performer of the Year

Elizabeth Jackson

Suitland, Jr.

Triple jump

Jackson emerged as a force in the county ranks this season. She won the triple jump event at the state 4A championship (37-feet, 9 inches) after claiming the South region title (37-9) at Flowers. Only a second-place finish to Largo’s Sirdonea Davis at the county finals kept Jackson from the triple crown, but she compiled 20 of the Rams’ 48 points at the county meet. She was runner-up in the long jump to Ransom and placed fourth in the shot put (31-9.5). She captured third in the long jump (16-5) and shot put (30-4) events at the South region meet.

Boys Coach of the Year

Maurice Wright

Gwynn Park

Wright’s squad didn’t have the numbers of county strongholds that Suitland, Oxon Hill and Roosevelt did, but it was just as effective. After nearly winning the state Class 3A⁄2A indoor championship last winter, Wright challenged the Yellow Jackets to take another step, and they did, winning the state 3A outdoor title. After finishing second to Annapolis at the 3A East region meet, Gwynn Park nipped the Anne Arundel County school by two points at the states. Annapolis bested the Yellow Jackets for the state indoor championship. The Brandywine school became the first non-county 4A boys squad since Forestville (1A) in 1995 to collect a state title trophy.

Boys Track Performer of the Year

Herbert Nicholls

Gwynn Park, Sr.

Sprints

When Nicholls failed to garner attention from college football recruiters last fall, he hoped track would attract college scouts. Nicholls got a scholarship from Morgan State University, and along the way became one of the county’s most dominant performers. He won the triple crown in the 200 and 400 including a state 3A-record 47.48 second clocking in the 400 at the state finals. The outstanding track performer at the county finals, Nicholls also helped Gwynn Park to state titles in the 400 and 800 relay.

Boys Track Performer of the Year

Deyon Williams

Suitland, Jr.

Jumps

There wasn’t anything Williams didn’t do for the Rams. He nearly claimed the Triple Crown in the high jump, taking the county (6-6) and South region (6-2) titles before finishing fourth at the state 4A competition (6-4). In the long jump, Williams won the region championship (22-2) and was runner-up at the county (22-0) and state finals (22-6.5). Williams, who transferred from McNamara, was equally as impressive in the hurdles, winning the state 300 (38.43) and the county and region 110 events in 14.57 and 14.7 seconds, respectively.

Girls First Team

Victoria Carey, sprints

DuVal, Sr.

Carey won the 200-meter competition (26.3 seconds) at the 2A South region meet at Flowers before placing second at the state championships. She placed second to eventual state champ Tiffany Duncan of Central in the region 400 and was third at the state finals.

Denise Cruse, sprints

Seton, Sr.

Headed to Clemson University on a track scholarship, Cruse was the driving force behind Seton’s stranglehold of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title. She swept the 100 (12.5), 200 (25.61) and 400 (54.63) competitions at the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference finals for the second time in three seasons and was the final leg on the winning 800-meter relay squad. Cruse is a three-time Star⁄Gazette All-County outdoor first team selection.

Kaprice Williams, sprints

Roosevelt, Sr.

Williams was a bright spot in a disappointing postseason for the Raiders. She was runner-up to Largo’s India Ransom in the 100 and 200 at the county and 4A South region meets for the Greenbelt school, which placed third at regionals and sixth at the state finals. Williams, who will run for Clemson, won the 100 event (12.95) at the Capital Beltway Classic at Roosevelt.

Crystal Anyanwu, middle distance

Roosevelt, Jr.

Arguably the best 800 performer in the state, Anyanwu captured her third consecutive state 4A title, clocking 2:14.21 to complete a postseason sweep. At the South region meet, she placed first in the 1,600 (5:30.1) and was a leg on the 1,600 relay squad that captured fourth at the Championship of America finals at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. Anyanwu was also a part of the county and region winning 3,200 relay team.

Sirdonea Davis, middle distance

Largo, Soph.

Davis was one of several underclassmen that aided the Lions’ charge to a third consecutive county title. She won the county (56.48) and South region (56.7) titles in the 400 before placing second at the state finals. Davis did get the Triple Crown as a member of the 400 relay squad and helped the Lions to a third-place spot in the Large Schools finals at the Penn Relays.

Tiffany Duncan, middle distance

Central, Sr.

Thanks to Duncan, the Falcons continued to be a competitive entity despite a lack of numbers. She won the state 2A (57.72) and South region (58.8) titles in the 400 after placing second at the county finals. Duncan, who will attend Temple University on a track scholarship, was a member of the state and region champion 1,600 relay squad.

Stephanie Gunter, distance

Oxon Hill, Fr.

Gunter definitely made an impact in her first varsity campaign. She swept the 1,600 (5:27.49) and 3,200 (13:00.45) competitions at the county championships, helping the Clippers to a third-place finish. Gunter placed third in the 1,600 at the 4A South regionals before finishing sixth at the state finals.

Jessica Neal, distance

Riverdale Baptist, Jr.

Neal was maybe the most unheralded runner in the county this season. She won the 1,600 and 3,200 competitions at the Morgan State University Invitational (5:34.79 and 11:51.93), Katie Jenkins Invitational at Sherwood and the Association of Christian Schools International Championships in Bangor, Pa. Neal garnered top honors in the 800 (2:22.78) and 1,600 (5:15.15) at the MACSA Invitational at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

Krista Brown, hurdles

Central, Sr.

Brown missed winning a second straight state 2A 100 championship but came through in the 300 hurdles, taking the title in 46.29 seconds. She placed first in the 300 hurdles (47.1) and 100 (12.6) at the South region meet and was runner-up in the 100 hurdles. A repeat first-team selection, Brown was a member of the region and state-winning 1,600 relay squad.

Romona Modeste, hurdles

Roosevelt, Jr.

Along with Flowers’ Tiffany Nesfield, Modeste is among the best hurdlers in the country. She won her second straight state 4A 300 hurdles championship (43.45) and was second to Flowers’ Tiffany Nesfield in the 100, falling short of another repeat. Her 59.83 clocking in the 400 hurdles at the Jaguar Invitational was tops in the nation this spring.

Tiffany Nesfield, hurdles

Flowers, Soph.

Nesfield has already accomplished as much as most seniors. She enjoyed a second straight triple crown campaign in the 100 hurdles (14.86), edging defending champ Modeste for the state 4A title. Nesfield won the 100 (14.37) and 300 (43.39) hurdles on her home track in Springdale at the county championships, earning the Willard Memorial Award as the meet’s top female track performer.

Kendra Burk, discus

Suitland, Jr.

Burk won her second straight county championship in the discus (110-4) before claiming the competition at the 4A South regional (113-6). She placed fourth at the state finals and was seventh in the shot put event. Burk was runner-up in the shot put at the South regional after placing sixth at the county finals.

Shana Walker, high jump

Douglass, Sr.

Walker captured top honors in the high jump (4-feet, 10 inches) at the county championships, the first individual champion from the Upper Marlboro school since 1999. She placed sixth in the event at the 3A East region meet and was runner-up in the long jump. Walker took seventh in the long jump event at the state finals.

Michelle Nowden, long jump

Seton, Sr.

The Virginia Tech-bound Nowden was part of the senior nucleus that won four straight WCAC outdoor championships. She won the long jump title (18-8) and was runner-up to Cruse in the 100 and 200 dashes at the conference finals. Nowden won the long jump at the Beltway Classic (16-10).

Tatiana Roper, pole vault

Laurel, Sr.

The Spartans could probably rename the county pole vault event after themselves, and Roper has played a role. She won her second consecutive title with a county-record vault of 8-7. Laurel has won the competition since its inception in 1996. Roper won the 4A South region title (8-feet) before finishing fifth at the state finals.

Quiteelia Boyd, shot put

Laurel, Soph.

One of the county’s up-and-coming softball catchers, Boyd put her left arm to good use for the Spartans track squad. She won the shot put competition (34-11) at the county championships and was third in the discus. Boyd won the shot put at the county indoor finals last winter, earning Star⁄Gazette first team honors.

Boys First Team

Josh Allen, sprints

Roosevelt, Sr.

The University of Maryland-bound Allen gave Terps’ football followers a good look at his explosive talents this spring. He was runner-up in the 100 at the county, South region and state meets where he lost to Gaithersburg’s Damon Hill by a tenth of a second (11.14 to 11.15 seconds). Allen, a Star⁄Gazette All-County first teamer in football and indoor track, was a part of the Raiders’ 400 relay team that was runner-up in the Large Schools finals at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.

Jovon Hawkins, sprints

Douglass, Sr.

Hawkins didn’t compete at the county championships, but he was impressive at the region and state meets. He placed fourth in the 100 (11.24) at the state 3A finals after a blistering 10.3 at the 3A East regionals. Hawkins captured sixth in the 200 at regionals.

Paul Young, sprints

Oxon Hill, Sr.

Young played a key role in the Clippers’ run to the county championship this season. He captured the 100 title (11.01) and was second in the 200 and 400 events before sweeping all three at the 4A South region meet. Young, last winter’s Star⁄Gazette Indoor Track Performer of the Year, went on to claim the 200 (21.91) and 400 (47.85) title at the state finals.

Yaphet Cross, middle distance

Suitland, Soph.

Though Suitland failed to repeat as county and state 4A champions, Cross gave the District Heights program a major boost this season. He placed second in the 800 at the South region (1:59.3) meet, and was third at the county finals. Cross, who was sixth in the event at the state championships, was a leg on the county champion 1,600 relay squad.

Tim Riley, middle distance

Suitland, Sr.

Along with Deyon Williams, Riley nearly brought Suitland a second consecutive state 4A title and third straight county championship. Only a second-place finish to Gaithersburg’s Bryan Steele at the state finals kept the High Point University-bound Riley from a postseason sweep of the 800. He won the county (38.42) and South region (39.4) 300 hurdle title and was a leg on the Rams’ county championship 1,600 relay team.

Ryan Robinson, middle distance

Bowie, Sr.

Part of the Bulldogs’ county and 4A South region championship 3,200 relay team, Robinson was among the top middle distance performers in the county. He claimed first in the 800 at the 4A South region meet (1:58.6) after placing second at the county finals. Robinson, who placed fourth at the state finals, helped Bowie to third place in the county and region standings.

Ronnie Greenfield, distance

Roosevelt, Jr.

A first-team Star⁄Gazette pick during the fall cross country campaign, Greenfield was the Raiders’ main distance performer in the spring. He captured the 3,200 title at the 4A South regional (10:31.1) after finishing second at the county finals. Greenfield was eighth in the event at the state championships.

Issac Matthews, distance

Oxon Hill, Jr.

Matthews was the unsung hero in Oxon Hill’s rise this track season. At the county finals, he won the 1,600 (4:38.16) and 3,200 (10:31.58) titles before taking first in the 1,600 at the 4A South regional (4:39.5).

A first team Star⁄Gazette All-County indoor pick last winter, Matthews was part of the 1,600 relay team that placed fourth at the Championship of America finals at the Penn Relays.

Larry Hawkins, hurdles

Gwynn Park, Sr.

The Star⁄Gazette All-County Indoor Field Performer of the Year last winter, Hawkins played an instrumental role in the Brandywine school claiming the state 3A championship this spring. He won the state title in the 300 hurdles (39.77), sacrificing his body with a head-first dive at the finish line. A member of the state finalist basketball team, Hawkins won the competition at the 3A East region meet (39.7) and was the county long jump champ (22-2).

Josh Wilson, hurdles

DeMatha, Jr.

Wilson was again at the center of another championship run by the Stags. He swept the 110 (15.01) and 300 (40.32) hurdle competitions at the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference finals at Gallaudet University as the Hyattsville school placed second to Gonzaga after winning back-to-back titles. Wilson, a repeat first team All-County pick, was the opening leg on the first-place 400 and 800 relay squads.

Leif Crago, discus

Bowie, Jr.

The Willard Memorial Award recipient for being the top male field performer at the county finals, Crago was nearly invincible this season. He swept the discus and shot put competitions at the county (139-1 and 52-3) and 4A South region (159-0 and 55-8) meets before falling shy of the Triple Crown at the state meet with a fifth-place showing in the discus and a runner-up spot in the shot put. A Star⁄Gazette All-County first teamer during the indoor season, Crago won the shot put event at the Morgan State, Evans-Luce and Knights Invitationals.

Mike Smith, pole vault

Oxon Hill, Sr.

His triumph in the pole vault event (9-0) at the county finals was arguably the turning point in the Oxon Hill’s title victory. The Clippers held off Suitland by 5.5 points as Smith’s showing was the only field event the Rams didn’t score in. Smith’s win was the first field title by an Oxon Hill male since 1984, and the school’s first in the event.

Fred Ballenger, shot put

Potomac, Jr.

Only a runner-up showing at the county championships kept Ballenger from a postseason sweep. He claimed the shot put (55-5.5) and discus (144-3) event at the 2A South region meet before taking the state title in the shot (53-3.5). Ballenger placed third in the discus at the county and state finals.

Jason Patterson, triple jump

Bowie, Sr.

The county champ in the triple jump during indoors, Patterson followed with the outdoor title (46-1.5). He won the 4A South region championship (43-9.5) before taking third at the state finals. Patterson was a member of the Bulldogs’ 3,200 relay team that placed fifth in the Championship of America finals at the Penn Relays.