Good Counsel junior No. 3 in U.S. in 200m sprint
Three of the Montgomery County schools competing at New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championship Meet in North Carolina cracked the top five earning All-American statuses in two boys’ events and two girls’ relays.
Good Counsel junior Darnell Pratt placed third in the 200-meter championship finals with a time of 20.94 seconds. Bullis sophomore Eric Allen (21.34) missed the cut and finished 12th in the event.
James H. Blake senior Ty Mason (7.27 meters, or 23 feet and 10.25 inches) placed fourth in the boys’ long jump championship.
Bullis School’s girls’ relay team ran and took fifth place in both the 4×100-meter relay and the 4×400-meter relay. Junior Alexis Postell, freshman Lauryn Harris, freshman Sierra Leonard and sophomore Masai Russell comprised the top relay team representing the school for each race.
Bullis head coach Joe Lee said the team’s schedule this season included several competitive meets which prepared the girls for those with similar stakes to New Balance Nationals. The runners had raced against several New Balance meet participants during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
“A lot of these teams we’ve seen before so it’s not surprising to us,” said Lee, later adding “(We say), ‘Let’s just go and do what we normally do.’ It takes the pressure off of them to some degree, although you can never quite replicate the national (championship) finals.”
He said the previous races prepared the current relay team.
“The exciting thing about the four by four (hundred) came into play because we had done it before successfully; we finally had all of our runners healthy,” said Lee.
Lee said Bullis lost one of its 4×400-meter legs between New Balance Nationals Indoor and Penn Relays due to an injury. While the 4×400-meter relay team ranked No. 4 for the New Balance Indoor National Championship, the team was without a key runner, Mia Gyau.
Lee said Gyau was injured at Penn Relays and later had to retire for the season. He said he was happy that the team’s 4×100-meter relay leg Postell was able to step up and also run the 4×400-meter race.
Relay legs running at similar paces was crucial to the team’s performance in the 4×100-meter relay, said Lee.
“Timing’s important– the timing in terms of making sure that the baton is passed within the zone and that both runners are at the right speed so that the baton will get passed,” said Lee.
If the timing is slightly different between two runners, that could jeopardize the chances of the runners exchanging the baton within the required zone, resulting in disqualification.
County teams also ranked in the top five in the less competitive, emerging elite races, which do not award All-American statuses.
Paint Branch High School’s girls’ distance medley relay team placed first in the emerging elite race with a time of 12:01 minutes. Sophomore Yasmine Kass started the race, followed by senior Precious Igwebuike; junior and 4A 800-meter state champion Kyra Badrian ran third leg and senior Bethlehem Taye finished the race as anchor.
Paint Branch head coach Desalyn Dillard said Kass set the tone for the team’s performance by running a consistent, steady pace in the front of the pack.
“Her pace was little bit more consistent which allowed her to have a stronger finish,” said Dillard.
Dillard pointed out that Badrian has been undefeated in the 800-meter run since before the state championship.
She said although she knew her runners had the potential to finish first, Taye and Sachem East’s Alexandra DiCicco passed each other in the final legs a few times.
“They were kind of going a little bit back and forth; Beth (Taye) just kind of took over and didn’t look back,” said Dillard.
Northwest High School (41.98 seconds) 4×100-meter boys relay placed 12th in the championship preliminary race. Junior Khaloni Mganga, and seniors Davino Frazer, Andrew Daniels and Shyheim Wright comprised the team.
Head coach Robert Youngblood said team anchor Wright told him that an injury in the final 20 meters of the race slowed the Northwest senior down and Wright had to jog to the finish line. Youngblood, who did not attend the meet, said he was content nonetheless with the relay team’s performance overall.