The Northwest Jaguars varsity boys and girls track teams won the outdoor state championship at Morgan State University during the weekend.
Northwest senior Khaloni Mganga said concentration was key to the boys’ team winning the overall championship. It was “our complete focus and our dedication,” said Mganga.
He ran the anchor leg in the winning 4×200-meter relay team, which finished with a time of 1:27.54 minutes.
“To be honest, it was as planned – I don’t know how to describe it,” Mganga said of the relay, later adding, “I think all of us did our jobs and our roles to get the win and break the school record.”
Northwest senior Chase Osborne, a mid-distance runner and member of the 4x200m relay, said he believes adaptability of several athletes enable the team’s continued success despite graduating top athletes at the end of each outdoor season.
“Honestly the team gets stronger every year somehow – we just somehow are able to fill in all the spaces that we lose,” Osborne said.
Three of the four legs of the 2017 state championship 4x800m relay team graduated last year. The 2018 team (7:52.75 minutes) placed well enough to score points – second place.
“None of us even thought that was going to happen,” said Osborne, about placing second.
Although this was the third consecutive team victory for the boys team, the only time girls team won was 2011, according to head coach Robert Youngblood.
Osborne said the sprinters and the distance runners are close knit with each other, which strengthens the team and enables their great performance.
“I guess I have to really congratulate the girls team for, you know, winning,” Osborne said, later adding, “They’ve been working for that for a while. For them to finally pull it off, I mean, it’s a really big deal.”
In the girls’ track competitions, two athletes earned championship titles in multiple events, specifically Northwest junior Taylor Wright and Walter Johnson senior Abbey Green, who won three of their events.
Wright won three championship titles and one for second place, earning 38 points for her school’s team, picking up 48 percent of the score. She took first place in the high jump, triple jump, the 100m dash and the 200m dash.
She said the hardest event was the final one – the 200m dash finals. She found motivation in thinking of her team.
“I wanted to do good for my team and get points because I knew they were counting on me a lot,” Wright said about the 200m dash.
It’s the most events she’s won at a state championship meet, for either indoor track or outdoor track.
“It’s kind of unbelievable, honestly,” said Wright. “It’s like, to be able to do that in 4A, it’s really crazy.”
Leading up to the 100m dash finals and the 200m dash finals, she said she focused on clearing her mind. Immediately before both races, she competed in a jumping event.
Green won the 3200m, the 1600m and the 800m runs, an honor which some distance runners call winning “triple distance.”
Green also won the 3200m run in 2017. “It means a lot that I won two years in a row, state titles are always an honor,” Green said.
Her main events are the 1600m and the 3200m, but she chose to run the 800m run as well. Instead of leading, she ran behind the fast group, then moved in front of the pack, but then another runner passed her. She found extra energy in the fact that it was her final race of high school track and she wanted to win the 800m.
“Knowing that that was my last 100 meters – I really wanted to try to get the triple-win,” Green said. “I thought of how much I wanted that, that I ended up having more speed than I thought I would.”
Bethesda-Chevy Chase senior Josh Fry, the 2018 1600m run state champion said he won the race in the last 50 meters. Fry finished in 4:19.43 minutes, followed by Northwood junior Obsaa Feda in second (4:19.88 minutes) and Severna Park junior Garrison Clark in third (4:20.21minutes).
Fry said his strategy was to match his pace with the fastest runners for as long as he was able to keep up. A couple times the group sped up, and Fry kept up with them anyway. With 300 meters of the race remaining, he worked his way up to the front of the pack from seventh place – and kept going.
Northwood senior Eldon Phillips (1:56.35 minutes), 800m-run state champion, said he almost lost the 800m race after he made a mistake with his strategy. The eight fastest runners crossed the finish line within a span of 3 seconds.
His coach asked him to focus on winning the race, without seeking a fast time. He beat Northwest senior Chase Osborne (second place, 1:56.39 minutes) by four-hundredths of a second.
Normally he would lead the fast pack of runners. During the championship, he ran slightly slower than the front group at the beginning. He then caught up and worked his way to the front of the pack to finish in first place.
Montgomery County didn’t leave the throwing events untouched.
Bowie senior Eve Dantignac won the girls discus with a 121-foot, 3-inch throw. Clarksburg sophomore Trinity Klock placed second in the event with a throw of 118 feet and 1 inch, a personal record. Klock said she practiced the half-spin motion she uses to throw the discus, to prepare for the event. She has trained as a thrower for two years, although she has a longer history in sprinting.
In the girls shot put, Meade High School senior Cabaret Goings took first place after she threw the shot 38 feet, 8 inches. Janise Bestman, a Paint Branch High School junior, placed second (37 feet, 6.5 inches).