El Sawi vaults 14 feet

January 16, 1994|By Rick Scherr | Rick Scherr,Contributing Writer

Atholton pole vaulter Omar El Sawi said his final attempt at the mystical 14-foot mark at yesterday's Maryland National Guard Scholastic Games was nearly flawless.

His mind was clear, his eyes focused on the box. As he began his sprint, the dimly lighted 5th Regiment Armory seemed to illuminate.

But as the senior completed his ascent over the bar -- clearing it by nearly half a foot -- his mind was struck with a frightening thought.

"I was over it, I looked down and the bar was there," said El Sawi, "and all I could think was, 'Let go of the pole.' "

El Sawi released in the nick of time, completing a dream vault that earned him first place in the meet, as well as a new Howard County record.

"I've been trying to get over 14 feet for a long time," said El Sawi, who barely missed it at last month's Pangea meet, nicking the bar with his foot.

"You try so hard to get it, you do it over and over again in practice and you know you're capable of doing it. It's just a relief to finally make it."

He, along with teammates Ed Lebard and Josh Potocko, second and eighth in the pole vault, respectively, helped Atholton capture fourth place.

Another Howard County highlight came from the Hammond girls team, where sprinter Kisha Jett set meet records in winning the 55 -- (6.8 seconds) and hurdles (8.0).

The senior, who has been hampered recently by a strain in her left ankle, said she felt at the top of her game for the first time in weeks.

"This is the first meet in a while where I've really felt good," said Jett, who will attend the University of Florida at Gainesville in the fall. "It's my senior year, and I wanted to go out a winner. It feels good knowing that other people will have to beat the records I set."

Top girls finishers included Melissa Williamson of Howard, third in the high jump, and Centennial's Kari Meyer, third in the 1,500.

Eleanor Roosevelt won the team competition with 38 points, followed by Northwestern and Linganore. Hammond was the top local team, finishing tied for fifth.

Old Mill won the boys' title for the second straight year, followed by Roosevelt, Oakland Mills, Atholton and Duval.

Individually on the boys' side, top finishers included Bobby Van Allen of Centennial, fifth in the 1,500; Centennial's Kevin Hill, second in the 3,000; Oakland Mills' Xavier Briscoe, second in the 800; and the Oakland Mills 800 and 3,200 relay teams, which finished third and second, respectively.

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