Western finally overruns Maryland

Perennial city champion clinches 1st title with win in relay

Mervo boys third

Class 4A state track and field

May 26, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For years, Western's track and field team has played a starring role in Baltimore City.

Yesterday, the Doves finally took front and center on a larger stage.

Scoring in 10 events on the final day of competition at the Class 4A girls state meet at UMBC -- including a win in the meet's final event, the 1,600-meter relay, Western came away with a five-point victory to claim its first state title.

"We've tried to win championships many times and gotten close, but one of the goals we set was to win states one day," said Doves coach Jerry Molyneaux. "It's a relief, I guess."

Western finished with 93 points, topping Largo (88) and Thomas Johnson (55).

On the boys side, Gaithersburg won with 94 points, Suitland was second (82) and Mervo third (73).

Needing a strong showing in the meet's final event to hold off defending champion Largo, the Doves nearly met disaster when their second leg of the 1,600 relay team -- Alicia Williams -- almost lost her right shoe when she was clipped while taking the baton. She stopped briefly to slide her foot back into the shoe, then got back into the race.

Trailing in the fourth leg, Western's Mariama Gondo overtook Temi Akojie along the final stretch to win the race and clinch the title.

"At the moment it happened, all I was praying was, `Just keep me close,' " Gondo said. "There wasn't too much ground to make up, because our third leg gave me something to work with. My coaches always tell me, `Straighten your form,' and as I started doing that I started moving."

Western's victory broke a string of 12 straight titles by Prince George's County teams. Western was runner-up in 1998 and '99.

"We've prayed for this moment all the time," Gondo said. "It's a feeling of joy."

The Doves, as usual, were led by their sprinting corps: Gondo took second in the 100 and 200; Latosha Wallace and Rokesha Williams finished first and fourth, respectively, in the 400; and Ashley West-Nesbitt and Ashaley Davis placed second and third in the 100.

Add to that a second-place finish by 800 standout Alicia Williams, and third- and fifth-place finishes by Wallace and Angel Thompson in the long jump, and it added up to a title.

"It was everybody," Molyneaux said. "It wasn't one athlete's domination. It was a whole team effort."

Western's chances were further boosted by the absence of Tiandra Ponteen, the top sprinter for Eleanor Roosevelt, winner of 10 of the past 12 Class 4A titles. She was disqualified from last week's regionals after she was entered in five events -- one over the state limit. Her coach failed to scratch her from the fifth in time.

For the Mervo boys, it was a solid effort that just fell short. The Mustangs got a 1-2 finish in the triple jump from Frankie Wright and Andrew Hackett and posted a win in the 400 relay.

"I was a little surprised at some of the races we ran that we didn't come through in," said Mervo coach Freddie Hendricks. "But we gave it a good shot."

Other area girls winners included Broadneck's Lauren Centrowitz (1,600) and Chesapeake-Anne Arundel's Ginger Williams (shot put); boys winners included C. Milton Wright's Aaron Smith (1,600) and Old Mill's Aaron Dixon-Proctor (discus).


Team scores (Top 20): 1. Gaithersburg, 94; 2. Suitland, 82; 3. Mervo, 73; 4.Oxon Hill, 70; 5. C.M. Wright, 36; 6. Bowie, 30; 7. E. Roosevelt, 18; 8. Frederick, Broadneck, 15; 10. Arundel, 13; 11. Old Mill, Springbrook, 12; 13. Westminster, 11; 14. Magruder, 10; 15. High Point, C.H. Flowers and Watkins Mill, 9; 18. Damascus, Woodlawn, 8; 20. Laurel, 7. Individual results: Pole vault: 1. Anquita (G), 13-6; 2. (tie) Stone (WE), Sexauer (BR), 12-6. 110 hurdles: 1. Beard (FR), 14.36; 2. Williams (SU), 14.39; 3. Daniels (OH), 14.85. 400: 1. Young (OH), 47.85; 2. Byron (OH), 47.93; 3. Steele (G), 48.02. 100: 1. Hill (G), 11.14; 2. Allen (ER), 11.15; 3. Young (OH), 11.24. 1,600: 1. Smith (CW), 4:22.33; 2. Koehler (BR), 4:22.36; 3. Slowikawski (CW), 4:23.59. Triple jump: 1. Wright (MRV), 46-7.5; 2. Hackett (MRV), 45-7; 3. Patterson (BW), 44-11.75. 300 hurdles: 1. Williams (SU), 38.43; 2. Riley (SU), 38.51; 3. Cuff (CF), 39.28. 200: 1. Young (OH), 21.91; 2. Byron (OH), 22.10; 3. Gibson (G), 22.21. 800: 1. Steele (G), 1:55.69; 2. Riley (SU), 1:55.59; 3. Lynch (MRV), 1:56.20. 400 relay: 1. Mervo, 42.03; 2. E. Roosevelt, 42.21; 3. Gaithersburg, 42.42. 1,600 relay: 1. Oxon Hill, 3:16.66; 2. Suitland, 3:17.91; 3. Laurel, 3:21.29. Discus: 1. Dixon-Proctor (OM),163-4; 2. Lillie (G), 156-9; 3. Barnhart (DAM), 155-0.


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