New champs crowned at City finals

Digital Harbor boys, Mervo girls halt teams' dominance

Track and Field

High Schools


Upheaval marked the day at the Baltimore City track and field championships.

The Mervo boys team and Western girls squad - winners of 28 crowns since 1990 - went home empty-handed as unranked Digital Harbor and No. 3 Mervo won the respective boys and girls titles at Mervo in Baltimore yesterday.

Before yesterday, Mervo had won 12 of the previous 13 championships with only City interrupting the Mustangs' reign with a win in 1998. Western's dominance was even more suffocating as the Doves had claimed the previous 16 crowns.

Digital Harbor coach Lutalo Bakari said yesterday's upsets illustrated the desire of city schools to build track programs that could mirror Mervo and Western's long-time success.

"It's not an example of Mervo and Western not working hard," said Lutalo, whose defending Class 1A state champion Rams ended the Mustangs' string of eight straight city titles in indoor track this past winter. "It's an example of other teams working hard to reach their level."

Digital Harbor, which accumulated 168 points to runner-up Poly's 121.5, was paced by senior Kristopher White, who claimed the shot put (43 feet, 6 inches) and the discus (119-04); junior Milo Barry in the 3,200 (10 minutes, 43.17 seconds); junior Justin Thomas in the 110 high hurdles (15.47 seconds); and the 800-relay squad (1:33.13).

Poly was led by junior Laquan Williams' victories in the high (6-01) and long (20-02 1/2 ) jumps. Senior Roosevelt Cooper took the 100 (11.06 seconds) and the 400 (50.44) seconds to lift No. 8 Mervo to third place with 118 points.

While the Rams' victory may not have been shocking, No. 1 Western's loss to No. 3 Mervo was. Junior Quantikia Stepney won the 800 (2:25.12) and the 1,600 (5:45.20) and teamed with juniors Nykeisha Sewell and Ashley Paschall and sophomore Kitria Stewart to win the 1,600 relay (4:01.03) to help the Mustangs to 145 points.

"We weren't scared," said Stepney, who was joined on the winners' podium by senior Joi Briscoe in the triple jump (34-08) and freshman Chabria Saulsbury in the discus (76-03). "This is our track. We wanted to let them know we weren't letting them win on our track."

The Doves - who competed without coach Jerry Molyneaux as he mourned the death of his father - had a four-gold performance from senior Shalaiyah Sommerville and a three-victory effort from senior Theresa Lewis but compiled just 138 points.

"We win this all the time, and this is their first time," Sommerville said. "What can you say? I just know this: This won't happen again."

Private schools

In some ways, the trophy awarded to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion is home.

The Gene Hoffman Cup - named after the current Archbishop Curley coach - was awarded to the No. 4 Friars after they leapfrogged No. 1 Gilman, No. 2 Mount St. Joseph and No. 3 McDonogh for the crown at Calvert Hall in Towson yesterday.

The Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland title went to No. 2 McDonogh for the third consecutive season.

Archbishop Curley's victory was the team's first in school history and brought an embarrassed smile from Hoffman.

"I told the guys that I didn't want to have to give this to somebody else," Hoffman said of the trophy named for him just this spring. "I'm humbled by it."

The Friars had gone 3-3 in the MIAA's regular-season dual meets, including suffering losses to 2005 titlist Gilman, Mount St. Joseph and McDonogh. But with victories from senior Dominic Devaud in the 300 intermediate hurdles (39.48 seconds), junior Erik Anderson in the 1,600 (4:26.64) and the foursome of juniors Kevin Franklin and Ryan Hemphill, sophomore Malcolm Jones and freshman Eric Franklin in the 800 relay (1:33.1), Archbishop Curley outscored runner-up Gilman, 110-97.

"There was so much at stake," Devaud said. "We've been working at it all year, and things finally came together today."

The Greyhounds crowned senior Khalil Uqdah, who cleared 15 feet in the pole vault.

McDonogh senior Jason Gross took home four gold medals. He placed first in the 200 (22.30 seconds), the 400 (51.27 seconds), the long jump (22-04 1/2 ) and the triple jump (44-03 1/2 ).

The race for the IAAM crown was less suspenseful as the Eagles dominated the meet with 166 points.

Junior Chante Sandiford set a pair of meet records with a heave of 39-07 in the shot put and a throw of 118-00 in the discus. Senior Devin Robinson (12.14 seconds in the 100), junior Brooke Staton (17-08 in the long jump) and freshman Jameice DeCoster (24.85 seconds in the 200) each picked up an individual gold medal before joining freshman Amanda Kimbers to establish meet records in the 400 relay (47.67 seconds) and the 800 relay (1:44.20).

"We thought we could win again," said Jeff Sanborn, who co-coaches McDonogh with Alrick Munroe. "We were healthy and peaking at the right time. We just had to show up and stay focused."

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