Ekponé leads Northwest girls to Maryland 4A track title

Olivia Ekponé won four gold medals, set two state records and ran the fastest time in the country in the 400 meters at the Maryland state championships Saturday at Morgan State.

“I knew I was going to have to go through a little pain to get it,” the Northwest senior said. “It was worth it.”

Behind Ekponé and 800 meters champion Britt Eckerstrom, Northwest became the first girls’ team from Montgomery County to win a 4A state title. The Jaguars finished ahead of Thomas Johnson and Wootton. Thomas Johnson won the boys’ 4A title over DuVal and Oxon Hill.

Huntingtown was the girls’ 3A champion; Catonsville and Kennedy tied for second. Linganore finished just ahead of Potomac and Reservoir in the boys’ meet.

In 2A, the girls from Liberty edged North Hagerstown and Long Reach. Walkersville was the boys’ champion ahead of Century and Queen Anne’s.

Northwest's Olivia Ekpone, left, wins the girls 4A 400 meter dash ahead of Old Mill's Alexis Franklin at the Maryland track and field championships at Morgan State University in Baltimore. (JOHN McDONNELL/THE WASHINGTON POST)

In 1A, Boonsboro beat Harford Tech and Western Tech for the girls’ championship. Carver beat Catoctin and Perryville on the boys’ side.

Ekponé ran into the wind at Hughes Stadium and powered to victory in the 100 meters in 11.85 seconds on the final day of the three-day meet at Morgan State.

Ninety minutes later in the 400, the stands buzzed as Ekponé lined up against Old Mill junior Alexis Franklin, the state leader in the event entering the meet. The two were all alone and battled all the way. Franklin sprung into the lead at the top of the final turn, but Ekponé, a Texas A&M signee, responded and exploded home to win in 53.15, a state meet record and the fastest time in the country this season.

Ekponé came back on exhausted legs to win the 200 in 24.67.

She put an exclamation point on the meet and on a fantastic high school career by anchoring the Jaguars to a state-record time in the 4x400 relay. Tiara Wellman, Eckerstrom, India Knight and Ekponé won in 3:46.22, eclipsing the 3:47.48 that Eleanor Roosevelt ran in 2006.

“I started tearing up,” said Ekponé, who won the same four events last year. “I’m very, very proud.”

Franklin had plenty to be proud of as well, winning the 100 hurdles in a 4A-record 13.89 before breezing to the 300 hurdles title in 43.41.

Potomac’s Dondre Echols had the same double. He had to lean to win the 3A 110 hurdles title in 14.19 but breezed to victory in the 300 hurdles in 37.86.

Teammate Ronald Darby won two events as well, capturing a windy 100 (10.88) and the 200 (21.37) before joining Echols, Adam Coles and Joshua Thorne on Potomac’s winning 4x100 relay (42.15). The quartet also took Thursday’s 4x200 in 1:27.94.

Thomas Johnson’s Tamara Ovejera won the 4A discus comfortably with 129 feet 9 inches, but was runner-up in the shot put to Bowie’s Antonella Taylor (44-8.5).

Kennedy senior Thea LaFond was spectacular in the field and the Cavaliers nearly won the 3A team title thanks to her efforts. The Maryland signee took Friday’s triple jump with 41-8.50, the third-best mark in the country, before winning Saturday’s high jump (5-6), long jump (17-11.5) and 100 hurdles (14.45).

“This is a jumper’s dream,” LaFond said.

Aneesha Scott powered the girls from Long Reach to a strong team finish by winning the 100 (12.22), 200 (25.20) and 400 (55.65). She also joined Uzochi Okoronkwo, Kristen Fawole and Jacquelin Tapé on the Lightning’s 4x100 relay that won in 48.64.

There were a pair of impressive 800-meter performances. Northern’s Ryan O’Connor won the boys’ 3A title by almost five full seconds in 1:52.89. He was outdone for the fastest time of the day by DuVal senior Edose Ibadin, who won the 4A race in 1:52.53.

Ibadin was also runner-up in the 400 in 48.62. Wise junior Champ Page was too strong down the home stretch and froze the clock in 47.82. Page also captured the 200 meters over Suitland’s Taivon Jacobs in 21.97.

Walter Johnson senior Camille Bouvett had the fastest time of the day in the girls’ 1600. She crossed in 5:00.25. Wootton junior Grace Corbett was runner-up in 5:04.60.

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