Indoor track: Clarksburg girls, Paint Branch win Montgomery 4A West titles

February 8

It was another meet and a familiar result for the Clarksburg girls’ and Paint Branch boys’ indoor track and field teams.

One week after the two squads won the Montgomery County championships, the Coyotes and Panthers claimed titles at Thursday’s Maryland 4A West region meet at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore.

The Coyotes narrowly edged 55.33-54, while the Paint Branch boys (110) finished comfortably ahead of second-place Gaithersburg (90).

Clarksburg’s Alexus Pyles led the way with a pair of wins in the 55-meter hurdles (8.8 seconds) and high jump (5 feet 2 inches). Pyles’ top events — the long and triple jumps — are no longer available in MPSSAA region competition, but she has had little trouble adapting.

“Alexus is so good in [the long and triple jumps], it is giving away 20 points,” Clarksburg Coach Scott Mathias said. “But the other girls stepped up really well.”

Pole vaulting — which Montgomery County schools do not perform during the regular indoor season — is a part of the region meet, and freshman Paige Evans picked up a critical 10 points for the Coyotes by clearing 6 feet.

Claudia Abadio also had a big day for Clarksburg. After committing to Maryland earlier in the day, she won the shot put with a throw of 42 feet.

“She’s like a rock,” Mathias said. “She’s completely dependable. The best thing you can have is somebody who is that consistent. You know what you’re going to get.”

Though Clarksburg’s girls took home plenty of first-place finishes, Mathias said depth was key.

Coyotes junior Lucie Noall, one of the team’s unsung heroes of the day, finished fifth in the 1600 with a 5:22.58 after a surge late in the race.

The Paint Branch girls swept the 4x200 (1:48.35) and 4x400 relays (4:06.24), and Whitman won the 4x800 (10:04.68). Magruder’s Bethany White won the 55-meter dash (7.37) and Blake’s Martha Sam (42.51) just edged Churchill’s Emma Coleman (42.55) in the 300.

On the boys’ side, the Panthers picked up big wins from Noel Njem in the 300 (37.48), and Devonte Johnson in the shot put (51-4). For Johnson, the win continued an impressive indoor season.

“Devonte spent the entire preseason running cross-country to improve his aerobic conditioning,” Paint Branch Coach Dessalynn Dillard said. “He’s spent countless hours in the weight room. He’s worked to develop his technique. He knew he had the ability to move toward being one of the best throwers in the state.”

Paint Branch also scored victories in the 4x400 (3:36.34) and 4x800 (8:22.61) relays.

Dillard said a third-place showing from Richard Awojoodu (5-10) in the high jump and a fourth-place finish from Dimitry Decolin (8.22) in the 55 hurdles aided in the team victory.

Northwest’s Austin Castleberry won the high jump (6-0) and Kennedy’s Devon Hairston took home the 55 hurdles title (7.69).

Gaithersburg’s Solomon Vault, a Northwestern football signee, followed his Montgomery County 55 dash victory with another at the 4A West meet with a time of 6.76. Vault’s teammate Danniel Belay swept the 1600 (4:36.17) and 3200 (9:50.66).

Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s Nolan Ebner won both the 300 (37.84) and the 500 (1:09.21). Ebner’s 500 win was a photo finish with Paint Branch’s Oliver Lloyd, who crossed with a time of 1:09.22.

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