Track Notebook

Washington Area Girls Win 10 Gold Medals at Virginia Tech Invitational Track Meet

Wootton senior All-Met Olivia Ekpone, shown in an earlier meet, won the 300- and 55-meter races in Monday's Montgomery County championships.
Wootton senior All-Met Olivia Ekpone, shown in an earlier meet, won the 300- and 55-meter races in Monday's Montgomery County championships. (By Leah L. Jones For The Washington Post)
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By Carl Little
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last weekend's Virginia Tech Invitational turned into a showcase for the area's top female athletes, as girls from the area brought home gold medals in 10 of the 16 events. The boys produced just one local champion.

Eleanor Roosevelt, a longtime national track and field giant that seemed to be slumbering through the season, awoke at Rector Fieldhouse, and it all started with a spark by Aurieyall Scott. A senior who transferred this year from Groves High in Georgia, Scott ran the first leg on the Raiders' winning 4x200 relay team that blazed the fastest time in the country. Scott, Afia Charles, Jenea McCammon and Doris Anyanwu brought the baton around the banked 200-meter track in 1 minute 38.27 seconds.

Scott wasn't done. She won the 55 meters in 7.03 seconds and the 300 in 38.95, the season's second-fastest times in the country in those events.

Charles claimed the 500-meter title in 1:14.69, also fastest in the country, while sophomore teammate Amirah Johnson moved into third place on the national leader board after winning the 1,000 in 2:54.39.

"It was really the first time this year that we kind of put everything together," first-year Eleanor Roosevelt coach Greg Johnson said.

Area boys enjoyed a measure of success. Walkersville senior All-Met Jon Hill was the only local champion, taking the high jump with 6 feet 8 and placing second in the long jump.

Gonzaga's Bill Ledder finished a close second in the 1,000 in 2:32.77, the nation's sixth-fastest time. Teammate Aaron Shepperd placed third in the 55 hurdles behind Jeffrey Artis of Western Branch and North Carolina's Wayne Davis, the national leader and record holder.

But in the end, it was the girls' showcase. Thomas Johnson senior All-Met Emily Vannoy won the shot put with a superb throw of 46-11, fourth farthest in the country and a mark that would have gotten her eighth place in the boys' competition.

Bishop McNamara senior All-Met Saniel Atkinson controlled two field events, winning Friday's triple jump with 40-4.25 and Saturday's high jump with a leap of 5-9. She is the No. 2 triple jumper in the country and is tied with T.C. Williams's Tynita Butts for the top mark in the high jump.

"Aren't those college distances?" Atkinson, who is committed to Georgia, asked rhetorically. "I'm going to college next year anyway so I figured I'd start now."

Ekpone a Double Winner

Montgomery County athletes showed Monday at their championships that they didn't have to be on a banked track to go fast. Wootton senior All-Met Olivia Ekpone won the 300 in 38.96 seconds, the fastest time in the country on a flat track, at Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover. She also captured the 55-meter title in 7.09.

But Churchill used top-three finishes in every event except one to earn its third team title in four years, comfortably outdistancing Paint Branch and Bethesda-Chevy Chase. Maryam Fikri, Amirah Polite and Katie Wolf led the charge for the Bulldogs, each scoring in four events.

Sherwood senior Solomon Haile, who had been keeping somewhat of a low profile this winter, breezed to meet records in the boys' 1,600 (4:24.97) and the 3,200 (9:32.06). The boys from Churchill -- Sean King, Darren Harris, Sei Masuoka and Will Draffin -- won the 4x800 relay in a county-record 8:05.93 and now own the second- and third-fastest times in the country on a flat track in that event.

Gaithersburg won the boys' team title over Clarksburg and Northwest behind a 30-point effort in the field. Senior All-Met Sean Stanley broke his own meet record in the shot put with a throw of 59-10. Senior Owen Cain, who won gold in the 55 hurdles, also captured long jump (21-6.5) and high jump (6-7) titles. . . .

Two area athletes received invitations to the prestigious Millrose Games scheduled for Friday in New York. Westlake senior All-Met Devon Smith will make the five-hour trip to Madison Square Garden for the 60-meter dash, a race that lasts about six seconds. Smith, who owns the fastest 55-meter time in the country, is just one of four Americans and two Jamaicans picked for the race. Edison senior All-Met Leoule Degfae is one of the nation's top distance runners and will compete in a loaded boys' high school mile.

The meet will be televised live on Friday on ESPN2 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on NBC.

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