Smith Falls Short of Record

By Carl Little
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thousands of spectators and a handful of camera crews descended on Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover yesterday to witness Devon Smith run faster than any boy in history, and he could barely stand upright.

Moments after his worst performance of the season in the 55-meter dash, the glassy-eyed Westlake senior stood doubled over in a corner. His coaches took him into a room in the bowels of the building, rubbed his weary body with ice and stretched him out.

It was the worst possible time to suffer dehydration. Yesterday's Maryland 4A/3A championships were Smith's last crack at the national high school record in the 55 meters -- a mark he had launched an assault on all season -- but he rebounded well, winning three state titles and sparking Westlake to the team title.

"Got to end with a bang," Smith said.

The Wolverines, runners-up in each of the last two seasons, won the 3A championship ahead of Atholton and Meade. Gaithersburg and Thomas Johnson tied for the boys' 4A title, C.H. Flowers was second and Quince Orchard took third.

The girls from Paint Branch won the 3A title, followed by Hereford and Western. Eleanor Roosevelt won the 4A crown, well ahead of Oxon Hill and Flowers.

Smith won the 300 in 35.42 seconds -- 0.004 of a second quicker than Frederick's Brady Wilson -- but the race took nearly everything out of him. Half an hour later, he was sluggish in the semifinals of the 55 meters, his signature event, and nearly missed qualifying for the final.

But when he came back for the final, the crowd stood in unison and murmured in anticipation. Smith won in 6.37 seconds, well off the national record of 6.14 but still a 3A record.

Smith capped the day with a blistering third leg on Westlake's 4x200 meters relay team. He brought the Wolverines from second place to first, and they cruised to victory in 1 minute 30.84 seconds.

The meet didn't conclude the way he wanted, but it was still a season for the ages. He finished as the owner of the fastest 55- and 60-meter dash times in the country and his first indoor team championship.

"Today wasn't the greatest day I had, but I brought home first place," Smith said. "That's enough for me."

In 4A, Sherwood All-Met Solomon Haile won the 1,600 before capturing the 3,200 in a state-record 9:19.74. Quince Orchard senior Wayne Bartholomew was also a double winner, taking the 800 in a state-record 1:55.98 after claiming the 500 meters title.

Thomas Johnson senior Emily Vannoy won the 4A shot put competition with 47 feet 10 1/4 inches, improving on the state record she set last year by nearly two feet.

Senior Arielle Statham paced Paint Branch to the girls' 3A title, winning the 55 meters, placing second in the 300 and running the last leg on Paint Branch's 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams.

"I was looking forward to doing my best and doing all I could to be a state champion," Statham said.

Maryland 4A/3A Track and Field Double Your Pleasure: Eleanor Roosevelt sophomore Amirah Johnson won two gold medals in 4A, capturing titles in the 800 and the 1,600 meters. The High Life: Thomas Johnson junior Erick Artusio went 15 feet in the high jump, tying the 4A record set in 1987.

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