The 200-meter track at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex has never been kind to Howard University sophomore Leon Snyder, dating from his days as a track standout at Largo High School.
But yesterday at the Historically Black College Invitational, Snyder put the frustrations of countless almosts and near-misses behind him by winning the 800 in 1 minute 55.57 seconds. It was Snyder's first win as a collegian, and came at an all-too-familiar location.
"I've been at too many meets here," said Snyder, who never managed as much as a county title at the complex while in high school. "I can't stand it. I never do well. I ran on it so much in high school, it's like I see it all the time, but I am glad I got my first win here."
Snyder's win in the 800 highlighted a solid day for locals on the second day of competition at the inaugural HBC Invitational.
Morgan State sprinters Sharronda Boone and Mariama Gondo, high school teammates at Western High in Baltimore, traded wins in the 60-meter dash and the 200, and Hampton University junior Cynthia Nicholls (Long Reach) won her second event of the competition, taking the triple jump with a leap of 38-1.5. She won the high jump and was second in the long jump on Saturday.
Howard University senior David Oliver won the 60-meter hurdles in 7.96 seconds, and fellow Bison Indira Garcia (Archbishop Carroll) won the women's 3,000 in 10:53.50.
Morgan State sophomore Ashley Horn, a Potomac (Md.) graduate, won the shot put with a toss of 47 feet 9 inches -- 18 inches better than her personal best.
"I had a couple people cheering for me. Maybe that helped," said Horn, a District Heights native who won a pair of indoor state titles in the shot put at the same complex. "My home is 15 minutes away. You've got to kind of show off at home."
The unscored meet was otherwise dominated by out-of-towners, notably Southern University from Baton Rouge, La., and Hampton University.
Despite a loss in the 60-meter dash by long jump champion Brian Johnson, the Jaguars added titles in the 4x400-meter relay (3:18.45), triple jump (Jeremy Pierre, 49-4.5), high jump (Jeremy Noah, 6-7.5) and weight throw (Arnold Sims, 49-3), making the 26-hour trip to Landover worthwhile.
Johnson, a basketball standout running the second 60 of his track career (his first came Saturday as he logged the fastest qualifying time in the event), stumbled out of the blocks and couldn't catch up to Chaz Clemon of Lincoln University.
Clemon clocked in at 6.73, and Johnson was second in 6.81.
"Me and him go back," said Clemon, a Division III champion in the 55-meter dash. "We were roommates on the Olympic Development team in Canada this summer so it was all fun. I knew he was fast after I saw him run in Canada. I wasn't taking him for granted at all, but it was pretty sweet beating him."
In addition to Nicholls's win in the triple jump, Hampton got a victory from Eboni White in the women's mile (5:13.43), Issac Hilton in the men's shot put (51-11), Brandon King in the men's 5,000 (15:29.47), and a 1-2 finish from Chloe Davis and Kellie Wells in the 60-meter hurdles.
"I just wanted to run the short hurdles to work on my sprint speed," said Davis, a junior who had not run the event since her freshman year until a meet last week at Penn State. "I wasn't thinking about beating anybody."
Tiffany Barnes keyed a Delaware State sweep of the 400, finishing in 55.71 for the women's title. Joshwyn Abrams won the men's 400 title in 49.24.
Mercy Udoji of Tennessee State followed up a win in the distance medley relay Saturday with a victory in the 800 (2:15.31) and an anchor leg on the Tiger Belles' winning 4x400 relay team.