Freshman Randy Lee has been sensational for the Carroll track team, but at yesterday's Banneker Relays at Bowie State University, he got some help from another newcomer to the program, junior transfer Louis Garcia.
At the start of the 4x400-meter relay, Garcia slipped on the rain-soaked track and had to fight through a pack of runners, but made up enough ground to get the Lions into second place before handing off to Lee. Lee then battled with Wilson senior Marco Aguilar before giving Carroll a slight lead that Michael Taylor and Derrick Brinkley were able to stretch into a five-second victory over Mervo in a time of 3 minutes 21.85 seconds.
The win capped a nice day for Carroll, which also won the 4x800 (Brinkley, Bardell Brown, Taylor and James Washington) in 8:09.41 and the 1,600 sprint medley (Brinkley, Lee, Michael Thomas and Howard Bailey) in 3:36.74. And even though it is early in the outdoor season, the addition of Garcia to a team that already boasts Lee and Brinkley -- one of the nation's top 500-meter runners during the indoor season -- has the Lions thinking big.
"Louis is our 'X' factor," Carroll Coach Mike Williams said. "He's an athlete, and we're placing him wherever we need him in our relays. It puts us at the point where we're talking about a championship at the Penn Relays, about a month from now."
Garcia, who transferred from Techworld Charter School before this year, said he has benefited from the challenge of fitting into a new school and a high-caliber team.
"Both my older sisters went here, and my man [Brinkley] has been telling me about what we were doing here," Garcia said. "It's been tough in practice -- they're fast and they make me better."
Garcia can take something from the performance of Lee, who earlier had won another close matchup against Aguilar in the 400-meter leg of the sprint medley.
"Every time I'd try to overtake him, he'd run up and force me outside, so I just relaxed and waited until the straightaway," said Lee, who ran one of the nation's top 20 times in the 400 (48.87) during the indoor season.
Carroll is attempting to track down Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powerhouse DeMatha, which won the 4x200 (Anthony Wiseman, Joshua Wilson, Antoine Washington and Edward Smith) in 1:28.57 and placed second in the 4x100 (42.71) behind Mervo's meet-record 42.51. And DeMatha is looking to take back the conference championship it lost to Gonzaga last year when the Stags get sprinter Paul Hall back from a broken vertebrae and hurdler Dominic Berger back from a bout with the flu.
Western dominated the girls' competition, but Wilson's Shanice DePass came back after sitting out the indoor season to lead the Tigers' 4x400 (Tiffany Green, Sheena Willis and Shawnise Bryant-Lawson) to victory in 4:04.22. Yorktown's distance medley relay (Becca Shinners, Jessica Hairston, Ellen Ferrante and Katie Read) won in 13:17.35.