For the better part of the last decade, Prince George’s County schools have produced some of the top sprinters in the country. Athletes from that area have put it in hyperdrive, wining national titles and setting American records.
Speedsters battled it out Thursday at Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover in the county championships, and the result was the latest crop of nationally elite times. Taivon Jacobs was one of the headliners. The Suitland junior took apart the field in the 300-meter dash before becoming a major contributor on the Rams’ winning sprint relay teams.
Jacobs got separation early from Wise senior Champ Page in the 300 and won in 34.28 seconds, the second-fastest time in the country this season. Page was runner-up in 34.52, third fastest.
Later, Jacobs ran the third leg on Suitland’s 4x400 relay that won ahead of Laurel in 3:24.58.
In between, he anchored Suitland’s winning 4x200. No one was close to David Winters, Tyrell Deas, Travis Scarbrough and Jacobs as they brought the baton around in 1:29.72.
The Rams finished last indoor season with the fastest time in the country and even Jacobs didn’t know what to expect this year after losing three of the four legs from that team to graduation or injury. All Suitland did Thursday was post the third-fastest time in the country. They’d already run the top time (1:29.19) earlier this month in New York.
“I was a little nervous,” Jacobs said. “But working with these guys, they showed they had heart. We became a little family in the short time we had. That’s how come we been able to run so good.”
Despite Jacobs’s efforts, Wise easily won the boys’ team title over Douglass and DuVal. Bowie won the girls’ championship behind three-event winner Charde Barnes over Eleanor Roosevelt and Douglass.
Dondre Echols won two gold medals. The Potomac (Md.) senior captured the 55 hurdles in 7.33—he ran 7.30 in the prelims, tied for the second-fastest time in the country—minutes before taking the flat 55 in 6.46.
It wasn’t an official award, but Mobolaji Adeokun was probably the most valuable female performer. The DuVal senior was peerless, putting away the competition in the 300 (40.48), 55 (7.16), 55 hurdles (8.35) and long jump (17 feet 3 inches).
Jacobs had his own take on why Prince George’s speed is so often some of the best speed.
“We don’t live in Florida or California or Texas where it’s kind of hot all the time, but we know we can run,” Jacobs says. “Each and every individual out here in PG County, we work hard. We love the competition.”