County athletes head to national competitions -- Gazette.Net







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Just three weeks after finishing the outdoor track season in championship fashion, Potomac High School's Dondre Echols, Frederick Douglass' Kyle Smith and Henry A. Wise's Champ Page have shed their old school colors for new ones: red, white and blue.

The three are traveling to Bloomington, Ind., for a nationwide meet June 15-17 that serves as a qualifier for the World Junior Championships which will take place in Barcelona, Spain from July 10-15.

Page and Echols got a glimpse of the majority of the athletes they will see when they traveled to California for the Arcadia Invitational in April. Page won the 400 meters and finished fifth in the 200 while Echols took second in the 110 and 300 hurdles.

“My goal is just to make the team,” said Echols, who took the state championships by storm, setting three state meet records in two days. “I'm gonna see the kids that beat me [in Arcadia].”

The Potomac senior, who will continue his track career at the University of South Carolina, said he will have to lower his record-setting time in the 110 hurdles all the way from 13.59 seconds to 13.2 or 13.1. He currently ranks No. 6 in the nation this season, 0.24 seconds off the top mark.

Smith will be competing in the decathlon, a bear of a competition that includes 10 events ranging from the javelin to the 100.

“I expect him to do well,” said Douglass coach Malcolm Drewery. “Over summer he's one of the top three decathletes in the country.”

The trio of athletes bypassed the opportunity to compete in the New Balance Outdoor National Championships, which will take place this weekend in Greensboro, N.C.

“This meet is another step up that's for the elite, top-10 athletes,” said Wise coach Fardan Carter.

Heading to North Carolina are David Winters and Taivon Jacobs of Suitland. Jacobs is coming off an impressive debut in international competition after he took home gold in the 400 in Puerto Rico at the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational two weekends ago.

“It's an accomplishment,” said Suitland coach Malcolm Walker of the two qualifying for the national meet. “But at the same time I'm just happy for them to get the experience. It's going to help them get scholarship money and that's what's most important.”

Bowie's Antonella Taylor, who also joined Jacobs in the Caribbean, is heading to North Carolina with teammate Janice George. The two played an integral role in bringing home the Bulldogs' first outdoor state championship with Taylor picking up the 4A crown in the shot put and George anchoring the first-place 400 relay team.

“I'm just trying to go down there and continue to get better,” said George, who will be running the 400. “It makes you push yourself a lot harder.”