County athletes qualify for Junior Olympics -- Gazette.Net


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At 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, Kyle Smith boarded a plane from Indiana bound for Maryland. After two days of competing in the USA Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at the University of Indiana, he was heading home — for another track meet.

The Frederick Douglass High School graduate spent most of the weekend competing in the decathlon in hopes of qualifying for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, next month but he missed the cut. He got a couple hours of shuteye, hopped on a flight, and was on the track again before noon for the USA Track and Field Potomac Valley Association/Region 16 Junior Olympics Championships at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.

“I don’t know why my mom scheduled the flight so early,” he said. “I feel fine but my body might be saying otherwise.”

Smith was joined by former Douglass teammates Marcus Anderson and Quincey Sutton in Landover. Sutton grabbed first place in the shot put with a throw of 53 feet, 3/4 inches. Oxon Hill’s Isaac Rana took second with a toss three feet behind Sutton’s.

Anderson charged ahead to win the 110-meter hurdles in 14.66 seconds with DuVal’s Uche Oparaku and Charles. H Flowers’ Malcolm Sykes finishing third and fourth, respectively.

“My coach is always telling me ‘attack the hurdles, beat them to the hurdles,’” Anderson said. “That’s what I did.”

Oparaku followed his effort in the 110 hurdles with a second-place finish in the 400 hurdles, an event he said he hasn’t run in more than a year.

“I never really trained for it,” he said. “I just trained mentally and told myself, ‘Keep pushing yourself’ in my head.”

Largo’s Emani Williams, who won the Maryland 2A discus state title at the end of May, took home another first-place finish in the event and also added top-five finishes in the shot put and javelin.

Crossland High graduate Robert Mercer, one of the few pole vaulters from Prince George’s County and the 3A state champ in the event, earned another first place. He also added a victory in the decathlon, beating out Douglass’ Vedall Grant.

Nakita Gray, a recent Friendly graduate, cleared 5-5 3/4 in the high jump to take first place. That’s the highest mark she has hit this year.

Bowie High’s Charde Barnes and Josh Wilkins swept the 1,500-meter races with Barnes finishing in 4 minutes, 54.86 seconds, which coach Rich Andrulonis estimated to be about a 5:13 mile. Eleanor Roosevelt rising senior Elise Allen took third. Wilkins won the boys 1,500 in 4:09.27.

Allen’s teammate Cristeen Anyanwu won the 400 in 57.07 seconds.

“Summer track’s just fun,” Anyanwu said after the race. “It’s just, it’s just fun.”

The meet serves as a qualifier for Junior Olympics to be held at Morgan State University at the end of July.

“That’s all I’m trying to do,” Williams said. “I’m just trying to qualify.”

tmewhirter@gazette.net