Northwest takes state title in boys, runner up in girls track and field

BALTIMORE –The Northwest High School boys track and field team became state champions and the girls team took second place in the state championship at Morgan State University May 26 and May 27.

The Northwest Jaguars boys team won three state titles for outdoor track in the last four years under the leadership of head coach Robert Youngblood. The team won the 4A state championship in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

“The boys, it was a plan that we were going to score between 30 and 40 points the first day, and then we knew that our strength was coming up in the finals,” Youngblood said.

The Lady Jaguars missed a state title by 9 points, placing second while Charles Herbert Flowers, a Prince George’s County rival, won the championship.

“We had a plan that we (the girls team) were going to go after a whole lot of points in the field events and the running would take care of itself, and it almost worked,” Youngblood said.

Originally Stephanie Bateky intended to run in the 4x 100m relay, but Youngblood asked her to sacrifice running in the race so she could earn points for her team in field events. She agreed. She took seventh in the long jump (16 feet, 7 inches) and eighth in the triple jump (36 feet,5.75 inches), earning 3 points total.

Sophomore Cori Brown, junior Editta Pessima, junior Yaye Sy, and sophomore Taylor Wright formed the second place 4x100m relay team for the Northwest Jaguars, finishing in 48.40 seconds, just after C.H. Flowers (47.83 seconds).

Pessima and Wright secured much of the Lady Jaguars’ points: Pessima winning the 100m hurdles and the 300m hurdles, and helping the team place fourth in the 4x400m relay, and Wright won the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches) and placed second in both the 100m dash finals (12.11 seconds) and the 200m dash finals (24.81 seconds).

Youngblood said Pessima’s performance was remarkable because three of her events were one after the other.

Montgomery County Public Schools athletes earned multiple individual and relay titles in track and field at the state championship meet Friday.

Montgomery County won all four state titles in the 3200m run for 3A and 4A.
Poolesville sophomore Nandini Satsangi came in first place in the 3A 3200m race (11:07). Satsangi held the second-place spot for most of the race, and then she led the final two laps. Her legs suddenly gave out a couple of feet from the finish line and she fell, but she won the race by finishing a few seconds ahead of Northern-Calvert junior Abby Sweeney (11:12).

“I felt like I was at the finish line, so my legs couldn’t do anything more,” said Satsangi.

The Poolesville sophomore said she heard people cheering for the girl behind her in the final meters of the race, but when she sped up her stride her legs gave out.

She hopes to have a shot at winning the 5-kilometer state cross country championship in the fall.

Poolesville junior Ryan Lockett (9:24.62) and teammate senior Andrew Lent (9:26.25) took first and second place in the boys 3200m race, respectively. As soon Lent crossed the finish line, Lockett embraced him and the two jumped up and down in celebration.

They said they were ecstatic to finally finish first and second in a state championship.

They had set that goal during cross country season in 2016, and met it just in time during the final race of Lent’s high school career.

Lockett noted that Lent had improved his performance in final laps of the race this year. Lent attributed his improvement to weight training and using correct running form.

In the 4A boys 3200m run, Richard Montgomery senior Rohann Asfaw won with a time of 9:24.26, followed by Bethesda-Chevy Chase junior Adam Nakasaka (9:27.39).

Walter Johnson junior Abbey Green (10:46 minutes) beat her longtime distance rival Annapolis High School senior Maria Coffin (10:56 minutes) to become state champion, just as she did for the indoor state championship.

It was her second track and field state title, her first for the outdoor season. Green said she and Coffin became friends during the last few years as they competed in track and field and in cross country. She said she will miss competing against Coffin, who graduates this year.

Northwest’s boys won the 4A 4x200m relay Friday with a time of 1:28.87 minutes, just ahead of DuVal High School (1:30 flat).

Members of the Northwest Jaguars relay team said that halfway through the outdoor season, head coach Robert Youngblood told distance runner and senior Ngoy “JJ” Yamitishi to shift his training to run in the relay as a last attempt to form a winning relay team. Sophomore AJ Woods ran the first leg of the race, followed by senior Aaron Tucker, then Yamitishi with junior Khaloni Mganga running as anchor.

Youngblood said he secretly decided during cross country season he would put Yamitishi in the 4x200m relay for outdoor track, though he told no one until midway through the outdoor season. He said he got the idea from a picture he had of Yamitishi sprinting as a little boy.

He described young Yamitishi’s smile in the photo: “It was just pure joy to sprint.”

“We had sprinters, but I felt like this would bring joy back to his heart, and I knew what he would do, and he more than held his own,” Youngblood said.

Yamitishi said he was motivated in the race because “I didn’t get the split I wanted in the four-by-eight (hundred meter relay).”

Youngblood said Yamitishi also led the Jaguars to the 4x800 m relay win, however.

James H. Blake girls’ team won the girls 3A 4x200m relay with a time of 1:42.52 minutes, followed by Baltimore City College’s team (1:42.95) in second place.

Second leg Tahira Bakare, a Blake sophomore, said she made sure she didn’t run too fast at the beginning of her leg so she could maintain the pace throughout her part of the race.

“I used to run until I died,” she said.

Blake took the lead by the time the team’s third leg started running.

Fourth leg Cyan Peoples said the girls were aiming for a faster time.
“Weather’s not an excuse,” she said.

She said the baton exchanges could have been smoother, which affects the finish time.

Immediately after the race, Bakare said she had had difficulty seeing which lane she was supposed to receive the baton, and she was worried she stepped out of her lane, which results in disqualification. Peoples assured Bakare that she hadn’t.

Blake junior thrower Jabari Bennett’s training had to temporarily halt his throwing practice for a few weeks during the season so he could wait for his toe to get better. He had an ingrown toenail removed, and immediately after the procedure it was painful to walk.

“When I throw, I’m using like my toe muscle and my feet,” Bennett said. “And when I plant(ed) my feet it hurt, so I couldn’t really do anything until it healed.”

He spent the recovery time in weight training and stretching his muscles, which he said are important for a thrower.

He came back and won his fourth state throwing championship title for shot put with a throw of 56 feet and 1 inch.

He said he had been aiming to repeat his personal record from the indoor regional championship of 59 feet, but he will try again at the New Balance Outdoor National Track and Field Championship, for which he has qualified.


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