OXON HILL – Derell Quick has a full library of go-to movie clips and motivational YouTube videos ready for every track season.
The Oxon Hill coach believes that finding the right message before a competition can make a significant difference.
Before the recent Maryland state track meet, Quick opted for a scene from the movie “Troy” in which Brad Pitt’s character Achilles considers his legacy before heading off to war.
“We always say we want to be remembered in history,” Quick said.
Oxon Hill responded with its latest record-breaking performance, surging to a second straight Class 3A boy’s title on May 27 in Baltimore.
Gary Ross, Aaron Robinson and Daniel George won individual events, and the Clippers also took first place in three of the four relays. The 4x800-meter relay team, anchored by Ross, finished in 7:49.15 to set a Class 3A state record.
With the season-ending New Balance Nationals still to go, the group has already ensured its place in school, county and state history.
“Last year was the breakout year,” said Ross, a senior who committed to Penn State. “This year, we’re here.”
Oxon Hill’s rise is a testament to its depth built via steady progress throughout a veteran lineup. It certainly helps that football coach Craig Jeffries encourages his players to commit to track in the spring.
Quick swears by a thorough approach that includes weekly film sessions to break down technique and to talk strategy. A handful of seniors like Robinson and Anthony Wimbish have put in four years of dutiful work to get into the state’s upper echelon.
“It’s great to see it all come along,” said Robinson, who edged Ross for the 400-meter state title. “My freshman year I would’ve never thought I’d be here right now. It’s been a great experience, all in all.”
Ross, on the other hand, took a more unusual path to track stardom. He started running to stay in shape for basketball, but his career has taken off since committing full-time to track late in his junior year. He won the 800-meter run in 1:52.62 at the state meet, posting the best time of any classification.
Ross credits the daily competition from his more experienced teammates for showing him the finer points of the sport.
“I didn’t know anything,” Ross said. “I just ran with them, and I knew that if I could keep up, then I’m running well.”
The Clippers showcased their full potential while matched up against top competition before a crowd of thousands at the prestigious Penn Relays in April.
The 4x800 team of Ross, Robinson, Wimbish and Randy Serville posted what was then the best high school time in the country in qualifying (7:40.35) to earn the top seed in the Championship of America final. Ross, Robinson, Serville and George also qualified for the 4x400 final in 3:12.72, good for the fifth-best time in the country.
The schedule forced them to run the finals just 90 minutes apart. After finishing ninth out of 12 elite teams in the 4x800, the three athletes pulling double-duty gulped down water and did their best to rest their aching legs. They managed to finish sixth out of eight in the 4x400, second-best among American teams.
“It was more just a give-it-your-all thing,” Robinson said. “You couldn’t run with your legs anymore. You couldn’t run with your body. You just relied on your mind to get through all that.”
Those results caused quite the stir around Philadelphia’s Franklin Field. The Clippers didn’t mind all the questions from opposing athletes and officials about who they were and exactly where they resided.
“We knew we were trying to do something off the chart,” Ross said. “We didn’t think we were going to go that far off the chart.”
That exciting weekend boosted the confidence for everyone and raised already lofty expectations. The Clippers walked away from the state meet a bit disappointed that they didn’t drop a few more records that seemed within reach.
Oxon Hill will head to New Balance Nationals in North Carolina starting June 16, among the favorites in several events.
Quick will no doubt have a couple videos for his athletes before it’s time to chase history.
“A team like this isn’t a dime a dozen,” Quick said. “It’s truly a blessing for me. With this group, it’s mostly just managing expectations regarding where you want to be and how you want to get there.”
The team, boosted by a strong senior class, has put together its share of memorable moments so far.