Severna Park’s championship reign over indoor track and field continued on January 22 when the Falcon girls totaled 123 points to win the Anne Arundel County championship for a third consecutive year.
Severna Park topped Arundel (87.5 points), South River (66), Broadneck (58) and the rest of the county field for the team title.
The victory at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex came not via individual dominance — the Falcons produced only one individual county champion, Sarah Adams, in pole vault — but by depth and a balanced deployment of abilities, as the Falcon girls achieved the rare feat of scoring in every event.
“Just the girls, the depth and working hard, and we just nickel-and-dimed them,” said Severna Park coach Josh Alcombright. “To score in every event shows we’re a really well-rounded team.”
Falcon senior Emily Knight said the goal of a team county title — not the region or state — is the driving force behind the team’s training efforts throughout the season.
“We’re definitely super excited because the county championship is our ultimate goal as a team,” Knight said. “We all work for each other, and the coaches helped us a lot, so we want to do it for them as well. It’s an awesome way to go out, senior year.”
The Lady Falcons began scoring right from the first gun and built their lead throughout the meet on both the track and in the field.
Adams, a junior, secured her second-straight indoor county pole vault title by clearing 10 feet, 3 inches.
“I’m really glad I could do it for the team, because we do so much and work really hard every day,” said Adams.
Despite not reaching her personal-best height of 10 feet, 6 inches, Adams’ pole vault title is all the more impressive seeing as how she rarely gets reps at outdoor winter practices and just brings her best effort on meet day.
“I just practice it at meets, basically,” Adams said, laughing. “It’s too cold out.”
Adams also had to qualify her way into the final of the 55-meter hurdles, taking second in her preliminary heat, and ended up banking five points by placing fourth in the final. She noted that everyone on the team does their best through the unglamorous routine of training in frigid weather on practice days.
“Even though it seems tedious, just running, running, it does help and we are a better team because of our coaches and everyone,” she said.
Severna Park’s Alyssa Combs narrowly came in as runner-up to Broadneck’s Anna Janke in the 1600, as Janke won the event in 5:16.50 and Combs was one-tenth of a second behind at 5:16.60. Combs also placed sixth in the 3200, an event in which the Falcons scored 13 points thanks to the third-place finish of Kelsie O’Neill and fifth-place finish of Sophia Zell; Annapolis’ Anna Coffin was the two-mile champion in 11:08.41, and Mollie Fenn of Broadneck was runner-up in 11:35.99.
Severna Park’s Bella Dowdell (fifth) and Caroline Gage (eighth) added five more total points in the 1600 for the Falcons. Knight placed second in the 500 (an event won by South River’s Bronwyn Patterson), second in the 800 to Patterson and third in the 300 for a total of 24 team points, nearly a fifth of the Falcons’ total. Brenna Mullaney placed fifth in the 800 and sixth in the 500. Janice Chukwu added six total team points in her individual performances, placing fourth in the 55-meter dash and eighth in the 300.
In the field, Severna Park was bolstered by the shot put trio of Rebecca Praley, Molly Meyers and Kaylee Reyes, who placed second, fourth and sixth, respectively, garnering a total of 16 points. As runner-up Praley threw 30 feet, 4 inches, less than two feet off the winning mark of 32 feet, 3 inches thrown by Old Mill’s Hafsat Bakare.
Claire Kintzley triple-jumped 33 feet, 1 inch, good for third in a competitive field. Abigail Vandenberg placed seventh in high jump for the Falcons.
The 4x800 relay team of Bella Espinoza, Lilly Echeverria, Shania Johnson and Chukwu claimed another eight points by placing second.
Broadneck’s day was highlighted by Janke’s winning 1600 performance, Fenn’s runner-up finish to Patterson in the 3200 and the Bruins’ first-place 4x800 relay team of Janke, Jasmine Jones, Fenn and Abagail Cassidy.
On the boys side, South River claimed the team crown with a point total of 172, with Arundel (111) taking second, Severna Park (98) taking third and Broadneck (19) finishing eighth.
The Falcons’ Kyle Jefferds became a first-time county champion in the 300, clocking a personal-record 36.59 seconds to edge out Arundel’s Elijah Osimokun (36.61). Jefferds, a senior who was a key player for the Falcon boys soccer team, also placed second in the 55-meter dash and fourth in the high jump (clearing 5 feet, 8 inches) in the latest chapter of an outstanding all-around indoor season in which he has set a new personal record in his events at every meet this winter.
He said he didn’t initially set out to become a track and field champion.
“I started my sophomore year mainly just to get fast for soccer, and I ended up liking track even more and quitting my travel soccer team,” Jefferds said. “It’s something that just came pretty naturally and I really enjoyed it.”
As for becoming a first-time county champion, Jefferds was gratified: “It felt like all the hard work during the season paid off.”
Severna Park’s Alex Chaisson, also a senior, became a first-time county champion with an exciting run in the 500. Chaisson clocked a 1:09.09, surging in the final 100 meters to make a move from the outside, overtake South River’s Ryan Watson (1:09.15) and beat Watson by a head at the finish line.
Chaisson also placed second in the 800 and said the motivation he derived from teammates is exactly what he wants to pass on as a newly crowned county champ.
“It’s a very humbling experience, because I’m running with some of the fastest kids I know out here,” Chaisson said. “It’s something where the younger members of the team look and say ‘OK, that’s where I want to be,’ and it pushes everyone around me, and I love that aspect. I haven’t been a county champ, so I’ve always been that one saying, ‘I want to get there, that’s where I want to be.’ And it’s all my friends and all these people around me just pushing, it’s just fantastic.”
Other Severna Park athletes had strong days to bolster the Falcons’ point total. Garrison Clark placed second in the 1600 in 4:22.46, an event won by South River’s Sam Keeny in 4:21.55. Clark banked another eight points by placing second to Keeny in the 3200. Matthew Bateman (fourth) and Nathan Vandemeulebroecke (fifth) scored points in the 1600 for the Falcons; Jake Gelfand and Sam Martin took fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 3200. Josh Mercado banked a couple points with an eighth-place finish in the 500 and eighth in the 800.
Trevor Dearborn placed seventh in long jump for Severna Park, and Max Nelsen took eighth in shot put.
The Severna Park boys 4x800 relay team of Jack Muldoon, Nick Engleman, Collin Mullaney and Carson Sloat placed first in 8:36.25 to win a county title ahead of South River (8:42.71).