Field events would have been loaded in 2020

The 2020 MIAA A Conference Track & Field Championships would have been one for the ages, according to the league’s coaches, who unanimously agreed that the amount of talent and effort put in by the athletes would have yielded historic performances. This is how the coaches saw things unfolding.

Much of the spectator focus of a track and field meet is on the running events but that does not change the fact that the field events this year in the MIAA were loaded.

Last year the pole vault featured five athletes clearing 13 feet or more, a feat never accomplished in league history. All five were back this year. Everyone awaited the top two duo of Brandon Shin from Archbishop Spalding and Ian Hoffman from Archbishop Curley leading the charge with Sal Ricci and Shelby Jackson from Gilman and Isaiah Kessler from McDonogh pushing each other to literally new heights.

The horizontal jumps were also reaching historic levels this year. There were three athletes capable of challenging the MIAA record in the triple jump – Ty Trinh of Calvert Hall, as well as Josh Green and Donnie Young of Gilman were all capable of going over 46 feet.
The long jump returned its top two athletes from last year in Donte Thornton from Mount St. Joseph and Aaron Ray from Loyola, who would have been joined by the three athletes mentioned in the triple jump, in addition to Jayden Sydnor from Calvert Hall and Jalen Marshall from Gilman. As many as seven athletes would have probably been jumping over 22 feet.

St. Joe had the returning high jump champs from both outdoor last year and indoor this year in Donte Thornton and Kai Herbert. Gilman basketball star Jordan Foster would have also been a top contender.

The shot put and discus looked to feature Sam Burke of Curley, Garik Pozecki of Calvert Hall and McDonogh’s Alex Clevenger battling it out with very long throws.

The hurdles this year may have the best they have ever been in the MIAA. All indoor season these athletes pushed each other to new levels in the 55 high hurdles and many of them were better at longer outdoor races so there would have been fireworks here to say the least. The top 110 high hurdles athletes featured a Gilman- Calvert Hall showdown as Gus Cortezi and JB Brooks led the Greyhound hurdle crew against Ty Trinh, Thomas Smith IV and Jason Holmes-Willamson of the Cardinals. Breaking 40 seconds in the 300 intermediate hurdles is an amazing achievement for a high school athletes and while Trinh does not do the longer hurdle race, this race is the specialty of Andrew Ray of Loyola. No less than five athletes would have pushed each other well under 40 seconds, all of them challenging the MIAA record in the event.

As always, fireworks were expected in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. These events featured many athletes who had won MIAA championships before in indoor or outdoor track. Sean Tucker from Calvert Hall was looking to cap off a stellar track career. Loyola’s Ray and fellow juniors Teddy Wimberly of MSJ had won outdoor titles last year in the 200 and 100, respectively. Athletes looking to challenge were led by St. Joe’s Thornton, followed by Rahkeem Smith of Calvert Hall, Mamady Dangnokho and Nico-Gonzales Reed from Gilman and Julian Howard of Curley.

The 400 was a wide open event full of intriguing questions. Owen Pett from McDonogh won the indoor 500 and would be a force to be reckoned with. There would be many questions about the race. Would any of the 300 hurdlers run the 400 instead of the 300 hurdles? They are back-to-back events so no athlete could realistically do both. Would any of the 200 meter sprinters move up to the 400? Would Ryan Moore of Calvert Hall return from an indoor injury to regain the form that enabled second place finish last year? What event would the talented Daniel Sherrod of MSJ run? What about Nigel Parker from Gilman? No one would know the answers to these questions until the entries were in. This event could have been a swing event in team scoring.

The 800 is always a very interesting event as it is late in the meet and very important in the team score race. The wild card question is often how will anyone who ran a strong 1600 a couple hours earlier come back in the 800. Spencer Pett is the MIAA champion in the indoor 800 and ran very strong all season long. The miler trio of Owen Johnson from Calvert Hall, Beck Wittstadt from Gilman and Henry Hardart from Spalding all have speed to spare, but how would they have run after a surely epic 1600 early in the day? Are there are dark horses who would run the 800 fresh and sneak in a big performance? These are the questions that make a track meet interesting.

Last year four runners broke 4:20 for the 1600 and only one graduated. Johnson, Wittstadt and Hardart would have had a battle for the ages. Ryan Miller of Spalding, Hayden Roberts of Loyola and Andrew Myers of Calvert Hall would also have threatened 4:20. The same players would have run the 3200 on day one of the championships. Lots of intriguing questions. Would the very fast Hardart and Wittstadt run this race or the 4×400 as their fourth event. The 3200 would have been under the lights at Calvert Hall and would have been an amazing way to end day one.

The four relay races are always the highlight of any track meet. The extra energy with four young men carrying the baton for their school has historically led to amazing performances and electrified fans. These events are true wild cards at times, as the participants are always a mystery due to the four event rule. The one thing we can say for certain is that numerous teams would have been under 44 seconds in the 4×100, close to 1:30 in the 4×200, under 3:30 in the 4×400 and under or near 8:00 in the 4×800. All of those marks are guidelines for excellence in relays and many MIAA teams would have reached those times.

No matter how the meet ended with the team score, there is one thing for sure. After the meet, current athletes, former athletes, coaches who have been known them for decades and coaches who just met them recently would have all shook hands with and congratulated Johnnie Foreman of Gilman and Gene Hoffman from Curley on amazing careers and a lifetime of service to and love for track and field.

This would have been a very fitting way to end an amazing two days of championships.

Pictured above: The top five pole vault placers from the 2019 MIAA track and field championships, including the top three – champion Ian Hoffman of Curley (center), runner-up Brandon Shin of Spalding (left) and Jackson Shelby of Gilman (right) – were all back in 2020. All five top contenders went over 13-feet last spring.