[Baltimore Sun] Baltimore Sun girls indoor track and field preview: Storylines, athletes to watch and top 15 teams heading into 2023-24 season

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Here’s what you need to know for the 2023-24 high school girls indoor track and field season in the Baltimore area.

Storylines to watch

Can Oakland Mills continue its budding dynasty?

The Oakland Mills girls track and field program has been on a roll recently. The Scorpions won the past two outdoor state championships in Class 2A, as well as last year’s indoor state title — a total of three in a row. Keeping the streak going will be a challenge. Not only does Oakland Mills bump up to 3A this year, but it has to fill quite a few holes in the lineup, including all four members of last year’s championship 4×200-meter relay team. Fisayo Sule, Nkechi Okpowasili and Valerie Ashamu provide a strong nucleus of returners that should keep Oakland Mills near the top.

Family matters at McDonogh.

The Cooper sisters continue to unite at McDonogh. Last year, Ella Cooper transferred from Bryn Mawr to join her sister Elise at McDonogh and the two were key in leading the Eagles to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship. This year, Elena Cooper, the IAAM runner-up in the 500 metes, joins her sisters. The three finished first, second and third in the 500 last year at the IAAM championships and could do so again on the same team.

Can a local team make a run at the Class 1A state title?

Last winter, Smithsburg won the Class 1A state title going away, but area teams Western Tech and South Carroll were involved in a logjam to round out the top five. While Smithsburg has a formidable returning lineup, both the Wolverines, the 1A outdoor state champions, and the Cavaliers figure to be in the mix again. Harford Tech also brings a strong team to the table as it drops from 2A.

The Class 2A state title is up for grabs.

Oakland Mills’ move to 3A opens to door for a new champion to be crowned in 2A. Century finished just three points behind the Scorpions for last year’s state title after finishing second behind Hereford in 2022. The Knights and the Bulls each figure to be top contenders for this year’s crown. Hereford has a strong distance crew to lead the way and Century, despite graduating some top runners, will be bolstered by freshman Taylor Colson, who’s fresh off an individual cross country state championship. 

Anne Arundel County is a wide-open race.

A year ago, Broadneck cruised to the Anne Arundel County championship, but the talent gap is not as wide as the Bruins’ 28-point win would make it seem. At the 4A state meet, Old Mill, Severna Park and Arundel all bested Broadneck’s total. There is a wealth of talent returning on all teams, including three state champions: Old Mill’s Jasmine Cook (55 meters), Arundel’s Noel Evans (500) and Broadneck’s Carson Boteler (pole vault). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to top athletes in the county. It should make for a fun county meet and postseason.

Players to watch

Elise Cooper, McDonogh, junior

Last year’s All-Metro indoor track and field Athlete of the Year is poised for an even bigger season. Area fans might not get to see her much, however, as she’ll be competing at several regional and national meets.

Jalaia Creary, Archbishop Spalding, senior

Creary might be the area’s top sprinter not named Cooper. At last season’s IAAM indoor championships, she was second in the 55 and third in the 300 and long jump.

2023 Anne Arundel County outdoor track and field championships
John Gillis/for Capital Gazette

Arundel’s Noel Evans won the Class 4A state championship in the 400 meters during the outdoor season. (John Gillis/For Baltimore Sun Media)

Noel Evans, Arundel, senior

Evans returns after winning a 4A state championship in the 500 and also leading the Wildcats to gold in the 4×400, a relay team in which three members return.

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Baltimore Sun high boys indoor track and field preview: Storylines, athletes to watch and top 15 teams heading into 2023-24 season

Le’la Greene, McDonogh, senior

Greene is a valuable member of a McDonogh team that is perhaps the best in the area. She won last season’s IAAM A Conference championship in the 55 hurdles and was fourth in the 300.

Arayana Ladson, Mt. Hebron, senior

Ladson has amassed quite a medal collection during her time with the Vikings and is likely to add to it this year. She was last season’s 3A state champion in the 55 and finished third in the 55 hurdles.

Sylvia Snider, Hereford, junior

One of the top distance runners in the area, Snider looks to lead the Bulls back into a championship spot. She was second in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200 at last season’s 2A state meet.

Lauren Virmani, River Hill, sophomore

Virmani had an amazing opening to her high school track career last season, winning the 3A state championship in the 3,200 and finishing second in the 1,600.

Nikiyah Williams, Woodlawn, senior

Williams is coming off a stellar junior season in which she won the 3A state championship in the 300 and was second in the 500.

Preseason Top 15 teams

1. McDonogh
Coach: Phil Turner
Last season: IAAM A Conference champion
Outlook: McDonogh is strong in every area, from sprinters and distance runners to jumpers and throwers. There’s not a weak spot, and teams will be hard-pressed to top McDonogh at any meet.

2. Archbishop Spalding
Coach: Jessica Beard
Last season: Third in IAAM A Conference
Outlook: Creary and Athena Stith provide a strong foundation for a Cavaliers team that looks to challenge McDonogh in the IAAM.

3. Oakland Mills
Coach: Renato Gonzalez
Last season: Class 2A state champion
Outlook: The Scorpions have won three straight state championships combining indoor and outdoor seasons but have to reload while moving up to 3A.

4. Maryvale Prep
Coach: Jason Miller
Last season: IAAM A Conference runner-up
Outlook: Maryvale edged Spalding for second place in the conference last season thanks to its performance in field events, which should again be a strength.

5. River Hill
Coach: Ammera Schmidt
Last season: Third in Class 3A
Outlook: The Hawks backed up their third-place indoor finish with an outdoor state championship. Virmani and her sister Marella will be huge point scorers at just about any meet they compete in.

Taylor Colson of Century High School
Karen Jackson/Baltimore Sun Media Group

Century’s Taylor Colson won the Class 2A race at the state cross country championships. (Karen Jackson/For Baltimore Sun Media)

6. Century
Coach: Alexis Daniel
Last season: Class 2A runner-up
Outlook: The Knights have shown strength across the board in recent years and that doesn’t figure to change, although the addition of freshman state cross country champion Taylor Colson will bolster their distance corps.

7. Mt. Hebron
Coach: Jordan Sterner
Last season: Class 3A runner-up
Outlook: With Ladson leading the team, the Vikings will be in contention for a county championship and could make another run at a state title.

8. Arundel
Coach: Eric Allen
Last season: Sixth in Class 4A
Outlook: With Evans a threat to win any mid-distance race and three of the four members of its championship 4×400 relay team back, Arundel will be a threat in the county and its new home in 3A.

9. Hereford
Coach: Brad Duvall
Last season: Third in Class 2A
Outlook: Distance running has been a strength for the Bulls and that will be the case once again with Snider and Rebekkah Hillier leading the way.

10. Severna Park
Coach: Josh Alcombright
Last season: Fourth in Class 4A
Outlook: The Falcons have holes to fill in their lineup but that has not been a problem in recent years. Severna Park will be a top contender again for the county title as well as the 3A crown.

11. Harford Tech
Coach: Darrell Diamond
Last season: 18th in Class 2A
Outlook: A strong nucleus of underclassmen helped make the Cobras one of the best teams in Harford County last year, and the returning group should continue to progress.

12. Old Mill
Coach: Justin Murdock
Last season: Third in Class 4A
Outlook: Jasmine Cook was the state champion in the 55 last season and will be a solid contributor again for the Patriots as they look to contend in Anne Arundel County and the state.

13. South Carroll
Coach: Stacie Wallace
Last season: Fifth in Class 1A
Outlook: The Cavaliers need to fill the shoes of Lauren Chesney, a state champ in the 300, but have strong options to do so in Ella Boyce and Brooke Turner, among others.

14. Western Tech
Coach: Clarissa Higgins
Last season: Fourth in Class 1A
Outlook: The Wolverines look to bring their outdoor success indoors. They claimed the state title last spring and have several of the same athletes ready for the winter.

15. Broadneck
Coach: Joshua Webster
Last season: Anne Arundel County champions
Outlook: Despite a comfortable win in the county meet, the Bruins struggled at states, but they return pole vault state champion Carson Boteler.

Others considered: C. Milton Wright, Hammond, Howard, Severn, Westminster

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