Mak­ing his­tory

SMAC pro­grams en­joyed ban­ner spring sea­son

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com

When the Class 2A state in­door track and field cham­pi­onships came to its end in Fe­bru­ary, a scant three points sep­a­rated the Lackey Charg­ers girls team from a state cham­pi­onship. So when the state out­door cham­pi­onships rolled around at the end of May, those girls were de­ter­mined to make up that dif­fer­ence to lay claim to the first state cham­pi­onship tro­phy in the pro­gram’s his­tory. They did that and then some. Lackey rolled up 94 points, al­most dou­ble the to­tal of run­ner-up Here­ford of Bal­ti­more County, to earn the 2A state tro­phy. That cham­pi­onship marked not just the first state ti­tle in the pro­gram’s his­tory, it was the first girls state cham­pi­onship in school his­tory and the first state ti­tle of any kind for the school in al­most two decades.

“It was a big deal for the school and it was also a big deal for the young ladies,” Lackey head track and field coach Ji­mari Jones said, re­flect­ing on the sea­son on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. “They worked hard all year. They fell three points shy of a state cham­pi­onship in in­door, so it made this one that much more spe­cial for them.

“We had a lot of key per­for­mances from a lot of girls. They showed up big on that day. We ended up win­ning by a large mar­gin, but that’s tes­ta­ment to their hard work the whole sea­son.”

Junior Syd­ney Wil­liams won three state cham­pi­onships (200-me­ter dash, 100 and 300 hur­dles) to pace the Charg­ers at the state meet, while a half-dozen oth­ers scored points in­di­vid­u­ally. The team also fin­ished eighth in the 400 re­lay and took third in both the 800 and 1,600 re­lays. It was a big deal for the school and it was also a big deal for the young ladies. They worked hard all year. They fell three points shy of a state cham­pi­onship in in­door, so it made this one that much more spe­cial for them.

Jones knew the team had po­ten­tial at the sea­son’s start, and the girls made good on it.

“Com­ing into the out­door sea­son I knew we were go­ing

to be pretty tough,” he said. “If every­body brought their ‘A’ game we would be in the race. I let them know that we had an op­por­tu­nity and it was up to them.”

Lackey’s suc­cess was but one of many stel­lar per­for­mances from across the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence this past spring sea­son.

West­lake’s boys made it a Charles County sweep in the 2A com­pe­ti­tion at the state track meet.

The Wolver­ines took home six first-place fin­ishes in earn­ing the pro­gram’s sev­enth state ti­tle and sec­ond in as many years.

Will Moten won the 100 and 200, while Thomas Al­corn (400) and Ja’len El­liott (110 hur­dles) also earned state cham­pi­onships. West­lake also took the 400 and 1,600 re­lays in ac­cu­mu­lat­ing 75 points to com­fort­ably top run­ner-up Cen­tury of Car­roll County’s 61.

The team ti­tles high­lighted a ban­ner year for SMAC track and field pro­grams, as the ath­letes from South­ern Mary­land com­bined to win 21 events at this year’s state meets across all clas­si­fi­ca­tions.

But the his­tory-mak­ing was not ex­clu­sive to SMAC’s track and field pro­grams. La Plata and Hunt­ing­town base­ball won the re­spec­tive 2A and 3A cham­pi­onships, the lat­ter of which was the first base­ball state ti­tle ever in Calvert County and also the first boys state cham­pi­onship in school his­tory.

In the case of Hunt­ing­town head base­ball coach Guy Smith, the state cham­pi­onship re­al­ized a goal that spanned back well be­fore his coach­ing ca­reer ever be­gan.

“I’ve been in­volved in high school base­ball since 1984,” he said on the field at Rip­ken Sta­dium in Aberdeen fol­low­ing the Hur­ri­canes’ 4-3 win over Chesapeake in the 3A fi­nal on May 30. “My dad was coach­ing and I was run­ning around at North­ern High School. My dad coached for 35 years and he coached with me here and at Calvert. He passed away, was here the last time we came. So for my­self, per­son­ally, to have an op­por­tu­nity to win a state ti­tle, it’s for every­body. My fa­ther, it’s Memo­rial Day and he was a vet, to come along and do these things is an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing.”

La Plata’s soft­ball team earned the first state cham­pi­onship in its his­tory and was one of three SMAC soft­ball pro­grams to play for a state cham­pi­onship.

One of those soft­ball pro­grams, Chop­ti­con, played in the state fi­nal for the first time since 1985 when it met Sher­wood of Mont­gomery County in the 4A cham­pi­onship game. And stay­ing in St. Mary’s County, the Leonard­town girls lacrosse team be­came the first South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence lacrosse pro­gram ever to play in a state cham­pi­onship game.

The Raiders de­feated a pair of Anne Arun­del County teams — South River and Broad­neck — in suc­ces­sion to win the 4A-3A East Re­gion cham­pi­onship. Leonard­town then built on the mo­men­tum of its first re­gional cham­pi­onship with an 11-6 win over Win­ston Churchill of Mont­gomery County in the state semi­fi­nals be­fore the run fi­nally ended with a 15-11 loss to Bal­ti­more County’s Du­laney in the 4A-3A fi­nal.

For Leonard­town se­nior Chelsea Ki­bler, who was named the Most Out­stand­ing Player in SMAC, the jour­ney to get to the fi­nal was some­thing she would al­ways re­mem­ber.

“I think when I look back at the sea­son in the com­ing years I won’t think about this game or this feel­ing I’m feel­ing right now,” Ki­bler said fol­low­ing the state fi­nal. “I’m def­i­nitely go­ing to think about those wins we had over South River and Broad­neck and how amaz­ing that feel­ing re­ally was.”

His­tor­i­cally, SMAC spring sports have been strong. Most no­table, per­haps, would be soft­ball, where at least one SMAC team has won a state cham­pi­onship ever y year since 2005. Track and field pro­grams have been rather suc­cess­ful in their own right, and if things work out, Jones would love to see Lackey, which had just two se­niors com­pet­ing at the state meet this year, add to that in the fu­ture.

“Track in our con­fer­ence has been kind of fly­ing un­der the radar for a while,” he said. “West­lake has been good for a while, Hunt­ing­town’s been up and down. We’ve ac­tu­ally had at least an in­di­vid­ual state re­lay ti­tle eight years in a row. SMAC has been putting it­self on the map, so to speak, even if it’s un­der the radar . ... Our team is re­ally young, so hope­fully, God-will­ing, we can re­peat.”

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Lackey High School girls track and field wins the Class 2A state track and field cham­pi­onships team ti­tle May 28 at Mor­gan State Univer­sity in Bal­ti­more. The cham­pi­onship marked not just the first state ti­tle in the pro­gram’s his­tory, it was the first girls state cham­pi­onship in school his­tory and the first state ti­tle of any kind for the school in al­most two decades.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Do­minique Jef­fery and the Lackey Charg­ers girls track and field team won the Class 2A state track and field cham­pi­onships team ti­tle on May 28, the first of its kind for the pro­gram.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Junior Syd­ney Wil­liams won three state cham­pi­onships (200-me­ter dash, 100 and 300 hur­dles) to pace the Lackey girls track and field to the Class 2A state track and field cham­pi­onships team ti­tle in Bal­ti­more.

FILE PHOTO BY AJ MASON

Will Moten won the 100- and 200-me­ter dashes at the Class 2A state track and field cham­pi­onships on May 28 in Bal­ti­more en route to West­lake boys claim­ing the pro­gram’s sev­enth state ti­tle and sec­ond in as many years.

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