Ekpone takes three events at Montgomery Invitational
Northwest star takes gold in 55M dash, 400, 4x200 relay
Olivia Ekponewonthree events at the Montgomery Invitational on Saturday in Landover, showing yet again why she was one of the most sought-after recruits in the country.
Watching Ekpone circle the 200-meter track at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex on Saturday, it’s easy to see why she was so coveted. The Northwest senior, who has committed to two-time defending NCAA outdoor champion Texas A&M, started the day with a victory in the 55-meter dash, freezing the clock in 6.96 seconds, a personal best to tie the meet record.
“I haven’t done any speed work whatsoever,” said Ekpone, who is just the third girl in the country to break seven seconds. “I feel very happy.”
She won the 400 a short while later. Ekpone made a competitive field look rather ordinary as she crossed in 56.79, 1.5 seconds faster than runner-up Alexis Franklin of OldMill.
The near-capacity crowd got as loud as it had been all day during the 4x200 relay. It erupted into full-throated whoops soon after Ekpone grabbed the baton for the last leg of the race. She rocketed from second place into first on the backstretch before kicking home and delivering the win. Britt Eckerstrom, India Knight, Sheridan Allen and Ekpone took gold in 1 minute 44.11 seconds.
The meet started on a more somber note. A moment of silencewasobservedin memory of Alex Popeck. Popeck, a junior at Sherwood and a member of theWarriors’ track team, died Friday from injuries suffered during a car accident on Dec. 12. He was 17. Members of Sherwood’s track team wore black shirts during the meet to mark the passing of their friend and teammate.
Ekpone’s wasn’t the only nationallyperformance. The track in Landover is a fast surface — it played host to Nike Indoor Nationals from 2001 until the meetwasmovedtoBostonin2009 — and Eckerstrom took advantage. She breezed to victory in the invitational 500 in 1:15.07, a meet record and the No. 1 time in the country.
Champ Page was hardly outdone. The Wise junior led the boys’ 500fromstart tofinish, withstanding a late charge from DeMatha’s ThomasGaither before winning in 1:05.74. That time is the secondfastest boys’ time in the nation.
The boys from Annandale fared well. John Jenkins was the No. 2 seed headed into the 55 hurdles final, but the senior won convincingly in 7.44, a meet record. Senior teammate Joel Hoisington was equally dominant in the field. He won the shot put with 52 feet 9.75 inches, a toss more than three feet furtherthanhis nearestcompetitor.
Kennedy senior Thea LaFond missed all three of her high jump attempts at 5-10, but won the competition with 5-8, earning a share of the meet record. LaFond was so overcome with joy that, after getting up off the mat, she buried her face in her hands. Her previous bestmarkwas 5-5. “I wasn’t expecting this,” LaFond said.