Blazers trail behind at the finish

Jan. 27, 2003, midnight | By Sherri Geng | 17 years, 12 months ago


The Blair indoor track and field teams ended a disappointingly short season with a total of 3.5 points at the MCPS Indoor Track & Field Championships at the PG Sportsplex on Monday, January 27.

The meet was highlighted by senior sprinter Briand Djenodjilem's remarkable fourth place 6.70-second finish in the first heat of the boys' 55-m dash preliminaries. Djenodjilem proceeded to the finals, where he placed fifth overall with a time of 6.73 seconds and earned Blair the only 3.5 points reaped all season.

Anchoring the boys' 4x800-m relay team were juniors Xavier Ivey and Esey Kidane and seniors Jonathan Johnson and Joshua Turnham. Blair finished seventh in the second heat with a collective time of 9:31.29 that placed 17th overall. Djenodjilem substituted for Kidane in the 4x400-m relay, pulling off a spectacular finish by passing several other teams in the final two laps. Kidane's 5:29.53-second performance tied for 12th place in his heat of the boys' 1600-m, and Djenodjilem sprinted to third place in the fourth heat of the boys' 300-m dash with an impressive 39.51 seconds.

On the girls' team, juniors Jamie Kovach and Lauren DalBello and sophomore Betsy Costilo were left to carry full weight. In the girls' 55-m, Kovach placed 15th and DalBello 28th, with times of 8.04 seconds and 9.01 seconds respectively. Costilo struggled in the girls' 500-m dash, rounding out a time of 1:58.78 that placed her second in the last heat.

Missing from the meet were key distance-runners Matt Sheldon and Laurel Jefferson, both of whom played leading roles in past meets this season.

This championship meet reflects a season of disappointments and frustrations, where Blazers struggled to improve personal records and to boost team morale. "We lost a lot of runners, and we didn't have the captains we should have had," said Coach Elaine Murray. "There was nothing to work with, nothing to really pull from."

After a discouraging performance at the MCPS Invitational, Murray pulled the teams together for a pep talk that was long overdue. "[I told them] they needed to be more devoted to running," she said. "They needed to focus, and be willing to accept a little bit of pain for a little more gain. They needed to decide whether they wanted to be runners or not."

The teams needed only one reminder before they were up on their feet again. "Once the rules were defined," said Johnson, a veteran runner on the boys' team, "people started to push themselves harder."

The teams' dwindling numbers pressed runners to focus on shaving time off of personal records, but left gaping holes in the way of team development. "They have a lot of potential, but they don't think about strategizing," said Murray. "I expected them to work hard, to be competitive, and to win...If the whole team had stayed and did those things, we would have had at least a top-four championship team."

The teams balanced their shortcomings with a core of unity and support. "They have a lot of cohension," remarked Murray. "They encourage each other a lot, which is good."

Despite a harried season, the Blazers remain unfazed. "We're not where we should be," said Costilo, "but we're definitely on our way there. Just because we're not the best doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to run."

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