Lost in the shuffle of some magnificent performances among the young men and women within the 5A and 6A classifications was a solid group effort by the boys' sprinters from Potomac High in Dumfries. Six Panthers combined among six events to score 53.5 of Potomac's 58.5 points, which was enough to put them in solid contention for the state title right up until the last event when L.C. Bird nailed down the decisive eight points to win with 66.
Under the tutelage of sprint coach Kenny Harrison and head coach Jeffrey Foy, five of the six runners will attempt to make noise on the national scene this weekend as the Panthers compete in two events, with aspirations of scoring in each one.
Last year, most of the fireworks coming from Dumfries came from Donovan Louis, a former 1,000-yard rusher on the Panther football team who made bigger waves with indoor and outdoor track and decided to forego his senior year on the gridiron and concentrate on his sprinting and jumping. The decision paid off as Louis earned a track scholarship to Virginia Tech, where he will contend on the track and in the field.
At the 5A state meet, Louis won the 55 in 6.43, ran a leg of the Panthers winning 4x200 (1:30.03) and placed second in the long jump with a 23-5.5. He will be concentrating on the long jump this weekend at the Armory in NYC, and hopes to get past his best jump of 24-3. How much farther remains anyone's guess, and Louis isn't quick to tell.
"Looking to win," said Louis on Monday evening when asked about his goal. "And to put up a jump that'll shock everyone." However, the specifics were left out. "I wouldn't say the distance I'm aiming for."
Rawle Brebnor Jr. improved exponentially last year to move into the upper echelon of 5A sprinters. Brebnor, who recently committed to run for Indiana Institute of Technology, placed sixth in the 55 at States, and ran the 300 and Potomac's fourth-place 4x400, but the senior has specific goals for his weekend, in which he will run on the 4x200 and open 200.
"My goal is to just run fast try to make the finals in the 200. (In the) 4x200, we are trying to win the whole thing," said Brebnor, with no pretense of modesty intended.
Bryan Ahouman, third in the 55 (6.47) is the up and comer of the Panther contingent. Ahouman has emerged as a sophomore and also ran a leg on the 4x200, a task he will duplicate in New York.
Matthew Mitchell placed second in the 55 hurdles at the 5A meet, and he will join Ahouman, Brebnor and Anthony Cole (4x200 champion, sixth - HJ) as the Panther's fearsome foursome. Mitchell also eked out a point as the eighth-place finisher in the long jump (21-8.25).
Dashon Reeves was also on the winning 4x200 squad, as well as the 4x400, but will be unable to make the trip to New York. But the five Panthers making the trip will hope to bring back a reminder of their journey, preferably in gold, silver or bronze form.