For two hours every Saturday morning in January, members of the Urbana High School girls’ track and field team visited with residents at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mt. Airy, keeping them company and listening to their life stories. With its recent success, the defending Class 4A state champion Hawks, who followed up their sixth consecutive Frederick County championship on Jan. 20 with another Central Maryland Conference title on Jan. 24, have a platform within Frederick County and Coach CJ Ecalono said it’s important to emphasize the value of community involvement.
“When it comes to coaching, it’s not all about numbers; we’re teachers too,” Ecalono said. “We’re teaching (our student-athletes) about life and how important it is to be involved in the community. Giving up their Saturday morning when they don’t have a track meet or practice, I think that goes a long way. I want to continue doing this, maybe we go once or twice a month.”
Engaging in such community-oriented activities only serves to strengthen the Hawks’ deep bond, which then translates into trust, and success, on the track. Urbana, that set 11 personal records, won the county meet by a 104.5-point margin not just by winning eight of 13 events, but by placing at least two student-athletes in the top six of seven events; in three events, Urbana had three finish in scoring position. Senior Piper Jons was a four-time winner, finishing first in the 55-meter and 300-meter dash races and anchoring the county champion 800 and 1,600 relays.
Junior Ella Auderset won the 500 and was part of all three winning relays, and senior Sara Jarman won the 1,600 and took second in the 3,200. Versatile senior Oni Scott edged out her sister, Ezri, for the county high jump title and picked up fourth-place finishes in the 55 hurdles and shot put. Sophomores Karly and Emily McDonnell finished second and fourth, respectively, in the 800 and ran the first two legs of the 1,600 and 3,200 relays. Other top scorers included senior Lydia Robling, sophomores Macy Hines and Lyna Beraich and freshmen Ivy Coldren and Lula Masters.
“I’ve learned a lot about our lineup and realized that we have more than just (the elite) girls to rely on in running events; we have multiple girls who have stepped up and continue to contribute,” Ecalono said. “We don’t have to (exhaust) the elite girls in relays (at regionals); we can have them focus on their open events and qualifying for states.”
Urbana used the CMC championship as a dry run for the Class 4A Central Region meet scheduled for Feb. 5, and the Hawks’ depth and versatility shined once again. Urbana, which went into the competition with the mindset that it was the state championship qualifier, won five events and finished two student-athletes in the top eight of six. Seven of the Hawks’ top scorers posted personal records.
Jons ran a personal-best (7.33 seconds) to clinch the 55 dash title and ran the second leg of the winning 800 relay. Robling won the 300 in a personal-best time of 41.67 seconds; freshman Angeline Amefia finished fifth in the event with her own top performance (44.40). Karly and Emily McDonnell went second and fourth, respectively, in the 500 and anchored the winning 800 relay. Auderset posted a season-best time of 2 minutes, 23.68 seconds en route to her win in the 800; Jarman finished fifth in the event and led off the winning 3,200 relay. Coldren and Masters, the third leg of the 3,200 relay, ran personal bests to finish third in the 1,600 and 3,200, respectively, and Beriach finished fourth in the 3,200 with her best performance. Ezri and Oni Scott and Hines took first, second and fourth, respectively in the high jump, and sophomore Fiona Agyekum finished sixth in the shot put with a personal best throw of 31 feet, 10 inches; Oni Scott placed seventh. Hines led off the third-place 1,600 relay that also included Amefia, Caitlyn Hardy and Tessa Stanley.
“The girls know we have a special team, but our state is so good this year; it’ll be a dogfight at regionals and an even bigger dogfight at states,” Ecalono said. “But we’re hitting on all cylinders and have the confidence; it’s just important that we stay positive. At this point it’s about pushing the right buttons, trusting me and trusting each other.”