Capital Gazette 2023-24 boys indoor track and field All-County


It’s been 40 years since the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association adopted the 800-meter run into its indoor state program. Entering this season, only two runners had accomplished the distance “triple crown” — winning state championships in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.

In February, Southern’s Eric Penkala became the third.

“He’s been consistent, he’s been competitive. He just trusts the process,” Southern coach Leon Tucker said. “The thing about Eric and his season, he just stuck with it. He trusted the process, he trusted the and trusted the coaches and he put it all together.”

Penkala left the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex with three individual Class 2A gold medals, winning the 800 (1:58.44), 1,600 (4:17.46) and 3,200 (9:31.39).

“From counties all the way up to states, actually the whole season, I’ve been doing the mile, two-mile, 800 combo. Every time I did that it was kind of a new experience, new feelings in terms of the lactic acid, the pain,” Penkala said. “When I got to counties, I kind of knew what I had to do. And especially at regionals, I knew it was going to hurt, it was going to be hard, but when it came to states, when I won the mile, it gave me confidence.

“The two-mile, I just blew through it, and in the 800 I just held on. I put my head down and just went.”

Penkala won the 800 state championship as a sophomore and has consistently been among the area’s top distance runners. But Tom Prendki, who coaches Penkala in and is the track distance coach, said he saw a significant change in Penkala this year that elevated the junior to elite status.

“His confidence level, once he realized that he could run just as well as his main competitors and he felt he was equal, that’s when he really took off,” Prendki said.

Both Penkala and the coaches hope this only the beginning, not just for Penkala’s career, but for the program. With Penkala’s state success and the strong performance from the Southern girls team, they hope is the program’s numbers continue to rise and the that suit up can see the heights that are attainable.

“First I hope it helps bring people out for and track. We’re a small school; we don’t get too many people,” Penkala said, “but if they join, I want them see that they can do anything. They can go a lot more than they think. They can see the recognition they can get. There’s going to be some hard days, but they can do what they put their mind to.”

Penkala said a disappointing end to his sophomore season left him with a drive to become a better .

“Over the summer and into the fall when cross country practice started, I emphasized it was going to be a whole new year, a whole new me,” Penkala said. “We’re not giving up as easily — not giving up at all — but I knew that junior year, that’s when the real times start to come out and I knew I’d have to trust the process, do the work and it will all come out on top.”

But did his coaches think that would all lead to three state championships?

“On paper, yes. But that was a tall order. A very tall order,”  Prendki said. “But he ever ceases to amaze.”

Coach of the Year

Stacy Severtson, Crofton

This winter was tough on all Anne Arundel County coaches. With the track and Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex, one of the few indoor facilities in Maryland shut down for the first month of the season, coaches had to work extra hard to get their ready for the end of season meets.

Severtson had the Cardinals ready to go. Crofton dominated regular season county meets, and even though they were edged out by Old Mill by three points in the county championship, the Cardinals came back and dominated the 4A Central Region meet, winning by 46 points.

All-County first team

Caleb Adams, Chesapeake, senior

Adams ran 35.78 to win the county champion in the 300 and was second at regionals in the event. He also ran on two county championship relays: the 4×200 and 4×400. He was county up in the 55.

Matthew Calinda, Meade, senior

Calinda was county champion in the 500 (1:06.95). He went on to place second at regionals and fourth at the 4A state meet in the event. He also took third at counties in the 300.

Chancellor DeRosier, Old Mill, senior

In one of the state meet’s most thrilling races, DeRosier won the 4A 55 hurdles in a photo finish, running 7.54. He won counties in the event and was also a county -up in the triple jump (46-1).

Old Mill'sTsedeke Jakovics, right, was 4A state champion in the 800 and runner-up in the 1,600. (Brian Krista/staff photo)
Old Mill’sTsedeke Jakovics, right, was 4A state champion in the 800 and runner-up in the 1,600. (Brian Krista/staff photo)

Tsedeke Jakovics, Old Mill, junior

Jakovics has become one of the Baltimore area’s top distance runners. He was 4A state champion in 800 (1:54.82) and runner-up in the 1,600. He won both events, and the 3,200 at the county championships.

Josh Rowe, Meade, junior

Rowe backed up his county shot put championship with a 4A Central Region championship, throwing a personal best 43.6.

Chase Severtson, Crofton, senior

Severtson came back from a county runner-up finish in the pole vault to win the 4A Central Region title. He placed fifth at states, matching his career best, clearing 12-6.

Kayvawn Simms-Rogers, Meade, senior

The county and regional 55 champ ran a personal-best 6.43 at the 4A state meet and needed very hundredth of a second of it to win the state title in a photo finish.

Gunnar Williams, Arundel, senior

After not running the 55 final at the county meet, Williams finished second at the 3A Central Region meet and third at the state meet. He also took third at state in the 300.

Kian Williams, Severna Park, senior

Williams put on a show at the 3A state meet, winning the high jump clearing 6-6. He cleared 6-8 at a meet in Virginia Beach. Williams was also county champion in the long jump and triple jump.

All-County second team

Elijah Ford, North County, senior

Zaiden Lane, Arundel, senior

Fox Larson, Broadneck, senior

London Layton, Crofton, senior

Caden Lazzor, Severna Park, junior

Liam Lear-wecht, South River, senior

John Mclain, Severna Park, senior

Daniel Miller, Spalding, senior

Willem Martino, Spalding, junior

Edwin Torres, Chesapeake Science Point, senior



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