The pre-holidays portion of the winter indoor high school track and field schedule is generally a tune-up for athletes and teams as they prepare for the heavy bulk of the schedule in January and February. For younger team members, the first month or so of the season is about learning their events and becoming acclimated to high school track and field.
Chantilly High, like most teams around the area, has gone through the break-in period of the season and is now ready and hoping for a highly successful stretch run as the postseason meets loom just ahead.
“December always tends to be a little bit of an adjustment period because young kids are trying to get experience,” said Matt Gilchrist, the Chargers’ head coach. “Some of our freshmen and sophomores could make contributions down the road for us [this season].”
Gilchrist is pleased by what he has seen from his more seasoned athletes.
“A number of our veterans have started off very well and we can realistically expect big things from them,” said the coach.
One of the top members of the boys’ team is Mohammed Labor-Koroma, a versatile senior whose main event is the 500 but who also will help the Chargers in numerous other events.
“He’s having a fantastic season,” said Gilchrist. “He has a chance to win the state in the 500.”
The past two years have seen Labor-Koroma capture first place in the 500 at both the Concorde District and Northern Region Championships. He placed third in the 500 event at last Saturday’s Montgomery Invitational meet in Maryland, where he finished behind two Maryland school runners.
On top of excelling in the 500, Labor-Koroma is a points’ earner in several other running and field events. He competes in the 300 race and the 4x800 relay, as well as the long and high jumps, and triple jump.
Last year he was part of Chantilly’s region championship 4x800-relay team. That foursome also included since-graduated star distance runner Chris Foley, a current member of the University of Virginia men’s indoor team.
“Mo’s an incredibly strong, disciplined [athlete] and has shown the ability to compete in four or five events,” said Gilchrist. “We know that will be his role at districts and we’ll be counting on him in several events.”
The Concorde District championships are less than two weeks away, tabbed to begin on Friday, Jan. 28.
Gilchrist said Labor-Koroma, who began competing in indoor track as a sophomore after wrestling his freshmen year, has progressed as a track athlete with each and every indoor and outdoor season.
“He’s gotten a little better each year,” said Gilchrist. “Not just as a runner, but as a jumper, high jumper, middle distance [runner]. He was all-district in cross country this [past fall].”
Another key member for the Chantilly boys is sophomore distance runner Sean McGorty, who will be part of the Chargers’ 4x800 relay this season. He was district champion and region runner-up in cross country during the fall. At the Montgomery Invitational on Saturday he earned a state-qualifying time in the two-mile race. This indoor postseason will see McGorty competing in the two mile and one mile races, as well as the 4x800.
“He’s still a sophomore and needs more racing experience,” said Gilchrist. “He’s still getting mature as a track athlete. Track and cross country are not the same. But he learned a lot last year working with Chris [Foley].”
Two other boys’ athletes to keep an eye on are junior Arthur McDuffy and Miles Ransom. McDuffy has been an All-District performer in both the long and triple jump events the past two years, and is likely to be a true region contender in both this year.
“This year he’s showing consistency at the region level,” said Gilchrist.
Ransom will be a district contender in both the 55-hurdlesd and pole vault events.
Chantilly has a number of superb girls’ athletes in senior Nina Ullom and junior Jaquelyn Sieder. Ullom has been All-Region in pole vault each of the last two years in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Sieder was All-Region in the 500 last year. Another outstanding athlete for the Chargers is sophomore Kendall Cowne (mile, 1,000, 500), a first year member of the Chantilly squad.
“In four meets she’s been very competitive,” said Gilchrist, of Cowne. “I expect her to be competitive at the district and region level.”
<b>CHANTILLY</b> will be competing at the Liberty Flames High School Invitational this weekend in Lynchburg. Gilchrist said he will take 50 of his athletes to the big, two-day meet. Other members of the squad, on Saturday, will be taking part in a meet closer to home at Thomas Jefferson High in Alexandria.
Gilchrist said the weekend in Lynchburg will be an opportunity for Chantilly athletes to really make an impression in their respective events.
“We’re looking for kids to step up and separate themselves,” said Gilchrist.
Next week, on Jan. 21, Chantilly will return to Lynchburg again for a smaller meet at Liberty. Hopefully for Chantilly, the two weekend meets at Liberty will give the team a boost going into the following week’s district meet.