As the 2017-2018 indoor track and field season comes to an end, the team is looking back on how far both the men’s and women’s squads have come since 2017. The athletes have found confidence in themselves and each other as they move into a new era without their star sprinter.
The team lost NCAA qualifier Devonte Williams to graduation last year. During his college career, Williams became a four-time all-American champion and was someone whom the team looked up to for his hard work and dedication to his sport. Williams was best known for his accomplishments in the 4x200m relay and eventually became the face of the Stevenson track and field program, according to head coach Erick Camodeca.
Without Williams, the team hasn’t found one single person to rely on to lead the way to victory. Instead, several of Williams’ former teammates have stepped up and are ready to continue his legacy.
Camodeca said, “It was a great opportunity for people to step up, and as disappointing as it was to lose him because of graduation, we weren’t really too worried.” Juniors Matt Riggins, Aaron Holliday, and Morgan Cheatham, and freshman Dereck Davis have all pushed their hardest to be what their team needs, said Camodeca.
Junior Langston Gash qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC’s) in the 3000, earning him fourth place in the event at the Bison Open and Multimeet, and freshman Sean Dodson also qualified in the 500, fifth overall at the tournament. Stevenson freshman Clement Onyebadi will also be competing in the high jump at the ECAC’s.
At the Susquehanna Indoor Challenge in early February, the Mustangs placed first overall in two events and qualified for the ECAC Indoor Championships in the 4x200m relay. The team includes freshman Dereck Davis, along with juniors Cheatham, Josh Mitchell and Vladhimir Theophile.
On the women’s side, the team is currently regionally-ranked second in the Mideast. Sophomore Danika Ani qualified for the ECACs in both the weight throw and shot put at Franklin and Marshall’s Coach I Open in mid-January. Bucknell University meet (the Bison Open and Multimeet), first year hurdler and pentathloner Rachel Panek qualified for ECACs in the 60m hurdles, while Hammond will compete in the ECACs in the 60m dash. Hammond also qualified for the ECACs in the 4x400m relay team with Hicks, and freshmen Allison Krahe and Ryley Hinson.
At the most recent Susquehanna Indoor Challenge, Stevenson’s 4x200m relay team of sophomore Kimberly Hammond, freshman Rachel Panek, sophomore Dyonne Hicks and freshman Shayri Perez took second overall and qualified for ECAC indoor competition.
The head coach and team may not be too worried about who will lead the way for the others in the near future, but they do continue to worry about their biggest challenge since Camodeca became the head coach in 2014: their lack of a home track. The team struggles to find facilities in which to practice during the winter months and players are forced to wake up in the early hours of the morning and travel 45 minutes to practice in an indoor facility that is not Stevenson property.
Their current alternatives to going to this facility are either to practice within the Reisterstown Sportsplex nearby, which only provides a short hallway for sprints, or to practice outside at nearby Owings Mills High School where the temperatures remain freezing.
The team does face several issues as they move forward with their indoor season, but Camodeca has faith that his team will persevere as they head into the outdoor season. The men’s team has only one more meet left in the regular season until the Middle Atlantic Conference and ECAC Championships begin.
The men’s team’s next and final meet before the MAC championships will be the NYU Invitational on Feb. 9 at the New York Armory Facility.
The women compete next in the MAC championships beginning Feb. 23 at Lehigh University.