Howard County 2024 girls outdoor track and field All-County: Oakland Mills senior Shania Staats named Athlete of the Year (2024)

Oakland Mills senior Shania Staats is meticulous.

In 2022, as a sophom*ore at Wilde Lake, Staats qualified for the New Balance Outdoor Nationals Rising Stars long jump. Shortly before, Staats began keeping a journal where she wrote down the personal record distance of each opponent, as well as a personal goal. That rigorous preparation paid dividends as she won the national title, jumping 19 feet, 6 1/4 inches.

That birthed a tradition. Staats has continued writing down the personal records of each long jump opponent, particularly before big meets. It helped guide her to the 2023 Class 3A long jump state title (17-10 1/4).

Staats maintained that tradition after transferring to Oakland Mills. She won county and regional titles in long jump as well as a second consecutive 3A state title to close her career (18-5 1/2).

However, Staats proved she’s much more than just a standout long jumper. She competed in the 100 and 200, ran on the 4×100 relay team and won a second gold medal at states in the 100 (12.07 seconds).

For her versatility, Staats is the 2024 Howard County Times girls outdoor track and field Athlete of the Year.

The summer prior to her senior year, Staats came to several Scorpions club track practices and her power immediately stood out to coach Chris Brewington. When she started at Oakland Mills in the fall, Brewington explained to her that the speed of the sprints would help her in long jump. She immediately bought in and consistently asked questions to improve as a sprinter.

That open-mindedness blended seamlessly with the Scorpions’ track and field culture predicated on excellence and versatility.

“My [older] sister Shanise was the sprinter and hurdler and I said, ‘OK, I’m going to go jump,'” Staats said. “With her leaving, I felt like I had to create something of my own. Me transferring to another school as well, Brewington gave me the confidence to try something new and get some spotlight on me, not just my sister and brother because they were also great runners.”

Staats developed into one of the state’s top sprinters. At states, the senior overcame a slow start and surged late, leaning on the consistent pre-race message from Brewington: “Run your own race.”

“She’s always asking questions,” Brewington said. “One of the things I told her early on is, ‘There’s never a dumb question, especially with someone who’s coming from a different program. I want you to ask all the questions.’ She always did. I said, ‘If you don’t think I’m paying enough attention to your starts or your form, grab me and ask me to look at something specifically.'”

Howard County 2024 girls outdoor track and field All-County: Oakland Mills senior Shania Staats named Athlete of the Year (1)

Staats’ sprinting potential was evident from the opening meet of the indoor season. On Dec. 8 at Mercersburg, Staats won the 55 in 7.39 seconds. It set the tone for the remainder of the year and also served as an important turning point.

“I was excited to work with her because I knew she understands track,” Brewington said. “At the same time, I knew there was some room for growth, especially on the sprint side. At Oakland Mills, we don’t do specialists. So, I had to ingrain that in her because I think she’s always thought of herself as just a jumper. Once she got a hold of that during indoor, running the 55 well, I think it really took off from there. Once you started seeing the results in both the jumps and sprints, that’s when everything really started to come together.”

The 55 helped further fuel Staats’ perfectionist mindset as she refined working on her start. While it took some time away from long jump, it pushed her to do more and evolve. With long jump not an event at indoor states, Staats solely focused on sprints and placed fifth.

Those sprinting strides directly translated to Staats’ effectiveness during the outdoor season. Sprinting aided her long jump approach by adding more speed and power. Both traits were evident during the Scorpion Classic in what Staats described as the season’s best moment: Soaring past her nationals distance and setting a new personal best long jump of 20-6 3/4.

“I literally cried my eyes out because I didn’t think I would achieve that 19-6 mark again,” she said. “Brewington was always in my corner saying, ‘You’re going to do it, you’re good just focus on yourself. Focus on one step at a time.’ I think him helping me with that was probably the best moment of my whole track career in high school.”

Concluding her decorated high school career, Staats’ track and field journey now enters its next phase, where she’ll be long jumping at George Mason University.

“I think that there’s always something more to achieve,” Staats said. “If you limit yourself, then you’re willing to fail. I’m blessed to have even achieved the 20-feet mark and anything that I do achieve. I think big goals help you achieve bigger things, so that’s what I keep in my mind. There’s more to achieve and more to get.”

Howard County 2024 girls outdoor track and field All-County: Oakland Mills senior Shania Staats named Athlete of the Year (2)

All-County first team

Valerie Ashamu, Oakland Mills, senior

Ashamu won the high jump at counties (5-2) and regionals (5-6), closing out her career with a state silver medal (5-06). She also finished third in the 300 at both counties and regionals, highlighted by a personal record time at regionals (57.81).

Janelle Codrington, Oakland Mills, junior

Codrington thrived in the hurdles throughout the season. She won the county 100-meter (15.33) and 300-meter hurdles (46.47), with a personal record time in the 300. The junior set a new personal best in the 300 at regionals (45.84) and placed second in the 100. At states, she concluded the season with a fourth-place finish and in the 100 and sixth in the 300.

Bianca Durant, Howard, junior

Durant finished fifth in the 100 and fourth in the 200 at counties. She improved on her time at regionals, finishing second in the 200 (25.30) and fifth in the 100. The junior closed the season with a 3A state silver medal in the 200 (25.04) and a personal-record sixth-place time in the 100 (12.30).

Alicia Hall, Oakland Mills, junior

At counties, Hall finished second in the triple jump, third in the long jump and fourth in shot put. The junior earned third place finishes in the triple and long jump at regionals. She concluded the season winning a 3A gold medal in the triple jump (38-11 1/4), also fourth in the long jump and fifth in high jump.

Eniya Headspeth, Centennial, sophom*ore

Headspeth won the 400 at counties and regionals with a personal record time at counties (57.04). She showcased her versatility at regionals with a third-place finish and another personal best in the 100 (12.43), plus a regional title as part of the 4×400 relay team. At states, she set two more personal bests, with a 2A silver medal in the 400 (56.12) and eighth in the 100 (12.36).

Riley Herdson, Centennial, junior

At counties, Herdson finished second in the 800 and fourth in the 200. She won the 800 title at regionals with a personal best time of 2:14.07, ran on the winning 4×400 relay team and on the second place 4×800 relay team. The junior closed set another personal best in the 800 at states (2:13.87) as the 2A runner-up and was a member of the fourth-place 4×400 relay team.

Codi Malott, Oakland Mills, freshman

Malott burst onto the scene for the Scorpions as a freshman. She ran a pair of personal record times at regionals in the 100 hurdles (16.20) and 300 hurdles (46.11), the runner-up in the 300. The young hurdler broke through at states, winning a 3A gold medal with another personal best in the 300 (45.73).

Camille Nesmith, River Hill, sophom*ore

Nesmith won the triple jump title at counties (37-3 1/2) with a personal record distance. She then finished as the runner-up at regionals with a new personal best (37-09). The sophom*ore concluded her season with a bronze medal in the triple jump at states.

Howard County 2024 girls outdoor track and field All-County: Oakland Mills senior Shania Staats named Athlete of the Year (3)

Sydney Rhodes, Howard, junior

Rhodes dominated in the sprints and was a pivotal member of the Lions 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams. She won all four events at counties and regionals, winning the 100 in 12.29 and the 200 in 24.72. The junior maintained her success at regionals, highlighted by a 12.12 personal record in the 100.

Claire Sivitz, Howard, freshman

Sivitz emerged as one of Howard County’s top distance runners. She showcased great versatility with a trio of top-four finishes in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at counties and regionals, headlined by runner-up finishes in the 200. The freshman concluded her first states, placing sixth in the two-mile and eighth in the mile.

Aniyah Toppin, Long Reach, senior

At counties, Toppin was the runner-up in the 200 (25.04), long jump (18-05 1/4) and finished third in the 100. At regionals, she the long jump runner-up and placed third in the 200 and triple jump. The senior earned a 3A state silver medal in both the triple and long jump (37-09 1/4) with a personal record in the long jump.

Howard County 2024 girls outdoor track and field All-County: Oakland Mills senior Shania Staats named Athlete of the Year (4)

Lauren Virmani, River Hill, sophom*ore

Lauren ran on the 4×800 relay team that won county, region and 3A state titles. She won the 3,200 at counties (10:52.67) and regionals. The sophom*ore finished third in the 800 at counties and regionals. The runner-up in the mile at both counties and regionals, Virmani concluded the season with a bronze medal in the mile and a new personal record in the 800 (2:15.55).

Marella Virmani, River Hill, sophom*ore, distance/relays

Marella shined in the 800 (2:14.21) and 1,600 (5:03.18) at counties, winning both events with personal record times. She maintained that success at regionals, with a gold medal in the mile (4:58.19) and a runner-up finish in the 800. The sophom*ore concluded her season placing fourth in the mile and states and running on the gold medal 4×800 relay team.

Avery Voeltner, Centennial, senior, pole vault

Voeltner won the Howard County pole vault title (11-03) and also won the event at regionals (11-00). She concluded her career by setting a new personal record at states (11-06) and earning a silver medal.

Katherine Wood, Atholton, senior, shot put/discus

Wood won county and regional titles in both discus and shot put, dominating in both events. The veteran concluded her decorated career at states with top-seven finishes in both discus and shot put, highlighted by a new personal record in discus (103-05).

All-County second team

Ciara Amon-Nicholls, Long Reach, senior, high jump

Jaidyn Augustine, Marriotts Ridge, sophom*ore, sprints/hurdles

Ava Carr, Howard, freshman, hurdles/jumps

Addison Courtemanche, Howard, junior, discus

Kendall Hall, Long Reach, sophom*ore, mid-distance

Julia Irvin, Howard, sophom*ore, hurdles/relays

Meion Logins, Hammond, senior, jumps

Caroline McCaffrey, Mt. Hebron, senior, distance

Nikita Mohan, River Hill, freshman, distance/relays

Frankie Moore, Oakland Mills, senior, distance

Gauri Nair, Mt. Hebron, senior, distance

Cecelia Rosenberg, Oakland Mills, sophom*ore, pole vault

Jeriah Shipp, Oakland Mills, sophom*ore, shot put

Leilani Stewart, Long Reach, freshman, sprints

Dakota West, Howard, senior, mid-distance/relays

Howard County 2024 girls outdoor track and field All-County: Oakland Mills senior Shania Staats named Athlete of the Year (2024)

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