The Bullis girls scored 200 points to win their sixth consecutive ISL title and remain undefeated in outdoor track league championships since 2014. Highlights included a 19-09.25 long jump and 13.97 100-meter hurdles performance by Lauryn Harris and a meet record 3:44.85 4x400 relay. Bullis was without star athlete Leah Phillips who was out with shin splints according to head coach, Joe Lee.
It was calm, overcast, and 65 degrees at the Holton-Arms school track stadium. The first round of Saturday field events was contested early in the morning before track events were scheduled to begin. Bullis's Lauryn Harris did not need to stress about track events and she did not need to think about her opponents. She had already won the competition by her sixth attempt. Staring down the runway for the final time at the ISL Championship Meet, Harris shed her worries and took off.
"I knew that after hearing the last jump called for Aniella [Delafosse] that I already secured the gold," said Harris. "And so, I just had a lot less pressure on me and I think I do better when I am more focused on just having fun."
She described herself as a "warm runner" who improves as the competition moves along. She seemingly got better with every jump until, with her mind at ease, she recorded a mark of 19-09.25, an All-Time Montgomery County outdoor track & field record in addition to an ISL Championship Meet record.
"That definitely sounds great," said Harris when told about the Montgomery County record "I'm just looking to jump even farther and push my teammates to jump farther too."
All the jumping taxed her legs and she did not reach her goal in the 100-meter hurdles. Her time of 13.97 was #2 in meet history behind Masai Russell's 13.84 in 2018, but she said that she was hoping for 13.5.
Said Harris, "That's my goal for the end of this season so I thought that would be nice to get it here, but I definitely was pretty happy with my time because of all of the jumps that I had on my legs. I had been jumping six times and I just wanted to get out here and push my teammate Ashley and my teammate Jordyn and just make sure that we all ran well."
Bullis was going to go easy on the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, but when they ran an unofficial meet record 48.8 with substitutes in the 4x1, they were disqualified for using "invalid runners." So Bullis used the original runners entered to run the 4x4, which was the bomb squad: Lauryn Harris, Sierra Leonard, Shaniya Hall, and Nia Frederick. The result was more than five seconds off the old meet record (3:44.85). It was likely the fastest high school girls 4x4 ever run within Montgomery County's borders.
Holton-Arms School finished second in the ISL team standings, which is the most any school could hope for ever since Bullis's emergence in 2014. Holton was led by Francesca Cetta who pulled off the distance triple on Saturday and anchored her 4x800 relay team to third place on Friday.
"It was mostly to help our team do as well as we could," said Cetta, "because it's a team sport so I wanted to help the team as much as I could."
The ISL championship meet inserts breaks in between events so that the meet does not move too quickly, but it is still a pretty compact schedule. The 1600, 800, and 3200 are contested within about three hours, and yes, the 3200 comes after the 800. The distance triple at the ISL Championship is brutal.
"Our strategy for getting through the day with the three distance events was to win them with the minimal effort possible," said Coach Meredith Valmon. "The key was energy management throughout the day and energy management in the final race."
How did Cetta manage the time between races?
"I had a protein snack and I propped my legs up and just tried to relax as much as possible," said Cetta shortly after winning the 3200 in a near-school-record time of 11:27.57.
Cetta's first Saturday event was probably her best event, the 1600. She won in 5:11.80 with what appeared to be a comfortable effort.
Her greatest challenge came soon after in the 800 where she barely edged out Episcopal's Alli Boehm, 2:19.35 to 2:19.38. It was not the first time that Cetta and Boehm collided in an 800-meter race and she said that this time around she was ready for the big kick.
Said Cetta, "I didn't know it was that close until I saw her in my side view, but I used my soccer skills to try to box her out."
The 3200 was a sit-and-kick performance and she clearly had plenty of energy on the final lap. Coach Valmon was slightly disappointed in herself because she didn't turn her runner loose sooner to get the school record of 11:24, but Cetta wasn't worried about it.
"I have another year," she said.
Said Valmon, "She's trained well and we knew her training prepared her to attempt the triple."
Other Montgomery County highlights included: St. Andrew's Sam Beesley won the MAC 3200 in 9:59.80, Bullis put two girls under 45 in the 300-meter hurdles, Nia Frederick and Mikaela Lyons in 44.83, and Shaniya Hall and Sierra Leonard clocked 55.59 and 55.60 behind the new meet record holder, Ziyah Holman (53.48) in the 400m. Bullis athletes also won the 100 (Sarah Walbrook), high jump (Alexis Emery), triple jump (Ashley Wallace), shot put (Trinity Franklin) and 4x800.