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Montgomery County Championships - A Different Perspective
By: Sharon Foretia

Now while distance talk may prevail on this site, this article is dedicated mainly to the sprints with some few recaps of the distance events. Also, this is a focus on the girl’s side. With apologies, there is limited discussion of field events.

Thursday, May 10th, 2007 proved to be further confirmation of the excellent athleticism and talent within the Montgomery County public school system. On this blazing, treacherous day, with the sun’s scorching rays draining the life out of everyone, those talented athletes demonstrated that the sun’s heat was nothing like the heat they were going to bring to the track. From 4:30 to about 10:30, athletes brought their best to the show-off meet. There were record-dropping times that took athletes to another level. There were upsets that hurt some people in the MocoRunning audience prediction competition. There were victories that could never smell so sweet. But lastly, there was the indication that Moco could do some BIG damage at the state meet against the powerhouses such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Westlake, just to name a few.

According to the MocoRunning poll, 42% of the “general audience” voted for Kathyrn Wolf to win the 100 meter dash. While she ran a very excellent time in both the prelims and finals, 12.27 and 12.13 respectively, it was Ashley DeCruise who stripped her from that title. Decruise, with a quick start and arms moving the speed of a bullet, ran sub-12 FAT in both the prelims and finals, 11.97 and 11.90 respectively, pulling out of the rest of the field for a clear victory. Her time is one of the best 100’s in years and is a big improvement from the winning 100 meter time from last year, 12.78.

Unfortunately, a surprising false start from Patrick Pinchinat halted RM’s attempt in taking a 100-meter double. Apparently, there was some dissent towards the starter, who people thought was holding the starts too long, but nevertheless, nobody false started after that point. Einstein’s Salifu Cham soared to victory, coming into the finals with the fastest qualifying time and leaving the county championship with the fastest FAT time in the county with 10.98. Needless to say, 42% and 48% of the general audience were dismayed with the way things went down. But, that’s track.

As the heat persisted, the meet continued with the 100/110 hurdles. Audrey Gariepy-Bougi didn’t fail to bring the hype as she broke the county record in the prelims, only to break it again in the finals with a time of 14.05. From start to finish, Gariepy-Bougi left the field behind in regular fashion.

On the boys side however, the race was not as clear cut. RM’s Tyler Jackson, who just recently came back from a hamstring injury, and G-burg’s Donnie Mahone, had the closest race of the meet, running the exact same time, 14.86. You could hear the G-burg coach yelling at the top of the hill by the finish line to see the photo finish picture. If he did see the finish, one could only imagine the look on his face to see that Jackson won the race.

Pinchinat made up for his FS in the 100m with an excellent time in the 21.93. Personally, I thought Brendan Etzel, who donned a fresh short cut, would walk everybody down on the straightaway, but no. Pinchinat ran with vengeance as people looked at the clock and then to each other asking, “Did he really just run a 20?” Obviously not, but his time was good enough. Wolf had no trouble winning the 200m, comfortably sailing to the finish line in 25.27 with Alissa Jewell coming from behind to run 25.74.

After coming from a very excellent indoor season in the 4x800, Whitman’s dominance was not as strong as it used to be. Morgane Gay put a hurtin’ on everybody else during her leg, but Churchill was nearby on the second and third leg, even coming in first in the final straightaway before handing off to the anchor. Churchill’s anchor held the lead for almost 200m as Leslie Morrison caught up and ran on her back, but the Morrison pulled away and brought home the victory. For a squad made up of only underclassmen, Whitman still proved to be the best.

My heart dropped at the possibility of RM girls beating the 4x200 record set by Einstein in 1988, but they were just that damn fast. By the second leg there wasn’t any mistake of who was going to win the race (if hand-offs went smoothly). It didn’t make any sense to see a gap so big at the finish line. Clearly, RM was going to stack their relays to go for all records possible, but they came up just a little short, still running an excellent time of 1:42.12 (the record is STILL 1:41.70). However, RM boys did succeed in running a new county record, 1:29.07, with talks about Etzel doing a 20-something split.

Never has the 400m been so deep on the girls side as 11 girls (yes, 11) went under the one minute barrier. Wolf did a repeat of the Viking Invitational, where she beat Leslie Morrison 56.63 to 57.51. Coming off the final turn, almost all the girls in the final heat were side-by side, but Wolf showed her strength and speed and pulled away. There is no mistake who the new emerging county star is. So many runners have improved and Moco will definitely represent in the 400m at the state meet.

Unlike at the Indoor County Championships, where junior Will Zahorodny from Damascus surprisingly won the 500m in a slow heat, at this meet, he convincingly won the 400m, going sub-50 (49.60), to take the title. Louis Varella from Blair also ran an excellent time, 49.94, making it the first time in years that more than one male has gone sub-50.

I have to take a break from the sprints, or else Audrey’s wins wouldn’t be as spectacular. By this time, it was dark and cool, and the girls’ high jump was still going. Rather, Audrey was still going. The crowd watched her attempt 5-8. She cleared. They watched her attempt 5-8.5. She cleared. Then 5-9, which was Toni Aluko’s record. She cleared. But when she attempted 5-9.5 , it seemed like the whole world was watching, as silence took over. I don’t know if it was her second or third attempt, but she missed. Audrey walked back to her mark (which was on the field, might I add.) She did her pre-jump routine with the bending of the knees and the rocking of the feet. She ran towards the bar, jumped over, and hit the mat. And the bar was still up. Audrey threw her hands up, realizing that she cleared 5-9.5. The crowd stood to applaud her accomplishment. I closed my eyes to blink and when I opened them I asked, “Where’d she go?”

The gun is shot and the 300-meter hurdle race begins. After 2 heats, the final section prepares, and my question is answered. In less than 5 minutes, Audrey is in another race. She breaks another record with hit hurdles and poor form, running 44.57. But the height of her athleticism doesn’t end here. She also broke the county record for the triple jump, doing 38-00.00 feet late into the night after heats of hurdles, and numerous flights of jumps (the jumps took so long since only one pit was being used).

Jose Lopez won the 300 hurdles in a decisive victory, 39.70, even with some stuttering towards the hurdles. Donnie Mahone takes another second place finish.

The 800m was rather interesting for both sides. Ashlyn Sinclair put the pressure on Leslie Morrison, and it seemed like Morrison might have another defeat. But with the 800m being her specialty, she didn’t let that happen and pulled away in the final 100m to run a record setting 2:15.99. But kudos to Sinclair for that gutsy run.

Speculation has circulated about Chris Moen and his recent performances but he showed up for the 800m and ran an excellent race. He was much fresher than the rest of the field, but considering his past performances, Moen’s 1:56.81 illustrated that he’s still in the game. The race was close all the way to the finish line; 7 guys went sub-2:00 and the top 5 finishes were below 1:58. This will most certainly be an excellent race for Moco at the state meet, which is in 2 weeks.

The 4x1 was a disappointment for some and sweet victory for others. Neither the RM girls nor boys successfully completed their race due to poor hand-offs, leading to a G-burg victory on both sides. G-burg girls ran an excellent time of 48.88, improving progressively since the beginning of the season and putting G-burg back on the map. While G-Burg boys weren’t able to break the record set by their school back in 2003, they continued the legacy, winning in 43.59. Coming off the turn, Magruder was set to win, but the anchor pulled up and reached for his hamstring, leading to a G-burg double.

The final running event of the meet came at about 10:30 p.m., and by that time everybody was drained and ready to go home. RM girls had already run 3:57 at Penn Relays, so it looked like they could break the county record of 3:59.50, set by Watkins Mill in 2005. But RM fell short yet again, running 4:00.79 for another clear victory. Looks like it might be a while until that record is broken.

As for the guys race, similar to the Penn Relays, RM had an excellent finish by anchor Jon Ryan (however, he maintained the lead the whole time in this race). Varella from Blair and Paint Branch closed the gap by the 200m meter mark but going into the final 150m, Ryan pulled into another gear and no one was going to catch him, leading his team to 3:23.70 victory.

4 points. After 18 events scored, it was 4 points that separated RM from G-Burg. It was 4 points that led to a victory for RM, after most people thought G-burg had it in the bag. This is why I love track. Anything can happen. A false start here, a bad hand-off there, and the race becomes wide open. (This actually applies to all sports). Regardless of who won, on Thursday, May 10th, 2007, Montgomery County illustrated its growth and depth in the sprints, distance, and field events’, showing the rest of the state that Moco has some contenders for state titles in all areas. Oh yeah, Churchill girls won the meet (but really, that was predictable).


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