Slips, stumbles, and falls seemed to be the story of day one of the 4A West Regional Championship Meet. After a heavy downpour that delayed the meet by over an hour, jumpers had difficulty gripping the runway, throwers stumbled in the throwing circle, and several runners fell hard on the track. When the 800-meter relay was complete and the sun was a faint red glow in the western sky, some athletes' dreams had come true while others found their seasons ending sooner than they ever imagined.
Each thrower stepped out of the mud and into the slick circle and cautiously threw their first shot. I would guess that there were not many PR's on the first throw since most of the top throwers started out with throws in the low 40's. Onlookers watched as Sean Stanley of Gaithersburg slipped and nearly fell out of the circles on his first throw. He laughed off that first throw of 39 feet and recomposed himself for the next several throws. Most of his throws following the first were in excess of 50 feet, the best being 52-07.75. This was about 2 feet off of his PR but easily won the regional title. He is hopeful that he will be ready to win a state title this week. Kevin Nesmith of QO, along with Alex Payton and Steffan Lazerou of Richard Montgomery also qualified for states.
Jacquelyn Adcock of Damascus appeared frustrated in the circle as well. With each throw, she would give off some signal that she wasn't getting it quiet right. Nonetheless, she was the only athlete who threw over 100 feet in the discus with her best throw of 114-feet 2-inches. She will be one of the top throwers in a field of girls who throw in the 120's at the state meet.
High jumpers were also affected by the rain. Slick conditions caused only 6 competitors to clear opening height. Damascus's Jamal Currica was the only competitor to clear 6 feet with a jump of 6-foot 1-inch. Currica had no problem gripping the runway in the long jump. He had a massive jump of 22-feet ¼ inch, which is the county best. Also one of the top sprinters in the region and a selfless team player, he helped his 800 and 1600-meter relay teams qualify for states in times of 1:30.72 and 3:26.00.
Richard Montgomery qualified their usual suspects in the sprints on day one. Both the boys and girls loaded up on qualifiers in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. The boys and girls teams also ended the day with victories in the 800-meter relay.
Not all sprinters had as much luck as Richard Montgomery. In the cool wet evening air, a WJ runner pulled up short, unable to finish the 800-meter relay for his team. The Gaithersburg 800-meter relay girls had a spill in their 2nd exchange and were disqualified for falling into another team's lane. It was a missed opportunity for a team that surely would have qualified for states with clean handoffs. Churchill's Katie Wolf lost her chance to run the 100-meter dash at the state championship this year when her arms locked up and she fell at the starting line as the gun was about to go off. She was charged with a false start, but she would later qualify for finals in the 200-meter dash.
The girls 3200-meter relay was the all-too-familiar scene of Churchill stretching out a mid-race lead only to be hunted down by Whitman's Leslie Morrison and passed on the final lap. Both Churchill and Whitman, along with Northwest, Magruder, and Quince Orchard will have their shot at Eleanor Roosevelt and the rest of the state next week at states.
Quince Orchard again proved to have the superior 2nd and 3rd legs in the boys 3200-meter relay. Neal Darmody and David Laratta created a gap that was impossible to make up for any of the chasing teams. Despite very strong closes by Chris Boyd of Wootton, Antonio Palmer of Gaithersburg, and Wil Zahorodny of Damascus, nobody could catch up to Reagan Lynch of QO who closes under two minutes on a consistent basis. In addition to QO, Wootton, Gaithersburg, and Damascus, Northwest, Whitman, and Churchill qualified for states based on time.
Halsey Sinclair pushed the girls 3200 from the start. 1200 meters into the race, Cara Harrison, Louise Hannallah and Becca Stinner began to pull her in. It appeared that Sinclair was going to pay for her hard start, but she resurged and pushed the pace until her competitors began to drop one by one. By the final lap, she had a commanding lead and killer kick to finish the race in 11:02. With another race like that, she will be one of the favorites to win the state title this week.
The boys 3200-meter race started out slow with Neal Darmody of QO leading the pack through 400 meters in about 78 seconds. The pace steadily quickened, but several runners hung on for the first mile. The pack really began to thin out after 1600 meters and it soon became a two person race, with Whitman's Will Palmer drafting off Darmody. With two laps to go, Palmer took over and distanced himself from Darmody. It was a move that Darmody could not answer. Palmer won in 11:41 with Darmody 2nd in 11:44. Alex Rosenberg of QO and Andrew Palmer of Whitman also qualified.
On the second day, the sun was peeking through the clouds which dried up most of the circles and runways. The air was cool and the atmosphere was perfect for some competitive track and field.
The day began with the hurdle and sprint finals. The county champions Audrey Gariepy-Bogui and Tyler Jackson of Richard Montgomery repeated victories in the high hurdles. Ashley Decruise once again outclassed the field in the 100-meter dash and Patrick Pinchinat redeemed his false start from the county meet and won the regional 100 meter title.
In the 1600 meter run, Morgane Gay of Whitman immediately distanced herself from the other runners and never looked back. Even with a very strong field that pushed 10 girls under 5:15, Gay still proved that she is in a league of her own by winning the race in 4:55 over Halsey Sinclair in 5:06. Eight other girls will help flood the 1600-meter run at the state meet on Saturday.
Without Sherwood, Blake, B-CC, or Chris Moen in the race, the 4a West 1600 was the most unpredictable 1600 all season. The field did feature the Palmer brothers along with QO duo Reagan Lynch and Neal Darmody and Wootton's Chris Boyd all trying to prove that Elias Tousley isn't the only person who can run a mile around here. Boyd played his cards perfectly by racing in the front pack for the majority of the race and kicking hard down the homestretch for the victory. His time of 4:23.38 is a county best this year by fractions of a second. He along with 5 other 4a west runners will take on Matthew Centrowitz of Broadneck at states this week.
After some uniform discrepancies, the Richard Montgomery boys fared well in the discus. Walter Leslie won the event with a throw of 144-feet and 4-inches. His teammate Alex Payton also qualified along with Gaithersburg's Sean Stanley and Zach Thompson of QO.
While the boys' discus was going on, Brittany Moreland from Northwest was doing her usual thing in the shot put. She won the event with a throw of 38-feet and 1-inch. Although that is not her best throw, she won by almost five feet and will be one of the top few competitors at the state meet this week. Jacquelyn Adcock, Brianna Fulton, and Teresa Gaines also qualified for states.
While some RM boys were throwing the disc, others were winning the 200-meter dash. Patrick Pinchinat earned a double victory by adding a 200-meter regional title to his resume. He finished in 22.27 with teammate Brendan Etzel one step behind in 22.38.
The boys and girls 400-meter races unfolded similarly. In very evenly matched fields, 3 or 4 runners remained side-by-side coming off the final turn. In the girls race it was Churchill's Katie Wolf who emerged ahead of Gaithersburg's Alyssa Jewell and Whitman's Leslie Morrison. Wolf also won the 200-meter dash and remains undefeated against county competition in both events. She is expected to fare well in her first trip to the state championship meet. In the boys race, it was Damascus's Wil Zahorodny who edged out the likes of Jon Ryan from RM, Louis Varella from Blair, and Chris Onuigbo from Northwest. Zahorodny would later play a huge role in helping his 1600-meter relay team qualify for states.
I'm not sure if the girls' 800-meter race went out slow or what, but after one lap of the race, the pack looked the same as when they started. Leslie Morrison took control on the second lap and pushed the pace until the pack finally began to spread out. Her teammate Morgane Gay along with the Sinclair sisters hung on close until the final sprint. The final 50 meters became a battle between the two Whitman teammates with Morrison winning the race over Gay 2:15.38 to 2:15.47. Both will challenge Tasha Stanley of Eleanor Roosevelt at the state championship.
Unlike the girls' race, the boys' 800-meter run began to spread out almost immediately. Gaithersburg's Antonio Palmer jumped out to a lead and forced the rest of the field to chase after him. Several runners attempted to catch Palmer, but only WJ's Chris Moen accomplished the task, winning in 1:55.84 over Palmer's 1:56.43.
The Gaithersburg boys' 400-meter relay team upset Richard Montgomery, edging them out 43.22 to 43.38. There were no surprises in the girls 400-meter relay. Richard Montgomery won in 48.28, three seconds faster than 2nd place Wootton.
The meet concluded with the Richard Montgomery boys and girls winning one more relay each. They each won by about three seconds over the second place team with the girls running 3:57.32 and the boys running 3:22.75.
So while the 4A West Regional Championship marked the final track meet of the year for many athletes, some athletes are peaking at the right time. Good luck to all the competitors who qualified. See you at states!