The first day of the state meet is about setting the tone the right way, which Coach Muehl believes the Northwest girls did well.
"Everybody is feeding off each other."
The Northwest girls executed flawlessly to set up the final day of the state meet in the best position possible.
Olivia Ekpone breezed through the prelims of the 100 and 200 and Northwest took victories in the 4x800 and 4x200 relays. The 4x200 relay was won by a full second in 1:41.00 without Ekpone. Sheridan Allen, Britt Eckerstrom, India Knight, and Camry Torian combined for the title.
Muehl revealed that Ekpone will run on the 4x400 relay along with India Knight, Britt Eckerstrom, and Tiara Wellman - the same squad that smashed the county meet record (3:49.48). The state meet record is 3:47.48. This could be especially exciting if the meet comes down to the wire between Northwest and Old Mill High School which has run 3:55.
It is "so far so good" for Kennedy's Thea LaFond who is attempting to win four state titles this weekend. On her very first attempt she had a personal best triple jump of 41-08, which would eventually win the competition. It was the second best mark in state meet history. She knew she needed to nail one of those early events before running the hurdles which tire the legs. It was not her best hurdle race (14.83), but she will have rested legs for the very first event tomorrow morning.
Churchill's Taylor Caulk claimed the 4A triple jump state title. Drama unfolded on the fifth attempt as WJ's Laura Dally took the lead over Serenah Polite with a jump 35-11. Polite immediately regained the lead with a jump of 36-01. Caulk, who led the field after the preliminary jumps, said that she was very nervous but waited for a breeze and nailed a 3-foot PR of 37-09. The wind reading of 1.4 was legal. Polite, who was last year's 4A champ, held on to second place.
Caulk has improved in all of her events this year with noticeably increased speed and a long jump PR of 17-02, but Coach Dave Warren said all they did this past week in practice was triple jump. They did not work on sprinting, long jumping, or anything else. They worked on extending the middle phase of the jump and Caulk hit 35 feet numerous times in practice which she said boosted her confidence.
Anna Bosse was the indoor 3200 state champion and a former cross country state champion, but it may not be a stretch to say that her victory here today was a surprise and an upset. Bosse struggled through shin pain at the end of the indoor season and her doctor recommended three full weeks of no running. As soon as she returned to training, she was involved in a car accident which caused pain in her back for several more weeks. She ran through the back pain but was lacking fitness by the time the championship meets rolled around. She was not competitive at the county or state meet where Whitman's Anna Ryba ran out front all alone. The state meet would be different as Bosse hung with Ryba through the first mile and then made a decisive move to take a commanding lead on the fifth lap. She created a 12 second lead over the final four laps to win in 11:14.36.
Northwest's Chris Miller said that he was so glad his coach kept him out of the 4x800 relay because the competition in the 3200 was tough. At the end of the fifth lap after pulling away from the rest of the field, Eleanor Roosevelt Justin Ahalt and Annapolis's Shane O'Donnell overtook Miller at the same time as if they had coordinated the move.
When asked if he was surprised or worried about the move, Miller said, "I was running too hard to worry."
He ran his final mile with lap splits of 73, 72, 71 and 64 (4:40). Nobody had an answer for the 64 second last lap. Miller won by four seconds in 9:18.55.
The 3A Boys 3200 was perhaps the most exciting race of the day with more lead changes than you can count. A tight pack of six runners came through the first 1600 in 4:47. With just two laps to go, finally someone made a move. QO's Conor Spaulding was the first to go and the pack immediately strung out. Linganore's Braden Bruning and Patrick Duboyce had matching surges. Never did anyone hold the lead for more than a few seconds in the final 500 meters. Ultimately Braden's final quarter in 61 seconds earned the victory in 9:30.15. Clarksburg Will Bertrand, who was another one of the six members of the tight pack, outkicked Spaulding 9:31.50 to 9:31.76. It was the fastest 3200-meter run by a sophomore in the Mocorunning database (since 2006).
After a 600-meter time trial earlier in the week, the Richard Montgomery boys knew that David Hamilton was due for a big race. Hamilton blew his teammates away with a time of 1:20. They made no secret that they were making an attempt at the state meet record of 7:44.67.
Zach Angel handed off the baton in second place after a 2:00 split. Hamilton quickly created a large lead on the field with a 54 second first quarter. He would split 1:56 to put the race away. Running all alone in the heat, Jacob Cantor split 2:01 and Sam Martin brought it home in 1:55 for an overall time of 7:52.54, the fifth best time in state meet history.
Despite not getting the record, Martin said, "We did what we came out to do."
Quince Orchard boys had a battle in the 3A 4x800 which came down to the final stretch, but ultimately they settled for second place.
A tight pack of five was bunched up after a 2:01 split from Evan Laratta. Spaulding gained a slim lead and Evan Burnham clung onto the slim lead. On the anchor leg, Reservoir moved into the lead. QO's Drew Lehner had to fight hard to regain the lead, but he was outkicked in the final straight away, 8:02.00 to 8:03.17.