The Cougar Relays boys' mile had the makings of a perfect race. It was not too hot or too cold. The air was calm. Most of Maryland's finest distance runners were entered in the race with Penn Relays on their minds. Will Conway and Josh Ellis would ensure that the pace was fast, knowing very well that Linganore's Braden Bruning and Patrick Duboyce were threats to win also.
Wootton's Joshua Trzeciak was not thinking about the Penn Relays mile. He had only raced the mile four or five times in his high school career including time trials. He didn't have a time goal in mind, but he knew that he wanted to compete and he did not want to lose to anyone. He hates losing.
Trzeciak wanted to race with Conway and Ellis and try to kick past them with 600-meters to go, but the race did not at all work out like he planned. He got to the starting line a little late. He began the race from the second row and fell to near the back of the pack early in the first lap.
Conway, Ellis, Bruning, Duboyce, and QO's Evan Laratta immediately moved to the front. Conway led the pack through the first 400m in about 62 seconds.
By the beginning of the second lap, Trzeciak caught the tail end of the lead pack. By the end of that lap, he passed everyone but Conway who had opened a gap on the field with a 64 second 2nd lap. Trzeciak's second lap was also in 64.
Conway's pace continued to slow on the third lap while Trzeciak's quickened. Trzeciak closed down Conway's lead just as Conway seemed to glide to the outside of lane one. Trzeciak powered by Conway on the inside of lane one. It was a 63 second third lap for Trzeciak: his fastest lap of the race.
Trzeciak built a jaw-dropping lead on the two-time 1600-meter state champ over the next 200-meters. He powered home for a meet record time of 4:18.8, a personal best by…27 seconds?
It would appear from the outside that Trzeciak pulled a "Jessie Rubin." In 2009, Rubin trained through the indoor track season instead of competing for the team. She won her first race of the spring season with a fifteen second PR and one of the fastest MoCo girls 3200-meter times of the decade (11:03).
But Trzeciak did not train through the indoor season. He sat out the indoor season to heal an Achilles tendonitis injury which he ran through during cross country. He did not start running until the final week in February, and of course he eased back into training slowly.
And yet his first two dual meets yielded three victories in three different events: 51s 400m, 1:58 800m, 4:45 1600m.
Trzeciak's only explanation for the rapid improvement after taking a season off is that he is healthy and he hates to lose.
"I wanted to go undefeated all season. I thought, 'Why can't I do that?'"
Trzeciak was not thinking about qualifying for the Penn Relays mile individually, but Wootton did want to aim for its best possible time to try to qualify for Penn Relays in the distance medley relay. They would rely on Trzeciak and teammate James Ertel to bounce back quickly from the mile.
It was a three team race from the beginning. QO's Evan Burnham led all competitors with a 1200-meter split of 3:15. Good Counsel worked its way into the lead after the 400m and 800m legs. Wootton was never far behind, but Trzeciak had his work cut out for him when he received the baton two seconds behind QO's Evan Laratta and four seconds behind Good Counsel's Jack Riely.
Trzeciak did not play around. He closed the gap and moved into first place with a 2:06 first 800m. He closed in 2:15 but was able to hold off his opponents to win the race in a new school record time of 10:36.1. His split was 4:21.
Good Counsel, who placed second in the DMR in 10:38.4, won the 4x800 earlier in the meet with a county-leading time of 8:04.9. Sophomore Collin Crilly anchored the squad with a 2:00 split.
The Northwest boys won the 4x200 relay and set county best times in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays. They barely missed meet records in both events.
Elad Covaliu of Walter Johnson clocked 38.9 in the 300-meter hurdles. He smashed the previous meet record of 39.8 but placed second behind Thomas Stone's Rakeem Jones. Covaliu's 300-meter hurdle time was the fastest by a Montgomery County athlete since Joey Robinson clocked 38.52 in 2005.