The Northwest girls came up four points shy of winning the 2012 outdoor state title and Coach Dave Knight confirmed that he will be moving his family to Texas for a job opportunity in the next few weeks.
The Northwest girls teams from 2011 and 2012 were arguably the most outstanding girls high school track teams in Montgomery County history. Through the leadership of Beth Muehl and with the help of Dave and Lexi Knight, the 2011 Northwest girls team became the first Montgomery County girls team to ever win a 4A state outdoor track title. With Muehl retired from coaching and now the departure of the Knight family, the Northwest program and Titans summer program which was created by the Knights will have to be carried on by somebody else.
Camry Torian and Kennedy Knight combined for 20 points in the 100m and 200m. India Knight, Tiara Wellman, Naomi Sheppard, and Gaby Go combined for 10 points in the 400m and 800m. Northwest has become known for its blazing relay times, and despite running season bests in the 4x100 (48.08), 4x200 (1:39.43), and 4x800 (9:20.44), coach Dave Knight couldn't help but second-guess himself and wonder if Northwest could have scored enough points to win the team title if he had spread one or two more athletes to the open events.
Bowie High School scored 74 points while Northwest scored 70. In third place was Wootton with 55 points.
The Wootton girls knew they needed to be flawless to keep pace with Northwest and Bowie. A botched handoff in the 4x200 and a troublesome day in the triple jump by Casey Dowling set the team back on day 1 to the point that winning the team title seemed out of reach, but all of the Wootton girls came back on the final day of competition to finish their seasons with monster PR's...especially Dowling.
Dowling explained that the "springy" runway surface at Morgan State threw her off. During the triple jump competition, she overstepped the board on three consecutive attempts. She made adjustments and moved her mark back for the long jump on the final day. In the first three jumps, she nailed a 10 inch PR of 18-10. It was the best mark by a Montgomery County athlete since atleast the year 2000. She also hit another 18-footer in the finals. She took second place to Duval's Mobolaji Adeokun who jumped 19-06.
"I loved the surface when I figured it out."
She also noted that she was happy overall with the triple jump this year because she just picked it up and was able to win the 4A West Region title with a personal best mark of 36-09.75.
If you asked Gwen Shaw last year, she would have told you that she never imagined she would be a 400-meter state champion. That idea was first planted early this outdoor season when she began splitting 55 and 56 on the 4x400 relay and clocked 55.97h in a dual meet. Still with limited experience in the open 400m, she and her coaches decided after the county meet to go after the 400 at regionals and states. As a result, she is the region and state champ in the 400m with a personal best time of 55.19, the fastest time of the last decade by a Montgomery County girl not named Olivia.
The race itself was a grueling one in the heat of late May. Multiple times Shaw could be seen looking down and digging deep until she crossed the line. She said following the race that she felt really good about the race and the PR.
Sylvia Deppen clocked 44.3h and 44.5h in the 300-meter hurdles earlier this season, but with automatic timing she had not been under 45 seconds. Her region-winning time was just 45.49 which she said was frustrating because she wanted to keep PR'ing.
The state 300-meter hurdle race was the perfect race for a PR. Deppen knew she would be chasing Old Mill's Alexis Franklin. Franklin, who already had three performances on the all-time state top ten list, dazzled the crowd with a new state record time of 41.31. Deppen was 2.5 seconds back in second place but later said she was fine with second place knowing how well Franklin was running. Her time of 43.81 puts her just 0.15 seconds behind Churchill's Audrey Gariepy-Bogui on Mocorunning's "since 2000" leaderboard.
The day fittingly ended with a 4x400-meter showdown between Wootton and Northwest and neither team made it easy for the other. CH Flowers was very much in the race for the first two legs. Flowers and Northwest were together entering the third leg while Wootton had a two second deficit off the lead. Deppen closed on Flowers in the first 200m and caught Northwest with 100m to go. Deppen opened a very small lead for Wootton entering the final leg. Northwest's Tiara Wellman didn't hesitate to regain the lead from Wootton's Gwen Shaw. Shaw waited and retook the lead with 200m to go. Wellman fought back and refused to let Shaw get away, but the 400-meter state champ fought off her opponent to take the win in 3:53.06.
Churchill's Lucy Srour had the fastest county 1600-meter time of the day. She ran behind Severna Park's Ashley Hayes for three laps before Hayes took off with an incredible kick and won in 5:00.42. Srour finished second in a personal best time of 5:10.14 and said that she thought Hayes had an amazing race.
Hayes did not have the same kick in the open 800m. BCC's Brittney Wade led from wire-to-wire. She ran 64 seconds for the first 400-meters and continuously increased the gap on the field over the second half to finish in 2:13.88. Overall she was happy with the win and her second state title as a junior but wanted a faster time.
Wade had the perfect race following Hayes at the Viking Invitational in April, but has had trouble recreating that fast time of 2:12.26.
"I thrive off competition. I really want that competition to push me to fast times."
A couple final notes on the MoCo girls at states...
QO's Catherine Panasenkov jumped a personal best ten feet in the pole vault which matches the best by a MoCo girl in the past decade. She placed third.
Churchill had three girls in the finals of the long jump. All three girls jumped personal bests of over 17 feet including Taylor Caulk who jumped 17-10.50. Freshman Julia McDermott jumped 17-04.50 (with a 4.4 wind-aid) and sophomore Fanny Chen jumped 17-06. Has any MoCo team ever had three girls jump over 17 feet on the same day? It seems unlikely, but further research is required.
Northwood's Yamundow Sarr had many injuries throughout her high school career, but she finished with a 4th place PR of 57.56 in the 3A 400m. Teammate Shaneil Thomas, just a sophomore, finished the season with PR's if 15.68 and 46.31 in the hurdle races.
Another big PR in the hurdles came from Clarksburg's Noella Anyangwe who finished third in the 300-meter hurdles in 45.96. Anyangwe told MoCorunning this week that she will compete for the University of Maryland next year.
Chelsie Pennello recorded a personal best time of 5:12.21 in the 1600m. It is the third best time in Montgomery County this year and the fastest time by a Montgomery County sophomore since at least 2006.
Einstein's Anna Ucheomumu, who qualified for four events, was the runner up in the 3A triple jump with a mark of 36-01.25. She was fourth in the discus in 116-06 and ninth in the shot put with a mark of 32-11.00. Coincidentally, she was also ninth with the exact same mark in the shot put at the indoor state championship.
Seneca Valley's Virginia Owusu-Mainoo threw a season-best county-leading mark of 121-08 in the discus to finish second. She was about a foot short of her 2011 3A state-winning mark of 122-05.