The first event of this middle-of-the-season track meet was the slow heat of the boys 4xmile. And amidst the unusual events and the unusual order of events which characterize Georgetown Prep coach Greg Dunston’s track meets, I learned something: it is not all too uncommon for elite runners to end up in the slow heat. Gaithersburg essentially led the entire time until anchor Kyle Gaffney received the baton. Gaffney rolled through the entire relay, passing bunches of runners (albeit JV runners) on each lap. By the end of the third lap he had made up a 200-or-so meter lead that anchor Mike Limongelli of Gaithersburg had over him. Gaffney ended up gapping Limongelli and split around a 4:33, which was easily the fastest time of that heat and close to the fastest time out of both the slow and the fast heats.
The next highlight was the 4x8. The Churchill girls won the 4x8 with Erin McManus at anchor. The boys’ 4x8 was won by Gaithersburg in an official time of 8:12. Good Counsel gave Gaithersburg a run for their money; however, anchor Pat Vaughan had a deficit to make up and could only stick with anchor Antonio Palmer for 700 meters before he died off the pace. Paul Riggio led off the Trojans in a 1:59, tying his PR. His height allowed him to duck under the elbows laid out by the two runners next to him and get a solid start in first. Next, he handed off to Sam Boimov who split a PR of 2:02, Mickey Stepek split a 2:08, and Antonio Palmer split a 2:01. Good luck to the Gaithersburg 4x8 on getting into Penn Relays! Also, Evan Whetsell of Churchill ran an amazing leadoff leg in 1:58, edging out Riggio. Later in the day, Whetsell would run a leadoff 51 high in the 4x4 and his relay squad would win that section of the 4x4.
Richard Montgomery had a difficult time in the 4x2. Their third leg had a difficult time handing off the baton to anchor Brendan Etzel and he faced a small deficit. However, this proved to not be a problem for all as he was able to anchor his squad for the win in a relatively nonchalant fashion. Richard Montgomery’s overall time was 1:31. The guys would later follow up with a victory in the 4x1 and win the 4x4 by a very large margin since Patrick Pinchinat got the ball rolling 200 meters into his leadoff leg. Their squad ran right around 44-low. On the girls’ side, Richard Montgomery also won in large part due to seniors Ashley and Ashlyn Decruise.
The next highlight was the Distance Medley Relay and a meet record was almost set. The Winston Churchill girls were having a very nice day. In addition to the 4x8, their girls also won the fast heat of the DMR in a time of around 12:45 with Louise Hannallah running a tough 1600 anchor leg. The boys’ side was very intense. Later in the meet, it will be indubitable that the three anchor legs that were running with each other for the win were extremely fatigued. Sam Boimov of Gaithersburg started his 1600 first. Very soon after, Mat Abernethy of Georgetown Prep received the baton about 20 meters back of Boimov. Then, as if the running gods were just trying to setup a perfect race, Chris Moen of Walter Johnson receives his baton with a pretty decent deficit to make up. Abernethy had no problem catching up to Boimov and those two were running side-by-side. Moen went out extremely fast in order to catch Boimov and Abernethy. He did in the first 50 meters of the third lap but not without running a 61 second first 400 and a 2:06 first 800. Moen chose to draft off of Abernethy and Boimov until it was time for him to make his move. Soon, Boimov dropped off the pace and that set up a showdown between Abernethy and Moen. With about 100 meters to go, Moen surged and began to cruise down the final straightaway (this time with his baton held securely). However it almost appeared that he made his move too early as Abernethy nearly caught Moen with about 20 meters left. Moen held on in a 4:23, going 2:06-2:17. Jared Schneider led off that relay in a 3:16. Asger Klocker ran a 53-high 400, Bryson Harris split a 2:10, then Moen 4:23 as Walter Johnson ran around 10:43 overall. It is important to note that on that 1200 leg, Ramsey Chapin of Georgetown Prep split around a 3:15 to edge out Jared Schneider. Chapin is only a sophomore.
The slow heat of the DMR once again featured Kyle Gaffney of Blake. And once again, Gaffney had an enormous deficit to make up. However, one man can only do so much. Blake still finished in a very respectable second place. RM was third and Middletown won.
The running gods decided to give the fans a break from the excitement. The girls’ sprint medley was a runaway. Walter Johnson anchor Stephanie Anchor, at one point, had a 100 meter lead over the rest of the field. The boys’ side, however, was much closer. There were two sections run. Officially, Richard Montgomery ran 3:39.73 in the second section. However, that did not match Gaithersburg’s 3:39.49 in the first section. That relay was already Antonio Palmer’s third 800 meter race of the day.
Everybody was gunning for Quince Orchard in the 4xmile. Without fail, QO ran away with it from the start. Josh Joson ran an 800 meter negative split going out in 2:26 (75, 71) and finishing in around a 4:35. Somehow though, he had long-ago begun gapping Walter Johnson leadoff Jared Schneider. While Schneider was finishing, Alex Rosenberg of QO was off and running. Schneider handed off to Brian Graves who, despite recent injury, ran a PR of 4:48 and kept distance with Rosenberg. Then, Neal Darmody of QO split around a 4:35 and put another 110 meters-or-so on Walter Johnson runner Anthony Popiel. Now, Chris Moen was anchoring for Walter Johnson and QO anchor Reagan Lynch already had over 200 meters on him. Considering Reagan Lynch has already split 4:25 for the season, Moen settled behind Gaithersburg anchor Vikas Bhatia. Moen’s conspicuous smile at the end of his 75 second first lap evidenced his plans for his anchor leg; Bhatia however, made a strong effort at an incredible upset. Moen and Bhatia were running side-by-side throughout the entire relay. With around 100 meters to go, Bhatia passed Moen only to get re-passed by Moen. Moen split 4:48 and Bhatia split a PR of 4:52. Lynch finished in around a 4:32. Sherwood finished in 4th place: Chris Barnard was all alone due to the fact that he was able to hold off an early surge by Good Counsel’s Ian Mcdermott.
Everybody’s favorite event was up next: the steeplechase. Ashlyn Sinclair of Blair looked like a professional relative to the rest of her field. Well, she isn’t a professional steeplechaser (everybody’s dream) quite yet, but she is an All-American. And Sinclair won by a very large margin, going quickly over each steeple without a problem. She was also able to resist the large crowd gathered by the steeple which encouraged a repeat of last year’s episode full of tricks over the steeple. On the guys’ side, Greg Conte of QO and Russell Speiden of Sherwood dueled throughout. For the large part, Churchill coach Dave Warren was right up in the lead pack with Speiden and Conte. Warren hung up there for as long as he could but he fell off the pace which allowed Speiden and Conte to duel. It came down to a kick with around 80 meters left and Conte’s kick was far too hard to handle for Speiden who finished in a very respectable second place. At the start of their kicks, it was clear Conte had a lot more left in him than Speiden. Dave Warren also found himself trying to kick and he appeared to edge out the fourth-place steeplechaser. It was very, very close and the runner who got third place was very hard to determine. The only negative was that many of the participants did not know the course. This was clearest when Warren cut in to the steeple too early and did not go around the cone. This drew a pack of runners following Warren and then they had to go back around the cone. Whether this was part of Warren’s strategy or not, it is clear that sometimes the coaches can be just as clueless as the runners!
On the field-side of the story, Sean Stanley of Gaithersburg blew everybody else away in the shot. And, the hurdles were highlighted by Gaithersburg who dominated their heat of the 110 meter hurdles led by sophomore Donovan Mahone.
Team-wise, right from the start, the Gaithersburg boys had the entire meet wrapped up. Churchill girls also continued their undefeated season, taking down all the local competition as well as one of the top teams from the Baltimore area, Seton Keough.