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Girls Indoor County Recap
By: Kevin Milsted

Montgomery County athletes and coaches have been to hell and back and it had little to do with yesterday's Montgomery County Indoor Track Championships. A little bit of unexpected snowfall during a normal weekday rush hour crippled the entire DC metro area to historic proportions, and as the county meet let out in Landover at about 7:00, major highways and side streets were so jammed that there was nowhere for anybody to go. Stories of stalled vehicles and buses started popping up on social media and ultimately some folks didn't get home until after 3:00 AM. For a commute that normally takes most of MoCo less than one hour, the average travel time yesterday might have been four or five hours according to information gathered from multiple coaches. (Photo courtesy of WCHSXCTrack Twitter account)

I hate to make the story about traffic, but that unforgettable traffic event is all anyone is talking about the next day. Let us acknowledge yesterday's horrible post-meet experience and turn the conversation back to the track, shall we?

Northwest High School put together dominating team performances to sweep the boys and girls team titles. It was just the third time in 29 years that a school has swept boys and girls team titles at the indoor county championship (Paint Branch 1993, Gaithersburg 2002). The Northwest boys were heavily favored to win and delivered with a meet record 140 points, 90 more than second place Blake. The Northwest girls took down the two-time defending champion Clarksburg girls 118 to 93. 118 points is the second most by a girls team in meet history and highest point total since 1987.

The Northwest girls have now won four out of the last six indoor county titles which sounds like the continuation of a dominant era for the Jaguar girls, but it probably has not felt that way to most of the girls on the team. Senior Leondra Correia is the only remaining contributor from the last indoor county title winning team from 2013, and head coach Robert Youngblood knew that they needed a total team effort to return to the top after Clarksburg reigned supreme at the county meet the previous two indoor seasons.

"They sacrificed the whole season and everybody gave a little bit more," said Youngblood of his girls team.

Youngblood offered long jump county champion Leondra Correia as an example: "Leondra...she was normally in our 4x2. She said 'I'll do the 4x4 leadoff.' And we moved her sister into the 4x2 and the 4x2 ran a great time, and then she led us in the 4x4. All the girls just put it out there and they support each other the whole time. And the guys were the biggest supporters of the girls and wanted to see them win this thing."

That 4x200 race, which was won by Northwest in a #2 all-time meet performance of 1:45.24, was a symbolic performance carrying all the excitement worthy of representing the team rivalry between Northwest and Clarksburg (1:46.07, #4 all-time). Likewise the field events were the stage for the primary battleground between Northwest and Clarksburg, and Northwest came away with the advantage in the long, triple, and high jumps.

"We knew long, triple, and high we got some great jumpers," said Youngblood. "I used my wildcards on field events so we scored majorly in all three: long, triple, and high. We scored no less than 14 in any of those three."

While upperclassmen Correia and Stephanie Bateky piled up points in field events, Northwest may not have won the meet if not for a youth movement and the addition of two special freshmen, Taylor Wright and Cori Brown. Wright won the 55m dash (7.15) and triple jump (38-09.50, #2 all-time) with top ten all-time meet performances while Brown won the 300m in 40.86, scored points in the 55m, and contributed to relays.

"They're like really good friends," explained Youngblood of the two freshmen. "They push each other in practice and they fit right in with the rest of our girls. They don't think they are any better than anybody else. They just keep pushing and the other girls see the effort that they're putting in. You saw them in the 300 pushing each other up the straightaway."

Clarksburg's point total of 93 points is nothing to sneeze at and would have won 22 out of the last 29 indoor county meets. Clarksburg's Justina Ababio won the shot put with a mark of 37-10.50. If not for her older sister's performances in 2013 and 2014, 37-10.50 would be the third best mark in meet history and best since 1998. Senior Alexus Pyles, in the mind of this writer, cemented herself as Montgomery County's all-time greatest indoor track & field performer.

Feeling the pressure during a jump off, Pyles delivered on a clutch 5-03 high jump to secure her first county title of the day. She later smashed the meet record in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.02, which was 0.19 seconds faster than the previous meet record held by Gwen Shaw (Wootton Class of 2013) and 0.01 seconds off Audrey Gariepy-Bogui's (Churchill Class of 2008) all-time Montgomery County record from any meet. In doing so, she accumulated her tenth individual indoor county title which surpassed Thea LaFond's (JFK Class of 2011) record 9 individual indoor titles. Minutes later, Pyles finished second in the 55 meter dash in 7.35 which is the second fastest time in the county this year.

(In another obscure parallel between Pyles and Gariepy-Bogui, both athletes were long jump county champions and bypassed the long jump competition at the county championship in their senior years to take second place in the 55 meter dash. Consistently following the paths and drawing comparisons with Gariepy-Bogui, LaFond, and Shaw probably means you are doing something right. For what it's worth, the outdoor county championship medal count of recent history (not all-time) is as follows: Pyles-3, Shaw-5, Gariepy-Bogui-6, LaFond-8.)

The oldest girls indoor county meet record is now erased. Nobody batted an eye when Walter Johnson's Sally Glynn set the 3200m county meet record of 11:07.5 in 1995. Also that winter, Glynn won the Millrose Games mile in 4:52.50 and qualified for US junior women's world cross country team which competed in England. The 11:07 3200m was like nothing compared to Glynn's other accomplishments, yet, twenty years' worth of excellent Montgomery County distance runners could not take down that record despite a few athletes recording faster marks throughout the indoor season.

This year was different with three girls having already recorded sub- 11:10 3200's prior to the meet and all three girls bypassing the 1600m for an all-out assault on the 3200 meter meet record. Einstein's Ciciely Davy and Paint Branch's Bethlehem Taye set the pace and raced side-by-side for three quarters of the race, all the while on record-breaking pace. Walter Johnson's Abigail Green hung back a few meters, but when Davy fell off Taye's pace in the final half mile, Green moved up. All three girls finished strong with Taye smashing the meet record by 13 seconds in 10:53.70, Green taking second in 10:58.78, and Davy also under the previous meet record in 11:06.06.

With those three girls focusing on the 3200, WJ's Emily Murphy was the lone standout in the 1600 meter race which she won by 8 seconds over B-CC's Zoe Nuechterlein. Running alone out front did not seem to adversely affect Murphy. She recorded a time of 5:10.77, the fourth fastest performance in meet history and fastest since 2008.

Nuechterlein and teammates pulled off perhaps the biggest girls upset of the meet by taking down the WJ girls in the 4x8 with a final turn sprint to the finish. Analise Schmidt's kick and 2:24 split highlighted the 9:42.21 performance which was #6 all-time in meet history and best ever by a B-CC team at the county meet (a surprising statistic given B-CC's strong history in that particular event) . B-CC's previous season best was 10:06.81.

Watkins Mill's Alyssa Rishell was the only individual double county champion aside from Clarksburg's Alexus Pyles. Rishell won the 500m in 1:19.61 and the 800m in 2:24.89.

See Boys County Recap


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