After Howard County's performance in the 2A state meet on Monday, when Glenelg's Blake Richardson was the lone winner, just a pair of gold medals on Tuesday by the 3A schools would have been considered an improvement.
As it turns out, the big schools overshot that mark on Tuesday at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex, winning six individual events, and placing 14 more in the top three.
"Howard County was definitely a big force in this meet," said Wilde Lake junior Tim Virostek, who won both the 800 and 1,600. "We had a lot of individual winners, which was really cool."
Virostek's performance helped the Wildecats place fourth out of 29 teams, best out of all county schools.
"I'm very happy with how today worked out, it's a dream come true," said Virostek, whose highwater mark at last year's state meet was a sixth place finish in the 1,600.
Wilde Lake was only 7.5 points behind team champion Thomas Johnson, and only two points ahead of sixth place Reservoir. County champion Mt. Hebron (7th) and Howard (9th) also finished top ten in the team race.
While Virostek cruised to first in the 800 with relative ease, outpacing the runner-up — Reservoir's Timmy Usher — by more than two seconds, his win in the 1,600 was one of the most exciting races of the meet.
"I was in third most of the race, just hanging onto those guys and that's what I wanted to do," said Virostek, who was the cross country Runner of the Year. "On the last lap I decided to just kick it and see what happens."
Using a furious kick, Virostek passed Linganore's Patrick Duboyce down the final stretch and held on to win by just four one-hundreths of a second.
At the county championships one month ago, Virostek led the mile with less than a lap to go but River Hill freshman Chris Heydrick surprised him on the final stretch to steal the gold.
"That definitely helped me out at regions more than states, because at states I knew I was going to have lots of competition," said Virostek, who avenged the loss to Heydrick at the regional meet. "I was just hoping to hang onto these guys and out kick them."
Reservoir's Usher dueled with another Howard County runner in the 500.
He and Mt. Hebron's Nate Gainey separated from the pack toward the end of that race, and engaged in a mad dash for the finish line.
"Him and I kind of pace off of each other in the 500. He actually beat me in countys and then I came back and we had a good race in regionals (with Usher winning by .20)," he said. "I kind of knew that I was just going against him in this race."
Usher said that he and Gainey have developed an unpsoken strategy for the 500.
"We come off the break in second and third and we kind of coast off of whoever is in first ... and then once we get to the straightaway for one more lap, we just turn it on, kick it and give it all we've got."
Usher's older brother, Joey, plays football and basketball at Reservoir. Timmy plays soccer in the fall and lacrosse in the spring, but says that this year, he plans to run outdoor track instead.
"Indoor track is going really well for me, so I just figured why not keep running?" he said.
Virostek and Usher's wins highlighted Howard County's dominance of the middle distance and distance events on Tuesday. River Hill's Erick Soetje, Centennial's Josh Poole and Reservoir's Michael Motta went 2-3-4 in the 300; Mt. Hebron's Karl Schmidt and Hammond's Cole Rosenberg finished close behind Virostek and Usher in the 800, taking third and fifth; and twin brothers Duncan and Henry Enerson of Wilde Lake finished second and fifth in the 3,200.