Wilde Lake senior Tim Virostek had one final chance to accomplish his most coveted goal on the track — winning an outdoor state championship.
After finishing a close second in the 1,600-meter run at the Class 3A state championship meet earlier in the day, Virostek had another opportunity in the 800 — an event in which he had gone undefeated in the postseason.
"I was definitely disappointed in (the 1,600) because I was so close but I was very happy with the race," Virostek said. "Going into the final 200 is right when I got passed. I was trying to make my move but (Hereford's) Jon Luckin had a great kick and passed me."
"I just knew that I had to get myself psyched for the 800," he added.
Any disappointment from the earlier race didn't show on Virostek's face when he was preparing for the 800 meters. He confidently stepped to the line, charged through a strong wind and pulled away over the final 50 meters to capture gold with a time of 1:55.18.
"I just had to clear my mind," Virostek said. "I went into it confident but I knew that I had to run a smart race with the wind. It's a two-lap race so you only get one move. I timed my move really well and I think that I ran a perfect race."
There were several other county runners who had outstanding performances at the state championship meet — making it hard to narrow down just one to be named this year's Columbia Flier/Howard County Times boys outdoor track Athlete of the Year.
But when the final gun sounded on the season, Virostek's body of work was unmatched. His postseason included sweeps in the 800 and 1,600 at the county championship, a title in 800 at the Class 3A East regional and gold at states.
No other boys runner won an individual event at the county meet, regionals and states.
Atholton jumper Jordan Palmer swept the triple jump at all three meets.
"The competition was much higher (than in indoor) and I was very happy that I was able to finish off my season with an outdoor state championship," Virostek said.
During the winter, Virostek dominated the 500- and 800-meter runs and collected a pair of state titles in the events with relative ease. He knew that outdoor would be even tougher.
"Coming off a really good indoor season, I wanted a great outdoor season," Virostek said. "I knew that I would have to work really hard to do it but it was my last season in high school. I had to push really hard and go all out."
Virostek got off to a strong start this spring. At the first event of the season — the Pikesville Track Classic — he set the tone by running personal bests in the 800 (1:53.72) and 1,600 (4:19.33).
The culmination of senior year was memorable for Virostek, but the beginning was quite forgettable. In the fall, he entered cross country as the reigning county champion and Runner of the Year.
At the Howard County Invitational in early September, Virostek suffered a setback. Well on his way to victory, he fell coming down the final hill with about 150 meters to go. He couldn't finish the race and his cross country season never got back on track.
"I had big hopes for cross country after having a good junior season," Virostek said. "I felt like I was in great shape, especially in that first race. I was running a best time by 20 or 30 seconds on the Centennial course; then I just collapsed. It was definitely a mental block after that and I wasn't able to push myself."
But Virostek didn't allow that setback to carry over into indoor season.
He picked things up in the winter, earning county, regional and state gold medals to bring his indoor total to four in three different events (500, 800, 1,600).
"I just had to be more confident in track than I was in cross country," Virostek said.
His momentum carried into the spring and the coveted gold in outdoor was achieved.
Virostek has a busy summer ahead of him. He'll spend two weeks in Kenya on a mission trip before working as a lifeguard and interning at an engineering firm in Baltimore.
With so much going on, he doesn't exactly have time to train. So he plans to put his running career on hold while pursuing a major in engineering at North Carolina State University this fall.
If he never runs another step competitively at the collegiate level, he knows that his high school career ended on the right foot.
"It's hard to realize that I'm not coming back to school next year and I won't be running for Wilde Lake anymore," Virostek said. "I really wanted to win an outdoor state championship for the first time and I'm really happy that I was able to do that."
Named to the all-county team are:
Robert Carter, Long Reach junior
Events: 110- and 300-meter hurdles
Postseason highlights: Finished first in the 110 (15.42) and 300 (40.39) at the county championship meet. Won the 110 (14.92) and 300 (39.50) at the 2A South regional. Placed second in the 110 (14.32) and third in the 300 (40.60) at the 2A state meet.
Brenden Chavis, Mt. Hebron junior
Events: Shot put and discus
Postseason highlights: Won the shot put (43-7) and discus (142-5) at the county championship meet. Finished first in the discus (137-5) and third in the shot put (46-4) at the 3A East regional. Placed fifth in the shot put (48-11) at the 3A state meet.
Nate Gainey, Mt. Hebron senior
Events: 200- and 400-meter dashes
Postseason highlights: Placed second in the 400 (49.16) and seventh in the 200 (24.50) at the county championship meet. Won the 400 (49.00) and was second in the 200 (22.47) at the 3A East regional. Finished first in the 200 (21.90) and second in the 400 (49.76) at the 3A state meet.
Devon Groves, Wilde Lake junior
Event: High jump
Postseason highlights: Won the high jump with a leap of 6-0 at the county championships and then finished sixth at the 3A East regional meet with a jump of 5-9.
Andrew Humm, Mt. Hebron sophomore
Events: 300-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump
Postseason highlights: Finished first in the long jump (20-8) and third in the 300 hurdles (43.44) at the county championship meet. Placed third in the 300 hurdles (41.90) and in the long jump (21-1.25), and sixth in the triple jump (38-11.50) at the 3A East Regional.
Kyle Kroll, Reservoir junior
Event: Pole vault
Postseason highlights: Won the pole vault (12-0) at the county championship meet and at the 3A East regional with a vault of 12-4. Was seventh in the pole vault (11-6) at the 3A state meet.
Justin Marsh, Howard junior
Events: 100- and 400-meter dashes
Postseason highlights: Finished first in the 400 at the county championship meet with a time of 49.03 seconds. Placed fourth in the 400 (50.00) and fifth in the 100 (11.48) at the 3A East regional meet. Was third in the 400 at the 3A state meet in a time of 50.01.
Tosin Oyewole, Long Reach junior
Events: 100- and 200-meter dashes
Postseason highlights: Placed second in the 100 (11.52) and 200 (22.64) at the county meet. Won the 200 (22.03) and finished second in the 100 (11.14) at the 2A South regional meet. Won the 100 at the state meet with the fastest time of 10.73. Also was second in the 200 (21.67) at states.
Jordan Palmer, Atholton senior
Events: Long and triple jumps
Postseason highlights: Won the triple jump (45-8), while also placing fifth in the long jump (19-2) at the county championships. Finished first in the triple jump at the 3A East regional meet (45-4.50) and at the 3A state meet (46.8-50).
Josh Peoples, Howard senior
Events: 100- and 200-meter dashes
Postseason highlights: Doubled at the county championship meet with wins in the 100 (11.40) and 200 (22.64). Also finished first in the 100 (11.05) and 200 (21.99) at the 3A East Regional. Placed third in the 100 at the 3A state meet with a time of 11.14.
Josh Poole, Centennial senior
Events: 200- and 400-meter dashes
Postseason highlights: Finished third in the 400 (49.28) and fourth in the 200 (23.69) at the county championships. Placed second in the 400 (49.10) and fourth in the 200 (21.99) at the 3A East regional meet. At the 3A state championship, won the 400 (49.50) and was third in the 200 (22.22).
Daniel Rau, Howard senior
Events: 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs
Postseason highlights: Won the 3,200 (9:33.70) and was second in the 1,600 (4:30.18) at the county championships. Placed second in the 3,200 (9:38.50) and third in the 1,600 (4:24.11) at the 3A East regional. Finished second in the 3,200 (9:18.11) and sixth in the 1,600 (4:25.26) at the 3A state meet.