After winning two Class 3A state championships last indoor season in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, it could have been tempting for Wilde Lake's Tim Virostek to feel content. But instead of becoming comfortable, Virostek stayed motivated and trained even harder for his senior season.
In every race this winter, Virostek was ahead of the pack, pushing for personal best times.
For his perfect winter — which included two regional championships (800 and 1,600) and two county titles (500 and 800) — Virostek has been named the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times boys indoor track athlete of the year.
"This year was much harder for me because I was at the front the entire time, so it was more of me pushing myself knowing that I had to get faster times to keep winning," Virostek said. "Even if the guys aren't right there next to me, I didn't want anyone sneaking up."
Virostek knows a thing or two about surprising the competition. In last year's state meet, he caught the leader in the closing meters for a come-from-behind victory in the 1,600 by just four one-hundredths of a second.
He made sure that no one would be able to pull a fast one on him.
"Over the last couple of years, I had been running from behind and that's what I was used to," Virostek said. "So I know exactly where those guys are coming from. You want to take the leader on the last turn and that's where I really pushed myself."
Virostek pushed to an undefeated season where he successfully defended his 800 and 1,600 titles at the 3A state meet with personal best times.
"Tim is one of those special kids," Wilde Lake coach Whitty Bass said. "With his ability of speed and endurance, he certainly could have slacked off but he gets it. He's willing to work at his abilities instead of relying on them."
Virostek changed his mindset and race plans to become comfortable being the one to beat.
"We wanted to expand Tim's repertoire of strategies," Bass said. "We practiced some with him leading the race, which he's done well obviously. He's very relaxed running from the front and his range isn't something he just has — he works at it."
Virostek certainly does own a unique skill set. Last year's Runner of the Year in both cross country and indoor track, the Wildecat senior is well versed in the 800 through 3,200 and even the 3.1 miles that come with cross country.
But this winter, he wanted to add another race to his list of expertise. Before the Hoco Intra-County Meet in December, Virostek approached coach Bass about trying his hand at 500 meters.
Having only run the middle distance event once before, Virostek posted a time of 1:05.66 — good enough for first place and fifth fastest in the country at the time.
"I was stunned at the thought of a miler stepping down to the 500," Bass said. "I told him that he has a great shot at the prized 1,600 event but he really wanted to try it. It's his senior year, so I said I could get behind it."
Virostek was the only multiple-event winner among the boys at the county championship meet, taking home titles in the 500 (1:05.87) and 800 (1:58.39), respectively.
Knowing that it would be nearly impossible to compete in the 500 along with his two signature events because of how close the races are scheduled, Virostek turned his focus back to the 1,600 for regionals and states.
"I also run the 4x400, which is my favorite team event, so it wasn't possible to run all three races," Virostek said. "I really wish the events were more spaced out, so I went back to what I knew. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't make a run at all three."
At the 3A East regional meet, Virostek won the 800 by more than two seconds (2:03.02) and after not running the 1,600 competitively for a few weeks, he posted a time of 4 minutes, 38 seconds for a six-second victory.
He did even better at the state championship meet in February, nearly breaking two records.
After stumbling a bit at the start of the 800, Virostek defended his title with a personal best time of 1:57.43 — one of the 10 fastest times in state meet history. Earlier, in the mile run, his time of 4:21.45 was just a tenth of a second off the state meet record.
"Last year I wasn't expected to win states. I was one of the top runners in the county but nobody expected me to necessarily win," Virostek said. "So going out and winning both of those races last year really set me up big for this year. I was expected to go for it and I'm happy that I was able to win both again."
Named to the all-county first team are:
Olumide Akinbinu, Reservoir
Event: High and long jumps
Postseason highlights: Won the high jump (5-06) and placed third in the long jump (19-06.50) at the county championship meet. Finished second in high jump (5-09) in 3A East and ninth at 3A state meet (5-06).
Zack Black, Howard
Events: 55 dash and 300-meter run
Postseason highlights: Won the 55 (6.62) and was fourth in the 300 (36.91) at the county championship. Finished first in the 55 (6.8) and fifth in the 300 (39.3) at 3A East regional meet.
Robert Carter, Long Reach
Event: 55 hurdles
Postseason highlights: Won the 55 hurdles (8.02) at the county championship meet and at the 2A Central regional meet in 8.20. Finished second in the 55 hurdles (7.68) at 2A state meet.
Jeffrey Chavis, Mt. Hebron
Event: Shot put
Postseason highlights: Won the shot put (33-05.75) at the county meet. Won the shot put (47-06.75) at 3A East regionals. Finished fourth at 3A state meet (48-05.25).
Brian Crandell, Long Reach
Event: 55 dash
Postseason highlights: Finished third in 55 at the county championship meet. Won the 55 (6.85) at 2A Central meet, before placing second in 55 (6.62) at 2A state meet.
Nate Gainey, Mt. Hebron
Events: 300- and 500-meter runs
Postseason highlights: Finished second in the 500 (1:06.08) and third in 300 (36.38) at county championship meet. Won the 300 (37.63) and was second in the 500 (1:10.14) at the 3A East regional meet. Won the 500 (1:06.66) and placed second in the 300 (35.16) at the state meet.
Chris Heydrick, River Hill
Events: 800- and 1,600-meter runs
Postseason highlights: Finished first in the 1,600 (4:37.24) and fourth in the 800 (2:05.41) at the county championship meet. Placed second in the 1,600 (4:44.31) and fifth in the 800 (2:08.82) at the 3A East regional, before finishing fourth in the 1,600 at the 3A state meet with a time of 4:30.08.
Eric Higgins, Reservoir
Event: Pole vault
Postseason highlights: Placed first in the pole vault (11-06) at 3A East and fourth at 3A state meet (12-00).
Chelby Ofosu-Safori, Oakland Mills
Event: High jump
Postseason highlights: Posted best height in high jump at county championship meet but was disqualified for uniform violation. Won high jump (5-6) at 2A Central regional meet before finishing eighth in the high jump at states (5-08).
Jordan Palmer, Atholton
Events: Long and triple jumps
Postseason highlights: Won the triple jump (43-09.50) and placed second in the long jump (19-10.75) at the county championship meet.
Josh Peoples, Howard
Events: 55 dash and 300-meter run
Postseason highlights: Finished first in the 300 (35.70) and fourth in the 55 (6.68) at the county championship meet. Placed second in the 55 (6.81) and sixth in the 300 (39.35) at the 3A East regional meet, before winning the 55 at the 3A state meet with a 6.47 time.
Danny Rau, Howard
Events: 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs
Postseason highlights: Won the 3,200 (9:53.83) and placed fourth in the 1,600 (4:40.2) at the county championship meet. Finished first in the 3,200 (10:05.40) and fifth in the 1,600 (4:45.19) at 3A East regional meet. Placed third in the 3,200 (9:37.62) at the 3A state meet.
Evan Rector, Reservoir
Events: Pole vault and triple jump
Postseason highlights: Finished first in the pole vault (11-00) and fourth in triple jump (39-06.50) at county championship. Placed second in the pole vault (10-04) at the 3A East regional and ninth at states (11-00).
Gibrill Sheriff, Reservoir
Events: Long jump and 55 dash
Postseason highlights: Finished first in the long jump (20-01.75) and seventh in the 55 (6.79) at the county meet. Placed sixth in 55 (6.9) at the 3A East meet.