Howard senior Christine London has made a career out of jumping over obstacles. Her tenure as a hurdler for the Howard track teams has been almost as notable for her great successes — nine county titles and five state championships — as it has been for a few high profile stumbles.
As a sophomore in 2011 at the outdoor state championships at Morgan State, London fell during the 100 hurdles, but came back to win the 300 hurdles a short time later.
"I was third coming into the straightaway, but I just pushed hard and I was able to beat (two) Towson girls to the end," said London, the Howard County Times and Columbia Flier girls indoor track Athlete of the Year. "That was my first state championship win and that was the most memorable."
And London's most recent state championship, the indoor 55 hurdles, was similar to her first in that it came after a fall.
At this year's regional championships, London had the fastest seed time in the 300, an event she had won at the Ivan Walker Howard County championship meet in 41.69 seconds.
If she ran that same time at the regional meet, London would have won the event by almost two seconds.
But during the race, London was shoved by another runner, fell to the track, and finished dead last, more than 20 seconds behind the next runner. The runner who pushed London was disqualified, but London lost her chance to compete at states in the 300.
But instead of pouting, London made the best of the situation, winning a state championship in her signature event — the 55 hurdles — in a personal best time of 7.98 seconds, which was the third fastest time ever run at the state meet.
"My legs were a lot more relaxed, so I was able to run a better time," London said. "Usually I have to do the 300, so my legs are a little bit fatigued, but I was just very fresh and very loose and able to run really well.
"It was exactly what I wanted it to be. I really wanted to break 8, I finally got to do it and that was my goal and my dream and I'm really happy about it."
London's coach, Tyler Wade, said that her performance at the county championships, when she won the 55 dash, the 300 and the 55 hurdles to lead the Lions to the team title, was one of the best he's seen.
"I've been coaching for two years, but I could coach for a long time and not coach another person like Christine," Wade said.
At that meet, London also ran on a silver medal winning relay team. She could have run on Howard's strong 4x200 team, and won a fourth county gold medal, but decided to sacrifice for the team.
"Christine is normally on (the 4x200), but we talked about it and said if we can sacrifice for more points, she was all about it. She said 'anything for the team'. That just shows you the type of kid she is," Wade said. "She's been really talented since her freshman year, and she's got a really bright future ahead of her."
London recently committed to Virginia Tech, where she plans to run track and study physical therapy.
This spring she will attempt to defend her two outdoor hurdles state titles.
Also named to the all-county girls indoor track team:
Natalie Alper, Atholton
Events: high jump, 500
Postseason highlights: Senior defended her regional title in the high jump with a leap of 5-feet. Also finished second at the county meet and state meet, where she cleared a season-best mark of 5-2. Also anchored a county championship winning 4x400 relay team and led off the silver medal winning 4x800 team.