During the mad rush for the inside track at the beginning of the 800 at the 3A state championships Feb. 19, Wilde Lake's top-seeded Tim Virostek was swarmed by a throng of eager runners and jostled into the metal barrier marking the inside boundary of the track.
As it turns out, it takes much more than that to slow Virostek down.
The Wildecats senior, who had already won the 1,600 in 4:21.45, just a tenth of a second off of the 3A state record set by Howard's Joey Thompson in 2008, stormed through the crowd to take a lead that he would not relinquish, eventually winning in 1:57.43, which is one of the ten fastest times ever run at the state meet.
Check High school wrap-up for complete results of the state meet, which was held at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex.
The bumpy start "really didn't affect me that much. I thought that they were going to restart the race actually, but I didn't slow down thinking that. They definitely squeezed down on me and the guy elbowed me over the rail and there was nothing I really could do there," said Virostek, who also won the 800 and 1,600 state indoor titles as a junior. "This race was different because I ran a negative split. I went out really fast and tried to hold on, which is different from my usual strategy which is to give it all that I have at the end over the last two laps."
Virostek was forced into that strategy in the 1,600, when Hereford's Jon Luckin (2nd) and Linganore's Patrick DuBoyce (3rd) each made a furious attempt to pass him during the last few laps.
"I was trying to run a really fast time today and those guys came up and pushed me a lot, so that helped," he said. "I was feeling pretty strong ... I think I can definitely go faster, but I was very happy with my race today."
Along with Wilde Lake's fourth place finish in the 4x400 relay — on which he ran the second leg — Virostek played a part in all 25 of his team's points, for eighth place.
Led by Nate Gainey's gold medal in the 500 and runner-up finish in the 300, Mt. Hebron finished in third place with 44 points, just five behind team champion Digital Harbor.
"Unfortunately my shoe was untied from the start (of the 500) but the end result was just amazing," said Gainey. "I don't know if it was untied before or after. I noticed it right away so I just had to be a little more cautious.
"This is my first state championship individually. I was injured during outdoor last year, so it's just really nice to come back and get this opportunity."
The Vikings also won the 4x800 relay (Andy DeLaitsch, Karl Schmidt, Alec Vaughan, June Kim), edging Reservoir by one second.
Howard's Josh Peoples, who won the 55 dash and anchored the state championship 4x200 relay team — along with Zack Black, Justin Marsh and Mark Bundy — helped the Lions finish fourth with 35 points.
Peoples said that he was shooting for a time of 6.4 and won the race in 6.47.
"Once I got my start down I knew that would help me win the race ... I just kept training. My grandma told me to train hard so I kept true to my word," said Peoples, who placed fifth at last year's state meet. "Practice makes perfect."
And Howard senior Christine London was the story of the girls meet, winning her signature event, the 55 hurdles, in a personal best time of 7.98, the third fastest time ever run at the state meet.
"Since I didn't (qualify) in the 300 because I got pushed (at regionals) my legs were a lot more relaxed ... I just felt very fresh and very loose and able to run really well," said London, who has now won five state hurdles titles between indoor and outdoor. "I really wanted to break eight (seconds). I finally got to do it and that was my goal and my dream and I'm really happy about it. It was a PR by a lot. I just focused a lot more on speed in between the hurdles and snapping my trail leg down so I can get one step in between."
Howard County's only other winner was River Hill sophomore Allison Krein, who won the 3,200 in 11:28.02, five seconds ahead of Centennial's Shreya Nalubola.
"I just tried to run my own race, and when my coach was giving me splits I tried to stick with them, and just went on pace," said Krein, who fell during the 1,600 and finished eighth. "I've had the goal to win a state title for awhile."
Atholton, which got second place finishes from Rebekah Markovitz (500) and Natalie Alper (high jump), finished best among Howard County teams, taking fourth with 32 points.