Running in the slower heat, Glenelg's Blake Richardson realized the odds were stacked against him. Yet as the Gladiator senior stepped to the starting line for the 500-meter run at the 2A State championships Monday, he kept telling himself to just focus on what he could control.
"Coming off regionals where I didn't do as well, I just needed to come out here and run," Richardson said. "Usually you can run off the guys around you, but in the slow heat you're running for time. All I could do was post something and then wait and see."
With a personal-record time of 1 minute, 7.67 seconds, beating his seed time by nearly five seconds, Richardson did in fact set the bar high for the six guys running after him. Then he stood back and watched as the time stood up, giving him his first indoor state title.
Between the boys and girls events at the 2A state meet, Richardson ended up being the only county individual or team member to post a winning effort.
In the team competitions, the Oakland Mills girls (fifth with 28 points) and the Long Reach boys (10th with 21) were the top county schools. Liberty won the girls competition with a total of 80 and Frederick Douglass-PG was the boys winner with 56.
For full results see high school wrap-up.
Even before the 500 at the PG Sports and Learning Complex Monday, Richardson had turned heads. In the 300, also running in a slow heat, he had finished third with a time of 36.47.
So when it came time to run the 500, Richardson wasn't counting himself out. And as the race wore on, his confidence only grew.
"Right before the last curve, I knew I had a shot (at breaking 1:08) so I just kicked it into another gear and kept going," Richardson said.
Richardson ended up .32 of a second ahead of Lansdowne senior Yelnats Calvin.
While there were no other county winners, there were two runner-up showings for Long Reach on its way to tenth place.
Purcell Freeman, with a time of 7.75 seconds took second in the 55 hurdles.
"Over the first three hurdles I was winning, but I came up on that fourth hurdle kind of fast and had to back off a little bit," Freeman said. "That's when (Douglass' Kyle Smith) passed me and I couldn't quite catch up."
Freeman was also part of the Lightning 4x200 relay that placed second.
Oakland Mills' top individual finish came from Sam Andrews, who placed third in the 3,200 with a time of 9:51.73.
On the girls side, Tiffany Lang had a hand in a large portion of Oakland Mills' scoring. She started things off by helping the Scorpions 4x800 relay finish fourth, then put together her best race of the day in the 1,600.
While Winters Mill's Hannah Oneda ran away with the title in a 2A state record time of 5:04.66, Lang stuck to her race plan and cruised to a solid second-place time of 5:24.88.
"I knew I was running for second and there were a lot of girls that were going to be really close," Lang said. "I tried to stay at the front of that (next) pack and as the race went on I felt good so I kind of pushed it out a little bit more."
The only bad news was that, toward the end of that 1,600-meter race, Lang started having trouble with shin splints.
She fought through the pain for the last four laps to finish second, but while later running the 3,200 it became unbearable. Roughly half way through the two-mile race, she had to pull out.
"I kind of looked at my dad and he just told me to come off because it wasn't worth it," she said. "The pain was just a little too much."
Pain and all, though, she came back at the end of the day to place third in the 800 with a time of 2:25.96.
No other county girls' individual or relay team finished better than fourth in any of the 13 events.