Glenelg's Julia Nardone didn't get off to the greatest start when the gun sounded to begin the 1,600-meter race. Another runner cut in front of the Gladiator sophomore as she fell to the back of the pack.
By the end of that first lap, however, Nardone had made up the ground and worked her way into pole position.
She never lost that early lead, in fact, she increased it with each trip around the track to capture gold at the Class 2A state indoor track championship meet at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex Monday afternoon.
"This is only the second mile I've run during indoor season," said Nardone, who finished in 5 minutes, 9 seconds. "My start wasn't the best. I kind of got boxed in a little bit but I think I used up a bit of my energy to get out in front at the start, which could have been a mistake. … Everything about that race I'm happy about."
But Nardone's memorable day wasn't over quite yet.
Entering the 3,200-meter race, Nardone had the fifth-best qualifying time but that didn't seem to matter much. She ran in the middle of the pack for the first few laps before turning it on over the final 800 meters to win in 11:19 for her second state title of the day.
"It feels great to represent the county and represent Glenelg," Nardone said. "I really didn't think I would win this race. At first I didn't even think I would be running any races during indoor (season) and it's amazing to say that I won the 1,600 and the 3,200."
Nardone was the only county runner — male or female in 2A — to win an individual gold medal. The Long Reach boys 4x200-meter relay team of Tosin Oyewole, Robert Carter, Eric Thomas and Brian Crandell edged Lackey by six-tenths of a second to earn the lone team gold of the meet.
"I thought we ran pretty well," said Crandell, who was the anchor leg. "I just had to make sure I picked up my knees and kept going. We knew this whole season that we could do this but we had to come out and prove it."
Long Reach finished second overall in the boys team competition, falling to Century, 84-45. Marriotts Ridge and Oakland Mills were tied for 18th and Glenelg was 29th. Glenelg and Long Reach were the top county girls teams, tying for sixth place with 29 points. For more results see High School Wrap-Up.
The Lightning's runner-up finish was aided by second-place efforts by Crandell in the 55-meter dash (6.62 seconds), Carter in the 55 hurdles (7.68) and Oyewole in the 300 (35.75).
Oyewole won the first of two heats in the 300 after sitting in third place at the halfway point of the race. He used a late kick to pull away from the competition. After checking the official results board, he pumped his fist and waited to see if anyone could best his mark.
"I think I could have gotten out better. I kind of slipped at the beginning but I recovered," said Oyewole, who ran a personal best and was just .66 seconds off the first place time. "I gave it my all the last 55 (meters). This is a special moment for me because I finally get a state medal."
On the girls side, Long Reach sophomore Taylor Selber earned second place in the 55 hurdles. Selber was disappointed with a seventh place performance in the high jump but erased that memory with a personal best of 8.48 seconds.
"I am so happy," said Selber, who had tears of joy rolling down her face. "I was thinking since I was seeded fourth that I was going to get fourth place but I got second. That's amazing."
Michelle Vanagas of Long Reach took third in the 1,600 behind Nardone and Owings Mills' Alyssa Taylor in 5 minutes, 27 seconds.
No other county individual or relay teams finished better than fourth in any of the 13 events.