The Century boys are being led by a bit of an unusual combination as they try for a second straight Class 2A state title in track and field.
Pole vaulters often concentrate on that one event. Chandler Kennell and Nick Neral are two of the state's top pole vaulters, but they also help the Knights in other ways and were big reasons No. 3 Century led after Thursday's first day of the state meet at Morgan State.
Class 3A and 4A have their first day today, with all four classes coming together to finish Saturday. The Century boys were in first place with 50 points, ahead of Douglass-PG (42.5).
Kennell and Neral again did battle in the pole vault, and both finished at 15 feet — tied with Jason Barnes of Walkersville. Kennell won because he had fewer misses, with Neral finishing second and Barnes third.
Kennell also finished second in the high jump, and Neral ran on the 800-meter relay team that finished fifth in the night's final event.
"They've always wanted to give back to the team," Century coach Tony Griner said. "They've always wanted to do more."
Kennell said he began high jumping indoors, and he and Neral want to do all they can to help out.
"He pushes me and I push him," Kennell said. "We [want] to try and pull as many points as we can out of all events."
Century also came close in the 3,200-meter relay, finishing second when Oakdale edged past at the finish. Oakdale won in 8 minutes, 6.80 seconds while the Knights clocked 8:06.85.
Manchester Valley's girls are in third place after the first day with 30.5 points; Perryville leads with 34.5 and Smithsburg (31) is second in Class 1A.
"We're off to a great start," Manchester Valley coach Eric Baumgardner said. "Saturday is huge, but at the same time you've got to take care of Thursday, and we did it."
The Mavericks easily won the 3,200 relay in 10:07.66. Katie Leisher, Kelsey Henneman, Emily Cheatwood and Nikki Miller combined for the victory.
Susie Badders gave the Mavericks 10 more points with her victory in the triple jump (34 feet, 4.5 inches).
The No. 5 Liberty girls and North Carroll's boys also fared well on the first day. North Carroll was in first place in Class 1A with 28 points after a win in the 3,200 relay and Grant Dell taking second in the 3,200.
Oakdale leads the Class 2A girls with 28 points; Liberty is second with 23.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun