Alexis Franklin finished fifth in the 400-meter hurdles at the Penn Relays two years ago and took second last spring. But the Old Mill senior took it to another level Thursday in Philadelphia.
Franklin took the lead early and won in 59.05 seconds, beating out Kiah Seymour from Archbishop John Carroll (Wash.) and McDonogh's Autumne Franklin for her first victory at the prestigious track and field event held at Franklin Field.
"This is by far the greatest thing I've ever won, the most important." Alexis Franklin said when reached by phone after the race. "It's my biggest accomplishment."
Franklin, The Sun's Performer of the Year during indoor track this winter, has had plenty of accomplishments at Old Mill, including a total of seven state titles (indoor and outdoor).
At last year's Penn relays she finished the 400 hurdles in 59.07, trailing onlyJamaica'sRistananna Tracey, who set a meet record of 56.17.
But this year's race belonged to Franklin. She got off to a great start, grabbed the lead by the first hurdle and remained in front. Seymour finished in 59.78, getting past Autumne Franklin (59.94) right before the finish line.
"[Alexis] got off to a good start," Autumne Franklin (no relation) said by phone. "I didn't get out to a good start, and it affected me the rest of the race."
Alexis Franklin was seeded second coming into the race. She won her heat — the first of three in the race — and that winning time held up through the final two heats.
"It was a great feeling because coming into the race, I'm seeded second, and I wasn't really expecting to win," she said. "I won and it was a crazy, crazy feeling. I definitely was excited to win it now."
The two Franklins competed against each other about two weeks ago at the Pikesville Invitational, where Autumne beat Alexis in the 300 hurdles. Maryland public schools run the 300 hurdles, while the Penn Relays add the extra 100 meters.
Alexis Franklin, who has signed to run at Ohio State, has actually struggled at times this spring, and Old Mill coach Janet Liimatta met with her in recent days and told her to relax during her races.
That strategy paid off on Thursday.
"It was definitely one of the most wonderful things in my coaching career," Liimatta said. "The Old Mill boys winning the states in 2004 and now this. It was just unbelievable."
Hannah Oneda of Winters Mill finished 17th in the 3,000 meters later Thursday.