The Jim Vollmer Invitational track meet at Watkins Mill High School was a special one for Brooke Flanigan this spring.
It’s where everything just “clicked,” the South Carroll junior hurdler said.
Flanigan admitted this spring season did not start off how she had hoped, and adjusting from the indoor season took a little bit of time. The Cavaliers traveled to Watkins Mill on April 12, and Flanigan just took off.
“My times dropped and it was really weird, it was just that one meet,” Flanigan said. “They stayed continually dropping and it makes me really excited, so I was working a lot harder than I normally do to get better.”
The Times Girls Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year took first place in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles that day, setting personal records in both events. She won individual county titles in the same events about a month later before setting new personal records at the Class 2A West meet the following week.
South Carroll won its third consecutive county meet championship, and added a regional title 10 days later.
Flanigan finished second in the 100 hurdles in 15.3 seconds and won the 300 hurdles regional title in 46.22 seconds. The 2A state meet was also successful for Flanigan, where she finished fourth in both hurdle events.
Flanigan was also a heavy contributor to the Cavaliers’ 4x100 and 4x400 relay squads this spring. She, along with relay mates Grayson Fipps, Amy Salindong, and Lexi Winkler, captured the 4x100 county title in 51.21 seconds. The 4x400 team of Winkler, Madelyn Boyce, Flanigan, and Megan O’Neill took second at counties.
The 4x100 team finished fifth at the 2A West meet and the 4x400 group took sixth to qualify for states.
South Carroll coach Don Caparotti said he would attend Cavs meets to watch his son practice when he was a sophomore. Caparotti saw Flanigan hurdling and was immediately impressed. Caparotti and Kevin Selby took over SC”s track program two years ago, and Caparotti said he was excited to have Flanigan under his leadership.
“She’s a heck of an athlete,” Caparotti said. “The way she went through these meets, overcame injuries and still kept running PR after PR after PR at every meet, I thought, ‘Holy cow, this has to stop sometime.’ I need to eat what she’s eating. Her performance this year was one for the books.”
Hurdling came somewhat naturally to Flanigan, she said, and she took to it because it was more than just running. She joined the Cavaliers’ squad as a freshman during the 2017 outdoor season and said she looked up to former SC standout Allie Zolkiewicz and other prominent team leaders.
It was only a matter of time before she took on a similar role herself.
“My goals were to always be the best I could be to keep the team happy with how I was doing,” Flanigan said. “As I got older, I decided to take on that role and make sure everybody else is doing the best they can and have fun while doing it.”
Flanigan’s form and acceleration gradually improved as the seasons progressed and Caparotti said most hurdlers start with a four- or a three-step strategy prior to taking the leap. Flanigan has successfully mastered three-stepping and it’s increased her power, and form, as she descends from each hurdle.
How well an athlete can accelerate over each hurdle is what any coach wants to see, Caparotti added.
“She would just accelerate to the next one and pull away from other girls, which is great,” Caparotti said. “There’s nothing wrong with the other girls doing three steps but Brooke found a way to accelerate each time and she kept getting faster and faster. I’m extremely proud of her and am excited for the future.
“That girl is going to make any university that decides to take her even more proud, it’s going to be priceless.”