The county-champion Reservoir boys team knew winning the 3A East region meet on their home track was going to be a tough feat with the three Baltimore City schools in the mix.
Coach Phil Rogers was worried Poly, City and Digital Harbor would take enough points away from his team to allow Mt. Hebron to pull out the team victory.
As it turned out, though, several unexpected athletes pulled through for the Gators to put them over the top by one point, 115-114, over the Vikings to win the region title on May 15-16.
"Going into the meet, I really didn't know if my team had a chance with the City schools coming in," Rogers said. "What really did it for us was our second (shot put) thrower – Bryce Bruce – he had his best throw and set a 15-foot (personal record), and he ended up finishing fifth. If I had to put it down to one person, one moment in time, one specific aspect, Bryce Bruce came through for us when we needed it in the clutch."
Gators' Mark Sullivan, Matthew Mercer, Kelvyn Sosoo and Leroy Kamau combined to win the 4x100-meter relay (43.26), while teammates Daniel Usher won the discus (155-03), and Joseph Benson (6-4) and Mercer (6-0) finished first and second in the high jump.
As for the rest of the county, Wilde Lake junior Jamila Brown won four events after winning four at the county meet. She won the 100-meter dash (12.17), 200-meter dash (24.82), and was part of the winning 4x100-meter relay team (48.92) and 4x200-meter relay team (1:42.62).
Atholton senior Jen Bleakney won the 800 meters (2:15.98), 1,600 meters (5:00.20) and was part of the winning 4x800-meter relay team (9:28.98).
River Hill senior Chris Heydrick won the 800 meters (1:54.56), 1,600 meters (4:15.94) and was part of the winning 4x800-meter relay team (7:54.42).
Mt. Hebron sophomore Darnell Pratt won the 200-meter dash (21.61), 400-meter dash (48.11) and was part of the winning 4x400-meter relay team (3:25.96).
Other winners for the girls were Glenelg senior Julia Nardone, who won her fourth straight 3,200 meters (11:13.11) regional title, and finished second in the 1,600 meters; Centennial seniors Natalie Jennings in the discus (100-02) and Kaitlyn Wojtanowski in the high jump (4-11); River Hill junior Sophie Caplan in the pole vault (9-0); Reservoir senior Jhanez Lawrence in the long jump (16-7.5); and Long Reach senior Bria Hill in the triple jump (36-7).
For the boys, other county winners were Wilde Lake senior David Eisenhauer in the 3,200 meters (9:55.68); Centennial senior Nicholas Coburn in the shot put (47-1) and sophomore Elijah White in the triple jump (43-0.5); and Glenelg senior Calvin Pitney in the pole vault (13-0).
Though the Gators and Vikings finished first and second in the boys race, River Hill finished third (82 points), Wilde Lake came in fourth (75), Atholton finished fifth (61), Centennial came in sixth (60), Glenelg finished ninth (33), and Long Reach came in 11th (11).
For the girls, River Hill finished in second (81 points) behind Digital Harbor, Reservoir came in third (80), Atholton finished fourth (77), Wilde Lake came in fifth (74), Long Reach finished (55.5), Centennial came in eighth (54), Mt. Hebron finished ninth (49.83), and Glenelg came in 11th (25).
The Howard girls, the two-time defending county outdoor champions, dominated the 4A North region field on May 15-16 with 124.5 points. Paint Branch finished second with 91.5.
Lions' seniors Gabby Rayner won the 800 meters (2:22.14) and Taylor Scaife won the shot put (42-8) and finished second in the discus, but Howard got it done with depth and scored multiple athletes in several events despite several hurdles.
"It was a tough region. We're the only region that has a one-day meet, so it's tough for the kids. We also had our prom the night before, so a lot of our older girls are a little tired and our times were a little slower," Lions coach Tyler Wade said. "(Depth) is something we have tried to accomplish this year. We try to get points and somebody to score well in every event. ... When we try to accomplish that, it's a total team victory."
For the boys, junior Theo Bramimoh was the only winner, taking the high jump title (6-0). Still, the boys finished third (92.83 points) behind Paint Branch and Dulaney.
Wade said the girls are aiming for a top-10 finish at the state meet on May 22-23, and a top-five finish is within reach if things fall their way.
"The 4A states are very, very, very tough," he said. "We want Taylor to try and win in the shot, we want our 4x800 to squeak out a couple points, and Adeola Abdulkadir, if we can get her to place in the top-five in the triple jump, that would be awesome."
The Marriotts Ridge girls finished second behind Largo with 116 points, while Oakland Mills came in fourth (76) and Hammond came in 10th (9).
Mustangs junior Micah Meekins won three events – the 100-meter dash (12.36), the 200-meter dash (24.94) and the 400-meter dash (56.44).
Marriotts Ridge's Bailey Merrill, Sam Price, Carly Albright and Abigail Starks combined to win the 4x800-meter relay (10:10.59).
As for the boys, Oakland Mills came in second behind Largo with 116 points, while Marriotts Ridge finished fifth (67) and Hammond came in 10th (17).
The only boys winner from the county was Scorpions junior Tre'von Hopkins, who won the high jump (6-0).