Marriotts Ridge junior Micah Meekins said after losing the 300-meter dash at the indoor 2A state meet in February that she was anxious to prove herself and compete for a state title in the outdoor season.
Not only did she prove herself at the MPSSAA outdoor track and field state meet at Morgan State on May 22-23, she put on a show.
Meekins came from behind to win the 2A girls 100-meter dash in 12.43 seconds, .02 ahead of Liberty's Kara Patrice, and then went on to take titles in the 400-meter dash (57.24) and the 200-meter dash (24.95) to finish alongside Atholton senior Jen Bleakney as three-event winners.
"After my 100, I was so tight. The 100 was my hardest race today, and after I won it, I knew it was going to be a good day. I knew I could take everything else I'm running. I'm so happy," Meekins said. "I'm so excited. That was my goal today – to win three."
Bleakney, along with sophomore Eleanor Vanvranken, senior Rebekah Markovitz and sophomore Fanny Yayi-bondje, dominated the 3A girls 4x800-meter relay (9:29.66), and then cruised to victories in the 800-meters (2:14.21) and the 1,600-meters (4:58.29).
Mt. Hebron sophomore Darnell Pratt won the 3A boys 400-meter dash in 48.53 and the 200-meter dash in 21.86, and finished second in the 4x400 and third in the 100-meter dash.
Centennial senior Nicholas Coburn threw 49-3.5 feet to win the 3A boys shot put, and the River Hill boys team of Tanzer Balimtas, Mark Moody, Liam Pedersen and Chris Heydrick ran the 4x800 in 7:58.59 to outpace the Mt. Hebron boys (8:03.63) for the title.
In 4A, Howard senior Taylor Scaife won the shot put by throwing 42 feet, 3.5 inches, and finished third in the discus (117 feet).
Glenelg senior Calvin Pitney ended his stellar pole vaulting career by clearing 14 feet, 6 inches and won the 3A boys title by a foot and a half.
Centennial sophomore Elijah White won the 3A boys triple jump with a jump of 45 feet, 7.75 inches.
In the 3A boys race, Mt. Hebron with 62 points, only .5 of a point behind champions Westlake.
Meekins best finish at the state outdoor meet last year was sixth in the 200. She didn't qualify for the finals in the 100, and didn't even run the 400.
At the county meet, she won her first event in the 400, but finished fifth in the 100 and second in the 200.
The wins on the big stage prove her hard work over the past year is paying off.
"To come back and win all three of these events – it's amazing," Meekins said. "I was getting sleepy over there (after the 100). So I was like, 'let's get this done as soon as possible.' I got all my (personal records at regionals) and it helped me get these race seedings. ... I have nine practices a week and have put in a lot of effort to win."
Over the last two years, there may not have been a Howard County athlete as successful as Bleakney.
She won the 4x800, 800 and 1,600 at outdoor states in 2014, then won the 1,600 state title in the indoor season. But that didn't prevent the nerves from coming back.
"I can't say it was unexpected, but I was like really unconfident going into the races," she said. "It just freaked me out being back at states and having such high expectations from last year. I wanted to hold them again, and I think I freaked myself out."
The wins were a little bittersweet, though. During the last 300 meters of her final 800-meter race, it finally started to sink in that it would be the final time she ran a competitive race on a track. She leaves in early July for Syracuse University, where she will play field hockey.
"I kind of thought about it before my (800) race, and I was like this is my last ever for high school because I'm not running in college," she said. "This is my last everything. My last 300, one of my teammates yelled 'last race,' and I was like, 'oh my god, this is the last 300 meters I ever have to do.' It hasn't really hit me yet. ... I'm going to miss running a lot. I wasn't expecting this coming into my track career."
Coming off four victories at the county and region meets, Pratt had high expectations coming into the state meet.
He finished third in the 100-meter dash on Friday, but made up for the loss by cruising to victory in the 200 and 400.
"It was a pretty good day. I was impressed," Pratt said. "(I was most impressed with) the 200, because (Westlake's) Will Moten won the 100, so I knew the 200 was longer and I could close on him at the end."
He added he was disappointed he didn't win the 100, but felt better about it after dominating his specialty event – the 400.
"The 200 and 400 are my best events, and now my 200 time is going down too," Pratt said. "It means a lot. I've been working hard, and I just wanted to show I'm a top talent in the state."
Coburn only had only two throws count – his first and third of six – but his third throw was enough to hold off the rest of the competition, albeit nervously.
"It was a pretty good throw. I've thrown better, but for today I think it was a really good throw," Coburn said. "All my work during the season – indoor and outdoor – just changing the way I spin from glide to spin, and to finally do it here and get gold, it's awesome. ... It's very exciting. Without coach (Alan) Dodds, I wouldn't be where I am. It's been a good ride."
Moody said the 4x800 relay win was special considering how coach Paul Hugus was able to get four true 800-meter runners to run together.
"The three of us – Liam and we were all coming back from a state championship win last year, and that team was special. We knew coming back would be at least that special, if not even better," Moody said. "I don't think our time was as good as last year, but our overall times improved. It's just so exciting to be able to perform at this level and have confidence that we will win and to go out and do it. It was great."
Scaife finished out her stellar career with a dominating win the 4A girls shot put. She threw more than four feet longer than Shanice Hamilton of C.H. Flowers.
"I did all right, I thought I had a little more in the tank. ... I threw two 42's so not the worst, not the best. I can live with it and do better the next meet," Scaife said. "Overall, I'm pretty proud of myself and the growing that I've done and everything that I've learned technical wise. I'm pretty happy about my four years."
Scaife said she is excited to move on to the University of Houston, where she aims to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the weight throw – an event she is ranked sixth in the country in despite high school's not putting on the event – during the indoor season.
River Hill senior Chris Heydrick has earned eight state, 11 region and 14 county gold medals in his career, but ran into Milford Mill's Jordan Leon, who outpaced Heydrick to win the 800 and 1,600, to fall just short of adding two more to the collection.
"At the state meet last year it was pretty much the same thing except me in front of him in both. This year he just brought the heat. He swept the distance events. I've got nothing but respect for the guy. He ran some great times," Heydrick said. "Overall, I was happy with the races. Especially coming off the injury, I wasn't expecting to PR (in the 800) at all, and now I'm running consistent 4:15 and 4:16 (in the 1600), so nothing but happiness at the end of the year. ... I'm nothing but happy about my career. I've been the top guy at my school since my third race of my freshman year."
Wilde Lake junior Jamila Brown won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays at the county and region meets, but fell just short and finished second in the 100 (12.06), 200 (24.41) and 4x100 (49.20), and fourth in the 4x200 (1:45.43).
Still, the accomplishments were nothing to frown at as she ran 12.06 in the 100 and 24.41 in the 200. Her counterpart in both races – Westlake's Kiara Parker – ran what would have been a 3A record 11.51 in the qualifying round of the 100, and then set a new class record in the 200 (24.21).
"I'm proud of my times. I really can't complain," Brown said. "She's a really hard runner too, so if I were to lose to anybody, she did push me too."
The times and accomplishments mean that much more considering she struggled during the indoor season.
"I feel like I got my confidence back," she said. "It was all my head and now my new mindset is as long as I give 100 percent I can't be upset. And I think that's what I struggled with in indoor."
2A boys team scores: 1. Century, 85.5; 7. Oakland Mills, 26.5; 33. Marriotts Ridge, 1.
2A girls team scores: 1. Oakdale, 105; 6. Marriotts Ridge, 42; 15. Oakland Mills, 16.
3A boys team scores: 1. Westlake, 62.5; 2. Mt. Hebron, 62; 5. River Hill, 42; 6. Reservoir, 38; 7. Centennial, 30.5; 8. Atholton, 26; 16. Wilde Lake, 16; 24. Glenelg, 10.
3A girls team scores: 1. Milford Mill, 62; 5. Wilde Lake, 45; 7. Atholton, 35; t14. Long Reach, 16; 17. Reservoir, 15; 18. River Hill, 12; t21. Mt. Hebron, 11; t21. Centennial, 11.
4A boys team scores: 1. Bowie, 77; 34. Howard, 1.