Mt. Hebron sprinter Jaiden Ritter was one of several Howard County athletes to take home a medal on Friday, which served as the opening day for 3A/4A schools at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association track and field championships.
The six Howard County schools in Class 3A and 4A combined to finish in the top three in five events between the boys and girls at Morgan State University’s Hughes Stadium, with Ritter winning a silver medal and placing first in a preliminary race.
The senior finished first in the girls 100-meter dash preliminary race — qualifying for Saturday’s finals — and ran the final leg on Hebron’s second-place finishing 4x200-meter relay team.
“It was about everyone coming out here and leaving it all on the track,” said Ritter, who also qualified for the 200 finals on Saturday. “It’s not as much about the place as it is about the time. We accomplished what we set out to do.”
Ritter, a Boston University commit, finished the 100 preliminary in 12.09 seconds. In the 4x200, she joined Sierrah Matthews, Blaire Ridgely and Garcelle Pierre for a personal-best time of 1 minute, 40.97 seconds.
“Sierrah got out very well; Garcelle ran a really good time; Blaire brought it in; and Jaiden finished,” said Mt. Hebron head coach Teyarnte Carter. “I think they did a really good job to finish second when running against a top team (James H. Blake).”
Howard’s Amanda Eliker then finished second in the girls two mile, crossing the finish line in 11:05. Eliker, who ran a leg in Howard’s 4x800-meter relay during the regular season, did not on Friday.
“My coach wanted me to be able to do well today and place, so I didn’t run the (4x800). I guess it worked out,” said Eliker. “It can be hard doing both in the same day. You run the 800 all out and then your legs are tired for the two mile an hour later.”
Centennial’s Jacob Cole followed up Eliker’s placing with a bronze medal in the boys two mile. The sophomore, who said Friday’s 3,200-meter run was only his fourth time running the event, finished the race in 9:41.
“My coach doesn’t like putting younger kids in the longer distance events,” Cole said. “I wanted to score points for my team, but I really wanted to get a medal.”
Friday’s action also featured the preliminary races for the boys and girls 100, 200 and 110/100 hurdles.
Atholton’s Ali Bowens qualified in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, while Reservoir’s Darius Ellerbe and Emmanuel Ibeh earned spots in the 100 and 200, respectively.
Reservoir’s Adaobi Tabugbo qualified in the girls 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles. She ran the fastest 100 hurdles time by 55 hundredths of a second. Teammate Kimayah Faye also qualified in the 100 hurdles.
In addition to Ritter, Ridgely also qualified in the girls 100. Ritter believes she can improve on her 12.09-second time she ran in the 100 prelims.
“There were some technical things I need to fix in my race,” Ritter said. “Tomorrow, I’m going to focus on fixing those. My own personal goal is to win tomorrow, but if not to win, to at least (run a) PR.”