HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Mt. Hebron indoor track and field coach Teyarnte Carter has rarely talked about a team championship with her athletes this winter. The topic was not a point of emphasis ahead of the Howard County championships on Jan. 15, when the Vikings placed third, and it did not come up before they secured the program’s first 3A East region title since 2012 with a 95-point victory on Feb. 5.
So it’s not surprising that entering Tuesday’s 3A state championships, held at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Hyattsville, her athletes continued to focus on accomplishing specific times, not places. They were less caught up with who they could beat and more concerned with how they fast they could run their respective events.
“I have a lot of seniors on the team, and they were really trying to help each other get scholarships,” Carter said. “It was more about the times that you run so we can help the older girls get into school.”
It just so happened that Tuesday night, Mt. Hebron’s time-orientated mindset yielded enough top-level performances to clinch its first runner-up finish at a state meet since 2011 and fourth in school history. The Vikings totaled 43.5 points, making them a distance second behind Northern-Calvert (65 points) but securing the best finish among county teams regardless of classification.
Carrying Mt. Hebron was the duo it has heavily leaned upon all season: sophomore Sierrah Matthews and senior Jaiden Ritter.
Matthews, the reigning 300- and 500-meter dash county champion, was superb in both events Tuesday night. In the 300 she got off to a slow start but regrouped to win her heat in 41.16 seconds and finish third overall. It was not the time she yearned for, yet she refused to dwell on it. The 500 was coming up and she had the top seed time.
Matthews spent most of the 500 running behind Blake’s Noelani Phillips, who got out well ahead of the pack and maintained a sizable advantage entering the final straightaway. But that’s when Matthews made her move. She methodically gained on Phillips, eventually pulling even with her challenger before winning the race by 15 hundredths of a second. Matthews’ time of 1:15.85 was a new personal record by nearly three seconds.
“In the 500 I was like, ‘I know what I have to do,’” Matthews said. “I feel like I executed that to the best of my ability, and I’m just really blessed to do what I did.”
Ritter did not join Matthews in the winner’s circle, but the reigning girls indoor track and field Athlete of the Year capped her illustrious indoor career with a few more achievements. First she earned fifth (41.74) in the 300 for the second straight year, and later on she crossed the finish line third (7.30) in the 55 dash.
And if those efforts were not enough, Matthews and Ritter closed out their valiant state championships by joining senior Blaire Ridgely and sophomore Garcelle Pierre to run the 4x200 and 4x400 relays. Mt. Hebron finished second in both events.
Overall, Matthews and Ritter had a part in all 42 of the Vikings’ points through 12 events, placing them in a tie for second with Blake. All it took then was a seventh-place result from Ainsley Sowers in the pole vault to ensure the Vikings stood alone as the runner-up.
“This just lets [our athletes] know that you don’t have to be a team that’s strong all across the board,” Carter said. “Sometimes it doesn’t really matter that your points are spread across the board. ...It’s important to know that if everybody shows up on that particular day and and does extremely well in whatever events, that we can actually score and run with the best teams.”
Tabugbo wins second straight 3A state title
Multiple factors made Reservoir junior hurdler Adaobi Tabugbo the favorite to win the girls 55 hurdles at the 3A state championships on Tuesday night. For one, she was the reigning state champion in the event thanks to a 8.43-second showing last winter. And second, she won Tuesday’s preliminary race in a personal-best 8.39. None of her competitors ran better than 8.63.
But in Tabugbo’s mind, she was not the athlete to beat. She constitutes comfortability with complacency, and she knows she’s not at her best unless she adopts more of an underdog mentality. So before the event final she changed her attitude to that of state title contender and nothing more.
And with that mentality switch came even greater success.
Tabugbo shaved six-hundredths of a second off her previous personal best by crossing the finish line in 8.27 to win her second consecutive state title. Later in the meet, she set another personal record in the 55 dash (7.291) to finish as the runner-up and then joined Breyonna Young, Adeola Opadina and Sophie Davidson to take second in the 4x200 relay in 1:45.43.
“She’s the most-consistent, hardest-working girl,” Rogers said. “She does the little things right. She concentrates on sleep and eating … and then at practice, she’s not afraid to say, ‘I’m sore’ or ‘I’m hurting,’ so she takes her time off. She’s honest. She’s just a good kid and she listens to what we’re trying to tell her.”
Other top-5 finishers from the 3A girls meet came from Atholton, which had the 4x800 relay team of Camryn Streib, Katherine Morris, Emily Brefo and Gabriella Degrezia (third, 9:54.89), pole vaulter Madison Garrigus (fourth, 9 feet, 6 inches) and thrower Ciara Wainwright (34-10), and Centennial, which relied on Alison Betler (third, 5:14.34) in the 1,600 and Cora Blount (fifth, 11:37.89) in the 3,200.
3A girls scores:
2. Mt. Hebron (43.5 points); 4. Reservoir (36); 8. Atholton (25); T-16. Centennial (11); 26. Long Reach (3).
Campbell caps indoor career with state championship
Senior sprinter Talon Campbell received a taste of what it’s like to win a state championship last winter, helping Reservoir secure the 3A boys title in the 4x200 relay. And while Campbell would again represent the Gators in that event at this year’s state meet, he also readied himself for a chance to win an individual crown.
Campbell’s first opportunity came in the 300 and he took full advantage of it, barely winning the event in 35.85 seconds. He did not achieve the time he was hoping for, but he emerged victorious nonetheless.
“I was a little bummed about the time,” Campbell said, “but at the end of the day, I did get a state championship. So, that’s awesome.”
In his other individual event, Campbell made a late push to finish the 500 in third place with a time of 1:07.79. And in the 4x200 relay, he combined with Jalen Jasmin, Camron Mattocks and Emmanuel Ibeh to lead the Gators to a sixth-place finish.
The other relay in which 3A boys teams from the county fared well was the 4x800. In the first event final of the night, Mt. Hebron leaned on William Jones, Evan Kocsis, Joel Evans and Sam Iseman to earn second (8:17.51), while Reservoir earned fourth (8:30.44) because of Owen Bennertz, Collin Carter, Noah Kim and Vincent Stevens and Atholton (8:35.18) rounded out the top 5 thanks to Nick Weber Jake Perret, Justin Werner and Matt Macdonald.
Individually, Reservoir’s Jalen Jasmin finished fourth in the 55 dash (6.62), Ibeh notched fourth in the 300 (36.26), Long Reach’s Kimball Tyler charged to a fifth-place finish in the 500 (1:07.80) and Jones glided to a third-place result in the 3,200 (10:00.72).
Linganore won the 3A boys state championship with 72.5 points.
3A boys scores:
5. Reservoir (36 points); T-10. Mt. Hebron (20); T-20. Atholton (5); T-20. Long Reach; T-27. Centennial (1).
Myers blows away competition in 5oo
Just by looking at the seed times before Tuesday’s 4A state championships, Howard senior Max Myers knew he had to alter his 500-meter race plan.
Myers admits he “usually has a problem getting out fast” in the 500, though that has not hindered him so far this postseason. After all, he entered the event as the reigning Howard County and 4A Central region champion.
But against the state’s top competition, Myers decided could not afford to fall behind. If he wanted to give himself a chance at victory, he needed to separate himself from the pack within the first 150 meters.
Myers did just that, sprinting to the front of the field and then sprinting some more before he was all alone in first place. He held the position until he crossed the finish line in 1:06.53, a new personal record.
“This is what I’ve been working for my entire career,” said Myers, whose win came in his first-ever individual event at the state meet. “Just doing this, this has been the biggest milestone for track in my life so far.”
Thanks in large part to Myers and senior Eric Okoye, who earned third pace in the high jump by clearing 6-2, the Howard boys team finished ninth with 21 points. Paint Branch (62 points) won the state championship.
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On the girls side, Urbana (46 points) pulled out a victory over Northwest. Howard was tied for 20th with six points.