Howard leaps to title with Jackson


WESTMINSTER -- All Mona Jackson of Howard High School needs to figure out now is what to do for an encore.

Jackson, a freshman who wanted to be a sprinter, wound up winning the high jump, taking second in the triple jump, third in the long jump and lifting Howard to its first girls state track and field championship yesterday in Class 3A action at Westminster High School.

Howard finished with 58 points, ahead of two-time defending champion Bladensburg with 53 and McDonough with 52.50 points. Jackson personally accounted for 24 of the Lions' points.

Jackson's high jump victory was dramatic. She missed her first two attempts at 5 feet 1. If she failed once more, the title would go to Meridith Benzing of Catonsville.

The freshman came through, however, making the big jump to win the state title. She tried to calm her nerves and give herself luck by clutching her stuffed animal -- an unnamed fox. It %J worked.

"I was scared, I took deep breaths," said Jackson. "[On the jump] I saw I had it. I smiled as I went over the bar."

Jackson wanted to be a sprinter when she came out for the team, but was shifted to the field events due to her leaping ability. That paid off handsomely as she finished second in the triple jump on Thursday and third yesterday in the long jump.

"She's a great athlete," said Howard coach Joe Thomas. "She'll keep getting better, no doubt in my mind."

Howard came through mainly in field events and relays. Camille Powell won the triple jump [35-2], Jackson was second and Julie Bowers was fourth [35- 3/4 ]. Jackson won the high jump and was third in the long jump. The Lions took second in the 4x200 relay.

Catonsville also gave a fight, finishing fourth with 51 points. Freshman Ann Giardina led the way as she won the 3,200 on Thursday in 11:34.3 and took third in the 1,600 yesterday in 5:18.4.

On the boys side, there was little local success save for South River hurdler Jason Fullmer, who won the 110- and 300-meter hurdles with late charges.

Potomac was the overall winner with 77 points. The only local teams to crack the top 10 were C. Milton Wright [fifth, 29 points], South River [seventh, 26] and Randallstown [ninth, 23.5].

Fullmer, who is unbeaten this year in the 110, had characteristic slow starts in both races, but roared back to take the top spot each time.

"I'm stronger at the end of a race, my legs are longer and it takes me longer to get going," said Fullmer, 6 feet 5, who set a personal best in the 300. "I'd rather be a strong finisher than a strong starter."

NB Fullmer wound up accounting for 20 of South River's 26 points.

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