Old Mill coach Ron Evans said he often used Michelle Smith as a measuring stick during the past indoor track and field season.
No, the veteran coach didn't use the senior's 5-foot-9 frame to measure the distance of her shot-put throws; he had a measuring tape for that. What Evans did was use her as a gauge to determine when to end practice.
"I use Michelle as the standard of what is enough," Evans said. "When she's tired, it's time to go home. She's the most intense kid I've ever met, and she has more resolve than any kid I've ever met. There's just no quit in her."
Those are just a few of the reasons Smith was selected as The Baltimore Sun's Anne Arundel County Female Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Smith hit for the cycle at the county meet, taking first in the shot- put, second in the 55 hurdles, third in the 55 -- and fourth in the high jump.
A week later, she played a major role in leading the Patriots girls team to its 14th regional crown as she earned her team 38 points with first-place finishes in the shot-put, 55--- and high jump and a runner-up finish in the 55-hurdles.
Smith ended her final indoor track season by equaling teammate Jamaal Dixon-Hawkins' feat as Class 4A state indoor shot-put champion.
It was for his performance at the states and dedication in the off-season that led to the selection of Dixon-Hawkins as Anne Arundel County Male Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. His throw of 54 feet, 8 inches at the state meet clearly beat the 52-2 of Perry Hall runner-up Charles "House" Adams.
Anything less than a first-place finish by Dixon-Hawkins wouldn't have sufficed; Old Mill needed every point to turn away Eleanor Roosevelt, 50-49, for the Patriots boys' fourth state title.
"A whole bunch of little things came together at once, and that really helped me," Dixon-Hawkins said. "My form, my footwork, my balance and my motivation all came together for me at the same time. I thought I peaked when I hit 52 feet, but I kept working hard and I finally got 54. I worked hard and came up successful."
Dixon-Hawkins' 54-8 throw proved the longest of any high school athlete in Maryland, Virginia and Washington this season.
"Jamaal had four great weeks," Evans said. "Learning to spin correctly is difficult, and Jamaal struggled with it a couple of years ago, but he hung in there and worked outside every day in the cold to get better and, believe me, there were some nasty days. He put in the time and hard work in a sport where you get out of it what you put in."
Getting the most out of what he has is what led to the selection of Meade coach Jay Cuthbert as Anne Arundel County Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year.
Competing with only six male athletes at the county meet, the Mustangs nearly pulled off the upset of the decade but fell eight points short of eventual state champion Old Mill.
"We were a little bit short on firepower this season, and I told the kids to go out and be competitive and the times and places will take care of themselves," said Cuthbert, who has coached track at Meade for 16 years.
"We knew coming into the season we would be thin because we graduated 26 seniors from last year's squad, but I knew we had quality."
Old Mill veteran assistant coach Leon Walter used the word "quality" in his assessment of both Dixon-Hawkins and Smith, but the one word he couldn't refrain from using when describing Smith was "versatility."
"What Michelle did was fantastic, considering most of the other multi-event winners have won strictly on their running," Walter said.