For Mervo, having already posted the area's best relay times this spring in the 400-meter (42.2 seconds), 800 (1 minute, 28.9 seconds) and 1,600 (3:23.7), the 24th annual Anne Arundel County Invitational Relays was a perfect opportunity to prepare for the school's first crack at a Class 4A state title.
"We get a chance here to see the state competition that we will face in Track and field
our region [4A, Region II] in the next couple weeks," Mervo coach Freddie Hendricks said. "Last year, we were here after prom night and it greatly affected our standing since we only entered a select number of events. This time we'll have a better feel."
Winners of 18 state track and field championships, the field-strong Old Mill Patriots wanted to show how they might stack up against Baltimore City's top teams, which are eligible for state-title honors for the first time.
Old Mill's girls showed they'll be the Class 4A team to beat with a resounding 35.5-point triumph over second-place Chesapeake (46 points) and third-place Westminster (44 points).
In the boys division, Old Mill made it a Patriots sweep for the second straight year, placing in the top three in seven of the 14 events and finishing with 63 points. Mervo was second with 47 and Severna Park was third with 38.
Gilman, finishing at the back of the boys pack, placed third in the discus.
Although Hendricks had a majority of his team yesterday, with Friday night's junior prom affecting only the 1,600 boys and girls relays (scratched), Mervo's chances of a meet win were hindered by not having pole vault and discus entries.
Mervo boys, led by junior Ben Brasswell, made a late charge by nearly breaking the meet long-jump record and capturing the 800 relay in 1:28.7, a second off Largo's 1982 meet mark.
Brasswell's leap of 22-3 1/2 in the boys long jump paced the team's 20.08 average, besting second-place Westminster by a foot and a half.
"When I made that jump, I touched the wood [take-off], just nipped it," said Brasswell, whose personal best in the event is an area best 22.6. "My coach said I would have had 23 feet, 5 inches otherwise."
Mervo sophomore Dante Palmer jumped 22-2 1/2 and senior Rodney Cabean's best effort was 21-6.
Mervo's Shelton Downing cleared the high-jump bar at 6 feet, pacing his trio to first ahead of Potomac and Old Mill.
Despite winning the boys 800 relay, Mervo's biggest disappointment came in the boys 400 event. A dropped baton on an exchange knocked the heavily favored Mustangs out of the relay running, opening the door for rival Poly to win in a time of 42.6.
"Everybody has their day," Mervo junior Anthony Stuckey said of Poly's surprise win. "The four horsemen will be back come the states."
Old Mill's girls set field records in the discus and long jump.
Michelle Smith, Jaime Leavy and Katie Mack combined to best the Patriots' own discus mark (97.80) set last year by 1.17 meters. Smith teamed with Raina Domneys and Dorian Lee to topple Potomac's long jump record of 15.23 with a 15.39 effort.
Glen Burnie captured the first event of the day, the 6,400 relay ( 23:10.2). McDonogh finished second (23:49.8).