For Old Mill coach Ron Evans, yesterday's 24th annual Anne Arundel County Invitational Relays, featuring 30 high schools and seven counties, became a critical barometer for the Class 4A regional and state finals.
Winners of 18 state track and field championships, the field-strong 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.
While the Old Mill girls comfortably led this year's meet from start to finish, thanks to three meet records in the discus (98.97 meters), triple jump (31.45) and long jump (15.39 meters), Evans thought the Patriots boys faced another battle like last spring's one-point victory over county-rival Meade. It wasn't to be close, however, as wins in the pole vault and shot put provided a big cushion against Mervo's strong boys squad.
Evans said Old Mill's depth and field strength, where the Patriots captured five firsts, was the difference. The Old Mill girls also placed first in the shuttle hurdle (1:08.6) and 1,600-meter relay (4:09.0), four seconds ahead of Meade.
"We've made some marks. Set three meet records. You've got to pleased any time you set a new record in an event as old as this," Evans said. "That's hard to do."
Old Mill's Dorian Lee, Raina Domneys and Michelle Smith combined to best Potomac's 1980 mark in the girls' long jump (15.23) by centimeters (15.39). Smith also teamed with Jaime Leavy and Katie Mack to break Old Mill's own record from last year in the discus, moving the meet mark from 97.80 to 98.87.
Domneys, who finished second in the triple jump at last winter's indoor nationals, continued her local dominance with a mark of 37.28 meters. Domneys' score, combined with Lee and Smith, was good enough for a meet record of 31.45, besting Old Mill's 1984 record (29.98).
Evans enjoyed the Patriots' day in the sun, knowing next Saturday's county championships will be a much harder challenge because the school prom is Friday night.
"I hate to see kids have to make that choice [between the two]," said Evans, realizing Saturday's championships would take a back seat to aformal dance. "It's a big deal for the kids. Limos. A school party afterward."
Arundel continued the county's strong tradition in the boys 6,400-meter relay with senior Jon Nichols, junior Rob Sutton, sophomore Tony Steele and senior Art Smith scoring a personal-best win (19:09.1), with LaPlata (19:15.9) and Chesapeake (19:23.9) rounding out the top three.
"We just wanted to show Arundel has some power and isn't inferior to others," said Smith, Arundel's anchor man. "Old Mill and Severna Park have made a name for themselves and we wanted to leave a mark here."