Parkville's Jen Geroux came to yesterday's state track and field championships sporting a new attitude.
She left wearing a new gold medal and a familiar smile.
Geroux, who struggled in the heat in last Saturday's Class 3A region meet, proved she was better than her eighth seed would suggest as she ran away from the field and captured her second straight 3,200-meter run title.
The Parkville senior will try to capture a second and final state gold tomorrow, when she competes in the 1,600 meters and then takes part in her commencement.
Yesterday's meet at UMBC Stadium featured semifinal and final events between Class 3A and 4A schools. The smaller Class 1A and 2A schools will compete in the same events today, and all four classifications will participate in tomorrow's third and final day.
"I took a whole new mental approach today," said Geroux, who will take her track talents this fall to the University of Miami.
"Normally, I get a little nervous before a race, but today, I said to myself, 'It's your senior year. You're the defending state champ. Go out there and do whatever you can.'
"The heat really got to me in Saturday's region meet, but today was great. Beautiful weather, a wonderful track, great competitors. It was awesome."
Layla Acirfa, Lorna Henry, Elizabeth Johnson and Tia Burley finished second for Western in the Class 4A 3,200 relay, just seven-tenths of a second behind Prince George's County's Largo.
Junior Toni Jefferson helped the top-ranked Doves stay in contention for the state crown, however, by advancing to the finals in the 100 and 200 dashes and posting the second fastest time in both events.
"We should have won that [3,200 meters] but we still got a shot," said Doves coach Jerry Molyneaux. "If everything falls into place, we should be OK."
City's Bryant Johnson finished runner-up in the Class 3A boys long jump, followed by Woodlawn's Artis Stokes in third.
Mervo senior Eric Newby took second in the long jump after clearing 23-7, but Gaithersburg's Shelton Hutchinson took home the gold and the Class 4A record with a leap of 23-10 1/4 .
Erin Nett, Bel Air's star pole vaulter, set a Class 3A meet record by clearing 10-6 but bowed to Karen Allen, of Calvert County's Calvert, who cleared the same height but with fewer misses.
Old Mill sophomore Victor Thillet seemed to enjoy the conditions, too, as he held off runner-up Stephen Hayes, of Montgomery County's Winston Churchill, and metro-area nemesis Jason Santucci, of Westminster, to win the Class 4A boys' 3,200 in a personal-best time of 9: 36.9.
Glen Burnie's Katie Sloan captured the gold in the Class 4A girls 3,200 run, outlasting Dulaney harriers Marjorie Bollinger (second) and Bianca Jay (third).
South Carroll junior Punn Chittchang became state champ in the Class 3A girls triple jump with a winning mark of 38-3 3/4 .
Westminster's Hester twins, Jessica and Emily, took second and third, respectively, in the Class 4A discus behind state champion Ruth Kura, of Montgomery County's Quince Orchard.
North County sprinters Tyrone Powers and Eddie Mackell both advanced to 100 dash finals in Class 4A, and teammate Mardy Mahoney moved into the finals of the high hurdles.
Wilde Lake junior Tolika Wilson claimed second in the girls Class 3A discus, followed by locals Megan Byers, of Liberty, in third and Milford Mill's Tracey Cheeks, fifth.
Pub Date: 5/22/98