HAGERSTOWN -- Long Reach's boys didn't score a point in last year's 2A-3A West Regional indoor track championships.
Last night, the Lightning won it, finishing with 69 points at Hagerstown Community College. Paint Branch took second in the 1,600 relay, the final event, to edge River Hill for second place, 62-61.
Long Reach's girls successfully defended their regional title, finishing with 85 points to 62 for second-place River Hill.
The double victory was a first for fourth-year Long Reach in indoor or outdoor track.
Howard County won nine of 13 events in both the boys and girls competition. River Hill's Lee McDuff had four firsts -- 3,200 relay, 1,600 (5: 41.2), 3,200 (12: 16.7), 800 (2: 30.4) -- and Long Reach's Teyarnte Carter three -- 300 (41.9), 55 dash (7.0), 800 relay.
Long Reach's Louis George, who was on a football recruiting trip during last year's regional, had three firsts -- 300 (36.8), 500 (1: 07.1, a Howard County record), and 800 relay, the third to last event that put the Lightning on top for good.
River Hill's Steve Chu won twice -- 1,600 (4: 39.0) and 3,200 relay. Long Reach's Cynthia Nicholls had two firsts -- high jump (5-6, tying personal best) and 800 relay -- and two seconds -- 55 hurdles and 55 dash.
While Long Reach's girls team were favored to win, the victory by its boys was "a pleasant surprise" to first-year indoor coach Errick Henlon.
"I'm just overwhelmed by their performance," Henlon said. "They're all good kids and they feed off each other."
Added Carter: "I'm very proud of them. Proud isn't even the word."
The Long Reach boys scored in 11 events, taking three firsts, two seconds, two thirds, two fourths, one fifth and one sixth.
George, who set a meet record in the 500 at the county championship, was hoping to beat the all-time record because the track here is much better than at the 5th Regiment Armory. It almost didn't happen.
George had to rally on the final lap.
"For a second I didn't think I was going to be able to do it," George said.
"The others were going strong, and I was starting to die. I had to put my heart into it."
Other firsts by county boys included Howard's Justin Ferguson in the pole vault (12-6); River Hill's Evan Prucha in the high jump (6-0), River Hill's Miguel Montanez in the 55 dash (6.4), and Mount Hebron's 1,600 relay team.
Mount Hebron's Leigh Langmead won the 500 (1: 19.7) and finished second in the pole vault.
Long Reach's girls finished 1-2-3 in the 55 dash and River Hill's girls did the same in the 800.
Pub Date: 2/13/00