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Centrowitz kicks it into overdrive for upset win


LANDOVER -- Throughout middle school, Lauren Centrowitz was a sprinter.

Last night, Broadneck's sophomore distance phenom ran off with one of the bigger upsets at the Class 4A-3A state indoor track and field meet.

Trailing Dulaney's Tenke Zoltani the entire 1,600-meter race, Centrowitz used a late kick to edge the perennial All-Metro runner in a time of 5:03.2, 10 seconds faster than her previous best. Zoltani still set a Class 3A record in the loss.

"I thought I had a shot at her," said Centrowitz, who was trailing by several meters at mid-race. "She got really ahead, and I thought I had lost. I just wanted to hang out near the lead and kick in the last 400 meters."

For Zoltani, who would win the 3,200, it was one of 10 state or class records on the day, but one of the few from a Baltimore-area runner.

Oxon Hill was tops among boys with 54 points, followed by Suitland (48) and Gaithersburg (42). C. Milton Wright, led by a one-three finish in the 3,200 by Pat Bailey and Will Murdock and a record-setting win in the 3,200 relay, took fourth (28); and Dulaney, paced by Billy Duffy's win in the 1,600 and Will Knox's second-place finish in the 3,200, took sixth.

Eleanor Roosevelt won the girls meet for the seventh time in eight years, racking up 73 points. Largo was second (56) and Western third (49). Dulaney, behind Zoltani, took sixth.

Though Broadneck finished a distant eighth, it was nonetheless a special day for Centrowitz, who also finished third in the 800.

"Lauren's always tried to convince me, and still is, that she's a sprinter," Broadneck coach Dana Dobbs said. "What she has is great speed to be a miler."

She specialized in the 100, 200 and 400 in middle school before discovering her prowess as a distance runner through a twist of fate.

One fall, she agreed to try cross country to stay in shape. When Dobbs got a glimpse of her, however, he quickly convinced her she was running the wrong events.

"I guess it was a good decision," she said.

It also was a good day for Western. The Doves shattered the Class 4A record by nearly 8 seconds in winning the 3,200 relay, as leadoff Latosha Wallace ran a blazing 2.18 split, and Midchilde Carter, Miriama Gondo and Alicia Williams finished in 9:30.9.

Western also caught a break in the hurdles when top-seeded Tiffany Nesfield of C.H. Flowers was disqualified for a controversial false start, allowing Ashley West-Nesbitt and Ashaley Davis to finish second and third. The Doves later scored big points in the 55 dash, with Gondo, the defending All-City/County Runner of the Year, taking second and West-Nesbitt fifth.

Another perennial power, Dulaney, had its share of bad luck.

Christine Myers, maybe the area's second-best distance standout to Zoltani, fell out of contention in the 1,600 when the runner in front of her, North County's Natalie Skurto, got spiked on her right heel, causing her to stumble near the finish line. The Dulaney standout, unable to stop, ran into her back, and was forced to briefly stop before continuing.

Though she finished in 4:12.1, 3 seconds ahead of her qualifying time, she never challenged, and later dropped out of the 3,200.

Mervo, a perennial contender on the boys side, suffered a similar fate when All-Metro sprinter Jabari Bush re-aggravated a pulled hamstring during the 300. The Mustangs ended up seventh.

"We just didn't run very well today," Mervo coach Freddie Hendricks said. "The first places seemed to have disappeared."

Bush had been slated to run in four events, including the 800 and 1,600 relays. In his absence, the Mustangs' best finish was shot-putter Kelley Jackson's second place.

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