As accustomed as the Mervo boys indoor track and field team is to winning, titles have evaded the Mustangs' girls squad.
In sweeping the Class 3A-2A Central region championships at the 5th Regiment Armory last night, Mervo made history by capturing its first girls crown against a field of schools from Baltimore City and Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties.
The No. 5 Mustangs racked up 73 points, more than enough to propel Mervo to its first regional title in any girls sport. The Mustangs then wrapped up the boys title with 86 points.
"That's showing that this program is still at that level," Mervo co-coach Garfield Thompson said of a group that has weathered the graduation of more than a dozen athletes and the retirement of longtime coach Freddie Hendricks. "The kids are still performing well. Nothing has changed in our performances."
The girls squad received a huge effort from freshman Quantikia Stepney, who recorded 40 points. She scored victories in the 500 (1:20.6) and the 800 (2:32.6).
Stepney also joined junior Martia Coleman, sophomore Joi Briscoe and freshman Brittany Everett to claim the 1,600 relay (4:25.0), and teamed with Briscoe, Everett and freshman Nykiesha Sewell to win the 3,200 relay (10:20.7).
Stepney said the regional title helped ease the loss to No. 3 Western at the Baltimore City championships on Thursday.
"It's better winning regionals because there's more competition," she said. "We had to work hard and practice hard."
Two other athletes joined Stepney as multiple winners. Milford Mill sophomore Ariana Forbes took the 55 (7.6 seconds) and the 55 hurdles (8.9 seconds).
City senior Sierra Cary-Brown collected two first-place medals for her performance in the 300 (43.2 seconds) and her contribution on the Knights' 800-relay squad with seniors Nora Hairston and Dawnyea Jackson, and junior Tiava Morris (1:54.7). The Knights placed fourth overall with 34 points.
Franklin finished second with 44 points, paced by junior Michelle Donadio's victory in the 1,600 (5:37.3). Hereford was third with 35 points.
On the boys side, Mervo cruised thanks to senior Brandon Lynch and junior Julius Coleman.
Lynch captured the 300 (37.4 seconds) and the 500 (1:07.2). Coleman took care of the 800 (2:02.2) and the 1,600 (4:38.8).
The pair then joined junior Orlando Brown and sophomore Roosevelt Cooper to claim the 1,600 relay (3:39.7). Brown, Cooper, senior Steve Ladson and junior Brandon Eaton won the 800 relay (1:38.4).
"We're coming together as a team, and we're coming together as a family," Coleman said. "We're going to go to states and do what we've been doing: run hard and work hard."
Northeast placed second with 49 points, helped by a pair of wins from senior Donald Miller in the shot put (42 feet, 11 3/4 inches) and its winning 3,200-relay squad.
Poly senior Tyrell Smith's win in the 55 hurdles (8.0 seconds) helped propel the Engineers to third with 44 points.
Southern-Anne Arundel finished fourth with 36 points, with senior A.J. Lee contributing 20 of the Bulldogs' 36 points after victories in the 55 (6.5 seconds) and the high jump (5-10).