Justin Thaler didn't seem to mind that he was trailing. In fact, that was part of his strategy.
At the Class 2A-1A Central regional indoor track and field championships last night at the 5th Regiment Armory, Thaler, a junior from Pikesville, allowed Southern-Baltimore freshman Joshua Johnson to take a commanding lead in the 1,600 meters.
But midway through the third lap of the eight-lap race, Thaler caught Johnson and passed him en route to his second regional title of his career.
"He took control of the race and took the burden off of me," said Thaler, who finished in 5 minutes, 15.1 seconds. "I figured that I'd just hang with him. Once I passed him, I figured I'd put it in cruise control."
Thaler collected his first regional crown when he joined seniors Ben Sager and Tony Chiarito and junior Kyle Washington to win the 3,200 relay in 9:21.6.
Pikesville sophomore Zachary Friedman took the 3,200 in 11:30.
Team results were incomplete as of late last night.
Havre de Grace senior Kevin Walsh, the two-time 1A outdoor track state champion in pole vault, continued to excel in the event as he cleared 13 feet to win last night's competition.
Walsh also took the high jump, tying a personal-best mark of 6-2. He was joined by teammate and junior Lamar Clayton, who claimed the 55 hurdles in 8.0 seconds.
Reginald F. Lewis senior Mike Johnson collected two regional crowns. He was first in the 300 (39.0) and teamed with senior Travis Alston, junior Davon Bowman and sophomore Dominic Weaver to win the 800 relay (1:38.7).
On the girls side, Southern-Baltimore claimed four of the meet's first nine events.
Sophomore Brittney Griffin accounted for 20 points as she won the 1,600 in 5:54.6, and teamed with junior Monique Bradley, sophomore Josetta McDonald and freshman Denia Franklin to pick up the 3,200 relay (11:15.6).
The Bulldogs also collected victories from junior Vonda Spratley in the 55 hurdles (9.2) and sophomore Setabia Brown in the shot put (27- 3/4 ).
Edmondson boasted a pair of regional titlists in junior Cierra Layne, who won the 55 in 7.2 seconds, and freshman Diana Diane Hunter in the 300 (43.4 seconds)
The 2A-1A East regional championships were postponed after five events because of his hazardous road conditions caused by last night's storm.