LANDOVER -- Welcome back, Garfield Thompson.
The last time Thompson, Mervo's first-year coach, was associated with a Mervo track team was in 1997, and as an 800-meter runner he helped the Mavericks win a state indoor title.
They hadn't won a state indoor title since then -- until yesterday. Third-ranked Mervo captured the Class 3A-2A championship at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Center by dominating middle distances and winning the final event, the 1,600 relay, to defeat runner-up Middletown, 59-39.
"We graduated nine seniors and were starting almost from scratch, but we knew we would go as far as our two horses could carry us," Thompson said.
He was referring to Julius Coleman and Brandon Lynch.
Coleman captured two first-place medals (800, 1,600 relay), a second (500) and a third (1,600).
Lynch took first place in the 500 and the 1,600 relay, and was second in the 800.
"This feels great," said Coleman, a junior. "I always said we'd win a state title before I leave school."
His first state victory in the 800 came after he had run in the 1,600 relay and the 500. Lynch was runner-up, reversing their one-two finish in the 500.
"The 500 was a personal best," said Lynch, a senior. "Julius pushes me in practice, and that helps a lot."
Lynch also relies on his meet-day routine of a peanut butter sandwich and listening to the rap music of Nelly.
The fourth-place 800 relay had Brandon Eaton, Steve Ladson, Roosevelt Cooper and Orlando Brown.
The winning 1,600 relay consisted of Brown, who ran out of his shoe just as the race began, Coleman, Cooper and Lynch.
Andrew Simpson of Milford Mill was second in the 500, and Tim Wunderlich of North Carroll was second in the pole vault.
On the girls side, Westlake of Charles County won the 3A-2A title over runner-up Mount Hebron, 50-35, even though one event must be re-run today. The Vikings cannot catch Westlake.
The course marshals misdirected eight runners into the finish chute after only 15 laps of the 16-lap, 3,200-meter event, leaving only four girls to finish the race.
Meet referee Bo Myers and a three-member jury of appeals decided to re-run the event even though the rules stipulate that every runner is responsible for counting her laps. The race would have been won handily by Towson's Lauren Capone. It will be run today before the 4A-3A meet's 3,200 race.
Westlake won four of the 12 events: the 55, 300, shot put and 800 relay.
Freshman Stepney Quintikia of Mervo won first-place medals in the 500 and 800, helping her team to a fourth-place finish. She edged Mount Hebron's Lauren McClenney in the 500.
"I can run better," said the former Amateur Athletic Union national record holder in the 800 and 400 at age 11.
Mount Hebron failed to win an event, but coach Mark Reedy was pleased with the second-place finish.
"After finishing third at our county meet, the kids got focused and turned it up," Reedy said. "I never dreamed we'd be in a fight for a state title.
Coleen Conley finished second in the 55 hurdles and Sarah Gormley was fourth in the 800 meters for the Vikings, who were third in the 1,600 relay.
Other area winners included Caitlin Hilbert of North Carroll in the high jump and Ariana Forbes of Milford Mill in the 55 hurdles.
Hilbert eased the memory of her second-place county finish at 4 feet, 8 inches by jumping 5-2, her personal best and a school record.
"I was watching videotape last night to learn what I had to fix," she said.
Forbes went undefeated for the season, and her 8.52 seconds yesterday was a personal best.
Sierra Cary-Brown of City was second in the 500 meters, and Shantel Taylor of Owings Mills finished second in the 300 meters. Nikki Opper of Franklin was second in the shot put.