LANDOVER -- In the span of the three minutes that it took to complete the 55-meter sprint in the Class 4A-3A state championships at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex last night, Theresa Lewis felt herself in the middle of perhaps the wildest roller coaster ride of her life.
The Western senior went from disappointment after she thought she disqualified herself with a false start to relief when she found out she was not the guilty party, then to reserved contentment after she crossed the finish line first.
Lewis captured both the 55 (7.16 seconds) and the 55 hurdles (8.01) for the second consecutive year to pace the No. 2 Doves to 52 points and third place.
But it was her tumultuous experience in the 55 that dominated her thoughts.
Lewis, who entered the dash final as the top seed, broke out of the starting blocks before the gun fired. Immediately, she grabbed her head with both hands and walked away from the line without even looking at the judges.
But after a meeting, the judges ruled that the runner in Lane 1 had moved before Lewis, and Lewis was allowed to return to the blocks.
After the runners reset when the starter's gun misfired, the race finally began with Lewis in the middle of the pack. But she accelerated midway through the race and edged Largo senior Michaylin Golladay by .01 of a second.
"I thought I was the first person out," the Louisville-bound Lewis said of her near false start. "I didn't want to false-start my last indoor state race."
Western coach Jerry Molyneaux admitted he didn't see the runner in Lane 1 flinch and thought Lewis had false-started. But he praised Lewis' ability to shrug off the mishap and the physical and mental stress of qualifying and winning the dash and hurdles, which are run back-to-back.
"When the going gets tough, she gets tougher," Molyneaux said. "She's got a will to win. You can't teach that."
At the other end of the emotional spectrum, Woodlawn junior Dwight Parker appeared to be on pace for his first state crown in the 3,200, but in a classic race with Eleanor Roosevelt senior Mikias Gelagle, Parker slowed just before the finish line and Gelagle leaned forward to win - 9 minutes, 32.16 seconds to 9:32.19.
Said Warriors coach Mark Pryor: "He ran 3,197 meters right. Now we have to go back and work on those last three meters."
Glen Burnie sophomore Justin Murdock helped Baltimore-area sprinters sweep the 55 when he won in 6.46 seconds. Broadneck junior Matthew Centrowitz collected his first state title by taking the 1,600 in 4:24.72.
Baltimore-area athletes swept the pole vault. Chesapeake senior Casey Rudd cleared 12 feet to become his school's fifth state champion in indoor and outdoor track in as many years. And Perry Hall junior Jessica Stadler successfully defended the crown she won last winter by vaulting 8 feet, 10 inches.
Broadneck was the area's highest finisher in the boys standings, placing sixth with 20 points.
Powerhouse Eleanor Roosevelt of Prince George's County swept the boys and girls championships for the first time since 2001.
Note -- Mervo co-coach Ronald Neal, who collapsed after the Class 3A-2A championships on Monday and was rushed to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, was described as stable and improving by co-coach Garfield Thompson.firstname.lastname@example.org