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2018-19 All-Metro girls indoor track and field Coach of the Year: Brad Duvall, Hereford

Brad Duvall led Hereford to its fifth indoor track and field state title this season.
Brad Duvall led Hereford to its fifth indoor track and field state title this season. (HANDOUT)

Having won 12 straight Baltimore County girls indoor track and field championships, Hereford was considered an automatic contender going into the 2018-19 season.

Despite the program winning four state championships, including two of the past three, Bulls coach Brad Duvall wasn’t thinking about a fifth.

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“I figured a county championship was something we could certainly do based on knowing the county so well and who was graduating from other schools and things like that,” Duvall said. “I honestly wasn’t thinking about the state meet until about halfway through the season. I was just focused on getting better every day because I didn’t know how good we would be honestly because we had a lot of young kids who stepped in and stepped up.”

Duvall’s intuition proved to be correct as the Bulls rolled to their 13th consecutive Baltimore County title, defeating Woodlawn, 116-65.

After winning the Class 2A Central Region championship convincingly over a talented Harford Tech team, 174.5-131, Duvall began calculating Hereford’s chances at the state meet and liked what he saw.

“About the week of counties, I did some math and I thought it was our meet to lose as long as we don’t screw it up,” Duvall said. “The main thing we did at regionals was run them to just qualify and we wanted to make sure we got decent lane positions for the events that mattered at the state meet.”

Despite Hereford’s resounding victory at the region meet, Duvall knew that Harford Tech could be a problem at the state meet, given the talent of star sophomore Caitlyn Bobb.

With that in mind, Duvall and his staff made some strategic adjustments to put his team in the best position to win.

“Our goal is to not run kids in events where they are not going to make a huge difference in,” Duvall said. “We had kids qualify in the 300 and the 500 and I scratched them both because I wanted them fresh for relays. I have to give Adam Hittner [boys coach/sprint coach] credit. He’s an enormous piece of our puzzle. He deserves as much credit as I do.”

At the state meet, things were tight going into the final event of the day, the pole vault. Needing 12 points for a win and 11 for a tie, Duvall was noticeably animated each time one of his vaulters had a good jump.

“My pole vault parents were standing behind me and they were watching me jump up and down with every clearance and they told me they had never seen me this excited,” Duvall said.

Despite an astounding eight girls clearing 10 feet or higher, Hereford had the points they needed with a second-place finish from Vita Shats and Courtney Butz and Elizabeth Shriver tying for sixth. Shriver’s 10-foot jump was a particular boost as she set a personal best to do it, showing the resiliency of not only herself but the character of the entire team.

“Our girls knew it was all on the line so for them to react that way and perform in such a clutch situation it was incredibly satisfying as a coach to watch,” Duvall said.

With the fifth state championship secured, Duvall was left to reflect on how a team he wasn’t sure about won their third state championship in four seasons despite not having a superstar to carry them.

“We have a lot of role players,” Duvall said. “They take high pressure situations easily and I think part of that is that they have been in so many county championship meets in a row that matter, they are used to performing when it matters and having big performances at big meets. I guess it makes it easier for them when they come down to it. They just focus really well when it matters and for me that’s the difference between championships and not.

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