With the competition ramped up to its highest possible level, Anne Arundel County’s distance runners responded with a big day at the Maryland Indoor Track State Championships on Tuesday at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex.
The feeling of redemption seemed to be the prevailing impetus for many of the area’s best.
Last year, the Broadneck girls’ 4x800 meter relay team appeared to have captured an incredible state title, outkicking South River during the last leg to win by .03 of a second before being receiving a gutting disqualification for an illegal baton exchange earlier in the race.
Pressured by region rivals Severna Park and Leonardtown at this year’s installment, Broadneck’s Madison Palmer surged to the front of the start of the third leg in an effort to keep Leonardtown’s Nellie Ray, one of the state’s best runners, in check.
“When she passed me it caught me off guard,” Palmer said. “But then I saw that it was Nellie Ray and I knew that if I didn’t get in front of her quick, they would have a big lead before the fourth leg and that wouldn’t be good.”
A strong finish allowed the team of Palmer, Madeleine Hurley, Anna Jenke and Mollie Fenn to capture the 4A state title and complete the redemption tour.
“It feels great,” Fenn said. “For the three of them it felt like a redemption year for but it’s really nice as a freshman to come into it and have a really good team to count on.”
Fenn later finished second in the 3200-meter run to Annapolis’ Anna Coffin, who was looking for some redemption of her own.
After an injury late in the cross country season dimmed her chance at a state title, she turned her attention to indoors, hoping to win at least one before she graduated.
Leonardtown’s Ray surged ahead of the pack early, but, as she always does, Coffin kept her cool and waited to make her move.
“It’s a 16-lap race and that is a lot of laps,” Coffin said. “I knew I could take my time, I wasn’t worried because it’s such a long race. I kept my composure and stayed in the right mental game.”
Coffin eventually began picking off runners, including Ray, before finally winning that elusive state title after years of close calls.
“It’s really great considering how I wasn’t happy with how my cross country season ended,” Coffin said. “I was really hoping to get a state championship this season so I am really happy with how that race ended.”
South River’s Bronwyn Patterson turned a few heads when she won the 4A state championship during the cross country season, but she proved she’s going to be a force in track as well.
Running behind the league pack early in the 1600, Patterson got a sense it was time to make her move.
“Around lap three or four, Alyssa [Combs of Severna Park] kind of made a move,” Patterson said. “So I made a move up and started to get into the mindset that I needed to get ready to go.”
Patterson decided one lap later was the time.
“Around lap five, that was kind of the turning point,” Patterson said. “It was time for me to go and I knew if I was going to do it, I have to do it now.”
She made the move and never looked back, winning by just .07 of a second ahead of Coffin. Patterson completed the double just a few hours later, edging Severna Park’s Emily Knight to win the 800 title.
Arundel’s Tanner Piotrowski went into the 800 race looking to make up for a disappointing performance in the 1600.
“The mile wasn’t what I wanted it to be,” Piotrowski said. “ I wanted to turn around and do the best I could.”
Piotrowski was so eager to have a better performance, he grabbed the lead in the early stages of the race and never looked back, winning in 1 minute, 58.83 seconds, the only athlete in the race to break two minutes.
“All season I have sat back and kicked and I have come up short,” Piotrowski said. “ This time I just wanted to come out and take control of the race and go at it from the get go.”
Redemption didn’t just come to the distance runners though as a story of redemption appeared in a traditional stronghold event for the county.
South River pole vaulter Corey Troxler cleared 14 feet at a meet in January, but only cleared 10 feet, 5 inches to finish seventh in the region and barely qualify for the state championships.
Once in though, Troxler was looking to improve from last year’s tepid performance.
“At this meet last year, I did not do well at all,” Troxler said. “I wanted to come in this year and win, that was the goal. I wanted to come in and do as well as I could and it flowed even better than I thought.”
Troxler’s teammate Kavi Caster came through in the high jump, capturing the state title by clearing 6-feet, 6-inches.
Meade’s Preston Duffield took second place in the boys 4A shot put.
There were several strong performances throughout the Baltimore region as well.
Bel Air’s girls 3200-meter relay team of Elizabeth Pickett, Riley McDermott, Mackenzie Morrison and Morgan Loewe won the 3A state title, edging Northern-Calvert by less then half a second.
Talon Campbell of Reservoir won the boys 3A 300 championship, edging Colby Owens of Milford Mill by a tenth of a second, and later took third in the 500 dash. Adaobi Tabugbo won the 55 hurdles title in 8.27 seconds and took second in the 55 dash.
Mount Hebron’s Sierra Matthews won the girls 3A 500 meters after taking third in the 300 and anchored the 800-meter relay team to a second place finish.
Drew Dailey of Dulaney won the boys 4A 1600 title and Maxwell Myers of Howard won the boys 4A 500 title.
All Monday night long, Hereford and Harford Tech’s girls teams went back and forth in an attempt to win their school a 2A state championship.
The contest came down to the meet’s final event, the girls pole vault. Going into it, Harford Tech led by 10 points, but a second-place finish by Vita Shats and a tie for sixth helped the Bulls earn the points they needed, overcoming the Cobras 60-58.
It was Hereford’s third title in four years and was buoyed by Emily Konkus, who finished third in the 800 and second in the 1600 as well as the 4x400 (third) and 4x800 (second) relay teams.
Harford Tech’s Caitlyn Bobb picked up where she left off during the outdoor season, taking the state title in the 300 and 500 while helping the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams to state titles. Beyonce Kelly won the state championship in the high jump for Harford Tech.
Century’s Jalen Stanton made winning four state titles look easy, winning the 2A 55 dash, 300 dash, 55 hurdles and the high jump, clearing six feet, seven inches to take the title.
Despite scoring 27 more points than at last year’s state championship, Century had to settle for second place, falling to Oakdale 81-77.
River Hill’s Chase McGeehan surprised many when he came out of the second heat to win the boys 2A 500 meter title while Janasia Buckner (55 dash) and Sydney Robinson (300 dash) took second in their respective events.
Oakland Mills won the boys 1600 meter relay title in the 2A meet.