Lightning flashed, thunder rumbled and rain fell onto the Winston Churchill High School track, and every now and then the sun would make a cameo appearance during the Montgomery County track and field championships, held on Wednesday and Thursday due to the transgressions of Mother Nature.
After two hours on Wednesday and nearly seven more on Thursday, the meet finally came to a close for the girls. The boys discus event will resume on Friday at Clarksburg and it will determine the outcome between Northwest and the Coyotes. As for the rest of the meet, it came with plenty of thrilling finishes, flashy times, and even a one-shoed race.
The most dominant track program in the county was back at it again during the two-day meet as Northwest's girls beat Thomas S. Wootton 74-73 to claim its fourth Montgomery outdoor crown in the past five years. Somehow, the Jaguars didn't have a single girl or relay team win an event and still topped the Patriots.
Clarksburg's boys, meanwhile, are currently leading Northwest 97-88 and have two throwers — Patrick Broussoul and Abraham Kinguelewa — in the discus while the Jaguars have just Brandon Young to make up the deficit.
Josh Trzeciak ran a mile faster than everybody else in the county with only one shoe on. That's right, the Wootton stud went the final 500 meters in the 1,600 half-and-half, one shoe on, one shoe somewhere on the Churchill track.
“About 10 meters left into the race it started to burn so I was just like 'Alright, 10 more meters, let's just make it through,'” he said after holding on for a 4 minute, 21.04 second time to beat Clarksburg's Will Bertrand (4:22.53). “So I make it through, and I try to put weight on it for a second and I fell over.”
There will be more on Trzeciak's gritty race in this week's notebook.
There is no such thing as a safe lead when Gwen Shaw is somewhere in the field, unless of course that lead is handed off to Shaw, in which it will only swell. Col. Zadok Magruder and Watkins Mill will be the first to attest to that. Shaw took the baton in the 800-relay trailing each anchor by several meters. No matter.
By the final stretch, she still had ground to make up. With 15 meters left, still room. But with just a few strides remaining, Shaw completely overtook the field, closing the relay out in 1:45.70 to top Magruder by .22 seconds and Watkins Mill by nearly a full second. Oddly enough, however, Montgomery Blair, running in the first heat, ran a better time than Wootton, and Shaw would have to settle for silver, her only non-gold of the day — she won the 100-hurdles (14.62), 300-hurdles (45.75), and anchored the 1,600-relay (4:00.56).
Panting, exhausted, legs still searing from a sizzling 100-meter run, Jalen Walker had but one more task ahead of him following his victory: a phone call.
No more than 30 seconds after Walker topped a field complete with defending champ Patrick Schlosser, Solomon Vault and Fitzroy Clair in the 100, somebody handed the Northwest sophomore a cell phone. It was his big sister, already congratulating her little brother on avenging a previous defeat to Schlosser by one hundredth of a second in last year's county meet.
“She's one of those tough sisters,” Walker said. “If you're not first, you're last.”
Walker was far from last in his event, and the Northwest boys, which have made a remarkable turnaround from last year, were a far cry from where they finished just a season ago.
The Jaguars took an easy, 10-second victory in the 3,200-relay (7:57.06) and Walker later led them to another in the evening's nightcap, the 1,600-relay (3:27.97).
For many reasons, the lead seemed insurmountable. First, this was the 1,600 meters, one of Caroline Beaks' hallmark events. Second, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase sophomore was leading by a cozy 25-30 meters with barely a lap remaining. Third, Beakes had proven not two weeks ago that she could compete with a Penn Relays field.
And then Walt Whitman's Clare Severe rendered all of that irrelevant. With a little more than a lap left, Severe made her move, turning in one of the most impressive finishes of the day to overtake Beakes and claim gold in 4:57.23, topping Beakes by nearly three seconds.
Severe also played a part in Whitman's runner-up 3,200-relay team (9:32.57).
Beakes, meanwhile, would recover well, claiming individual gold in the 3,200 (11:19.74) and 800 (2:19.93) meters and adding a leg in the winning 3,200-relay (9:25.92), which was anchored by Brittney Wade.
“Thinking that I hear somebody behind me, I have to go,” Wade said of her mindset in a race such as the 3,200-relay where the next competitor was about 50 meters behind. “That really helps me a lot.”
The Watkins Mill 800-relay team was disqualified by its own coach seconds after winning the race. Anchor Quinton Littlejohn was laboring down the stretch in visible pain, but he held onto his lead long enough to take the victory until he threw the baton onto the track, which earned the Wolverines a DQ from their own coach. Gaithersburg (1:30.50) was therefore promoted to the top of the medal stand.
Chase Weaverling, who finished 17th in the 3,000 at the Penn Relays (8:36.97), blew away the field in the 3,200, finishing in 9:30.32 to top Bertrand (9:41.51) and Wootton's David Levine (9:42.09).
James H. Blake's Martha Sam had a medal-laden afternoon. The sophomore claimed gold in the 100 (12.34), 200 (25.60) and added a silver in the 400 (56.81).