Annapolis senior gymnast Jamal Minatee admitted yesterday that for abrief moment he considered the "slim chance" that the host Panthers would falter in the county meet.
"But once things got going," he said, "we knew we had it. It was pretty obvious to us."
It was obvious to everyone else, as well. Right from the start.
The favored Panthers easily outdistanced the other six competitors,setting a school record in dethroning Old Mill as county champion.
Annapolis recorded 155.7 points, followed by Chesapeake at 135.4. Those two teams advance to Monday's regional-state meet at Mount Hebron in Howard County.
Arundel placed third with 129.1 points, and Old Mill, whichlost most of last season's team to graduation, was fourth at 126.6.
"As long as we stay healthy, these kids should win a state championship, too," said Panthers coach Neill Russell. "There's a lot of talent on this team."
No one impressed more than Annapolis freshman Peter Lombard, who took the all-around with a career-high 47.7. Included in that total was an 8.9 on the floor exercise.
"I was pleased. I pretty much hit all six events," said Lombard, who wonfive events.
Chesapeake rallied from a slow start to claim secondplace.
"We got a little down after the first two events, and thatcarried over to the next two," said Cougars coach Kerry Bruce.
"But as a coach, I'm happy with them. They're a good bunch of kids. I'mproud of them as individuals."
Bruce's standout, senior Melvin Long, struggled at times, but still managed to take third in all-aroundat 40.8. The Panthers' Dominic Boardley was second at 41.3.
Long fell toward the end of his high bar routine while attempting a new maneuver, but recovered to finish strongly and post a school-record 6.4.
"I'm happy with it, but he wasn't because he's a perfectionist,"Bruce said.
Long said, "I went to hop for my reverse and fell, but at least it was at the end. It would have been tougher to recover if it had happened at the beginning. You just have to get up and get what you can out of it.
"Overall, I was a little down. The drive was there, but the skills didn't make it today."
Annapolis had threechampions in the "specialist" category, for competitors entered in fewer than six events.
Jason Hill, still recovering from a leg injury, took first in the parallel bars and pommel horse, and Minatee wonthe floor exercise.
Meade's Dennis Jones won the vault, Old Mill's Vytas Dulys took first in the rings and Arundel's Jason Maronpot was victorious on the high bar.
The following are team scores and individual results for all-around competitors:
Annapolis, 155.7; Chesapeake, 135.4; Arundel, 129.1; Old Mill, 126.6; Severna Park, 112; Broadneck, 99.3; Meade, 57.7.
All-around: Pete Lombard (ANN), 47.7; Dominic Boardley (ANN), 41.3;Melvin Long (CHES), 40.8.
Vault: Jesse Whyte (SP), 8.8; Shawn Riddell (OM), 8.6; (tie) Melvin Long (CHES) and Floyd Hause (ME), 8.5.
Rings: Peter Lombard (ANN), 8.1; Melvin Long (CHES), 7.7; Dominic Boardley (ANN), 7.0.
Parallel bars: Peter Lombard (ANN), 7.6; Dominic Boardley (ANN), 6.0; Andy Densmore (CHES), 5.9.
Pommel horse: Peter Lombard (ANN), 7.5; Dominic Boardley (ANN), 6.0; Melvin Long (CHES), 4.9.
Floor exercise: Peter Lombard (ANN), 8.9; Dominic Boardley (ANN), 8.7; Jesse Whyte (SP), 8.0.
High bar: Peter Lombard
(ANN), 7.3; Shawn Riddell (OM), 7.0; Melvin Long (CHES), 6.4.