The Oakland Mills boys and the Hammond girls, both favorites, won county track and field championships Thursday at Mount Hebron High School.
Oakland Mills, led by four gold medals from senior Eric Graham, beat runner-up and defending champion Hammond, 141-125.5, a wider margin than expected. Howard was third at 90 and Glenelg fourth at 81.5.
Hammond, led by four gold medals from freshman Kisha Jett, beat runner-up and defending champion Glenelg, 126.5-117.5, a smaller margin than expected. Oakland Mills was third at 78 and Centennial fourth at 77.
FOR THE RECORD - Robert Sharps of Hammond was misidentified in a photo caption accompanying a May 12 story about the county track and field championships.
Sharps placed first in the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 15.3 seconds. He also won the 300 hurdles in 42.3 seconds.
The Howard County Sun regrets the error.
The meet featured record-setting performances by Jett, Hammond's Mekka Richardson and Centennial's Pat Rodrigues.
Oakland Mills gave Coach Caskie-Lewis Clapper her first outdoor title in five seasons as head coach. She has coached the Scorpions to four indoor titles.
Graham, winner of the Ironman Award as the meet's outstanding athlete, took the 100, 200 and 400 meters and the 800-meter relay.
"I was nervous about the 400 because I had run it only once in open competitionthis year," Graham said. "I got out slowly, but I had something leftbecause I wasn't pushed as much as I expected to be."
Outstandingperformances from other Scorpions included Ricky Gray and Josh Waller.
Gray ran second in the 200 and 400, where he was seeded sixth and fourth, respectively. He was also part of the first-place 800 and second-place 1,600 relay teams.
Waller finished above his seeding three times, running third in the 110 and 300 hurdles and tying for fourth in the high jump.
"Hammond kept running below its seeds, andwe kept running above ours," Lewis-Clapper said. "Waller was an important key, because he was in events that Hammond was expected to do well in."
Waller was unseeded in the high jump, and seeded only sixth in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the 110 hurdles.
Top-seeded Scorpion Korey Singleton won the shot put. Teammate Rob Bundy was fourth.
Scorpions Blaine Hart and Todd Colby tied for second in the pole vault, an event won by Glenelg's third-seeded Aaron Browning.
Distance running has long been an Oakland Mills strong point and continued to be.
Ken Plasse finished third and Tim Brenza fifth in the 3,200 for Oakland Mills. Hart ran on the winning 800 and 3,200 relaysand Brenza on the 3,200 relay.
Bill Dye, third in the 1,600 open,also ran on the winning 3,200 relay. Plasse was fifth in the 1,600 open.
Oakland Mills faced a hardship when Joe Drissel, top-seeded in both the 800 and 1600 open, and a member of the top-seeded 1,600 relay squad, was unable to run because of an ankle injury. Because he withdrew at the last moment, the Scorpions were unable to substitute for him in the 1600 and 800 opens.
"We didn't know until today (Thursday) that he wouldn't run," Lewis-Clapper said. It was hard for himnot to run, but he had to think of the future. When he didn't run, we knew we were up against the wall without him."
Oakland Mills, with freshman Eric Larsen subbing in the 1,600 relay, finished second. The Scorpions won both the 800 and 3,200 relays and were third in the400 relay.
"Some of our hurdlers and jumpers didn't come through for us," said disappointed Hammond coach Pete Hughes.
Hammond's Robert Sharps came through for the Bears, winning both the 300 and 110 hurdles, but the Bears' expected 1-2-3 finish in the 110 and long jump never materialized.
Howard's John Finney jumped from third seed to win the long jump over runner-up Kyle Jefferson of Hammond, who was second seeded. Top-seeded Andre Boone faded to fourth. Unseeded Chick Jett of Howard finished third.
Howard also hurt Hammond in the high jump and triple jump.
It was a banner meet for Centennial's Rodrigues. He won the 3,200 by smashing his own 9:51 meet record set last year. Wednesday he ran a 9:32.8, which was not far from the overall county record of 9:25.5 set by Glenelg's John Scherer in 1984.
Rodrigues, who missed part of the season with a leg injury, won the 1,600 Thursday in 4:30.1, just 2.6 seconds ahead of Glenelg's Gerard Hogan.
The bulk of the scoring for Hammond's first county girls track title came from three girls: Jett, Mekka Richardson and Samantha Andersch.
Jett won the Ironwoman Award for Hammond by capturing the 100, 200, 400 and long jump. She set a meet record in the long jump at 17 feet 8 1/2 inches, beating the old mark by one-half inch.
"I was at 17-4 after the semis and no one else had broken 16 feet," Jett said. "My coaches told me to go for the record."
Jett was tested in the 400, where Christine Thomas of Oakland Mills held alead down until the final turn, when Jett put on a strong finishing kick to win by two seconds.
"Christine is very strong," Jett said."It helped that she was in an outside lane so I could see her all the way."
Thomas also finished second to Jett in the 200 and led by five steps going down the stretch. "I couldn't catch her on the turn this time and was scared. At first I didn't think I could catch her, but I just started pumping my arms." Jett won by three-tenths of a second.