It was the best of times for Centennial runner Pat Rodrigues. It wasthe worst of times for Hammond High girls coach Joe Russo.
Rodrigues set a new county record and was nine seconds away from the state record in the 3,200-meter run Thursday at the state track and field championships in Westminster.
The senior defending champion ran a blazing 9-minute, 16-second race, a full 35 seconds in front of his nearest Class 3A competitor.
The performance broke a county record set in 1984 by Glenelg's JohnScherer of 9:25.5.
Rodrigues had run a 9:51 last week in winning the regional, and 9:32 two weeks ago at the county meet. His winning time at the state meet last year was 9:32.
He had missed most of the regular season with a stress fracture. But, based on Thursday's effort, no one could have guessed he had been injured.
Rodrigues missed the state record set in 1973 by George Malley of DuVal at 9:07.
The Centennial star was scheduled to run the 1,600 and 800 Saturdayon the state meet's concluding day. Last year he was also a state 1,600-meter champ.
As happy as Rodrigues and his coaches and teammates were on Thursday, that's how unhappy Russo and his 800-meter relayteam was on Friday when the 1A and 2A events kicked off.
Russo forgot to bring his entry cards, so he filled out new cards when he arrived at Western Maryland College, where the meet took place.
"But I put down some wrong birthdays on that card, so I had to fill out another one," Russo said. "Then they lost that second card."
Russo said by then the track officials suspected him of trying to pull something over on them by slipping Samantha Andersch into a race where shedidn't belong.
Andersch's name mistakenly was not on the first card Russo had filled out for the 3,200-meter relay team.
So the officials wouldn't allow Andersch, Hammond's top 3,200, 1,600 and 800 runner, to compete, and because Russo didn't have anyone else who couldhave made the team competitive, he scratched the team.
"It reallyhurt because I pulled Mekka Richardson out of the long jump where she was seeded second just so she could run the 800, which I thought wewould win," Russo said. "This has been a really bad day. It's my fault for leaving the cards home."
One team member, Jackie Rieschick,was especially upset at what happened. "This is not the Olympics. We're just 16-year-old girls who have worked our buns off all season toget this far and then this happens. We don't need this kind of pressure."
The only thing that took a little sting out of the day for Hammond's girls was some outstanding running by Kisha Jett and Richardson in the semifinals of the 100 and 200 where they finished first and second, respectively.
Jett was clocked at 12.0 in the 100 and 25.2 in the 200. Richardson ran 12.3 and 26.0. They were scheduled to run the finals Saturday.
Melanie White qualified for the finals in the 100-meter hurdles.
The Bears' 3,200-meter relay team of Andersch, Rieschick, Sarah Wolf and Kacy Williams finished sixth in 10:23.
The Hammond boys coach was much happier than Russo Friday.
"We're doing great so far," Pete Hughes said. "Andre Boone and Robert Sharps both qualified for Saturday's finals in both hurdles events."
In addition, Chris Jefferson finished third in the long jump finals with a school-record 21 feet, six inches. Boone was sixth at 20-8.
"Last year, 20-8 would have been good for second place," Hughes said."But we're in real good shape heading into Saturday."
A thunderstorm with lightning caused officials to clear the track Friday night before the 800-meter relay was run.
Because of an early deadline, the Howard County Sun was unable to wait for that event to be run.
Hughes wasn't the only happy coach Friday. Glenelg girls coach Jim DeNobel had plenty to smile about.
His 3,200-meter relay team finished second by running 20 seconds faster than it had all season, 9:58.2.
"We had only run 10:13 in the regional meet," DeNobel said. "So the 3,200 did exceptionally well."
He also was pleased with discusthrower Debbie Snyder, whose 102-foot, 6-inch throw was her personalbest by four feet.
In the 3,200-meter run, three Glenelg girls earned points. Kate Terry ran fourth in 12:00.8, Kristina Adams finished fifth in 12:02.4 and Alicia Adams was sixth in 12:34.3. Winner Jenny Howard of Fallston ran a 10:57.5, the fifth-fastest state time ever.
Glenelg boys coach Roger Volrath was unhappy over the disqualification of his 3,200-meter relay team.
"We finished second, but an official disqualified us because he said our anchor leg stepped threesteps over the inside line," Volrath said. "The runner thought otherwise."
The Gladiators salvaged some honor when Gerard Hogan finished second in the 3,200-meter run in 10:00.5. The time was slow for him. He ran 9:52 at the county meet.
"I just couldn't get into it," Hogan said. "The winner took off at a mile, and I was boxed in at thetime and didn't have the energy to go around."
In other Class 3A events Thursday, Oakland Mills took first place in the 800-meter relay finals in 1:30.6. Ricky Gray, Korey Singleton, Brandon Hart and Eric Graham ran it for the Scorpions.
In the 3,200-run finals, Tim Brenza finished fifth in 10:09.
And in the 3,200-meter relay, Oakland Mills finished third in 8:18.5 with Brenza, Bill Dye, Hart and MikeVanGhel.
Graham qualified for the 200-meter finals by running 22.0 in the semifinals.
"None of our times were especially outstanding," Oakland Mills coach Caskie Lewis-Clapper said.
Her team was inthird place after Thursday with 18 points, behind Thomas Johnson (34points) and Thomas Stone (22 points).
Howard had a great day Thursday. Long jumper John Finney took first place in the finals at 21 feet, eight inches, his personal best.
The Howard girls 800-meter relay team finished third in 1:47.7 with Dierdre Presley, Nicolle Showell, Jenny McClanahan and Linda Schneider.