Glenelg senior Aaron Browning won the state Class 2A pole vault title Saturday, soaring a foot higher than he ever had.
Browning's best outdoor mark had been 12 feet. But he vaulted over the 13-foot mark during the state track championships in Westminster.
Despite his effort, Glenelg narrowly missed the Class 2A state track title.
Wilde Lake finished second in Class 1A.
The pole vault was one of the final events of the Class 2A meet, and Browning's victory gave Glenelg 10 points in its effort to edge Surrattsville for first place.
Browning credits coach Roger Volrath for the excellent vault.
"He took the pressure off me by letting me think my vault didn't mean much in the team standings," Browning said. "He said we were a long shot, so I relaxed and everything just flowed."
Browning said he thinks a new pole also helped.
Unfortunately for Glenelg, Surrattsville won the meet's final event, the 4x400-meter relay, and edged the Gladiators, 57-55 1/2 .
Glenelg finished a surprising third in the 4x400-meter relay, turning in a season-best by two seconds.
The Gladiators probably lost the title when a couple of runners inexplicably turned in poor performances in the 4x800-meter relay, usually one of Glenelg's strongest events.
A victory Saturday would have given Volrath and his Gladiators state titles in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track -- a highly unusual feat.
Although somewhat disappointed by second place, Volrath refused to blame any event or athlete for the defeat.
"We could have won in four or five different ways, and I fear quite a few people will be blaming themselves," Volrath said.
Even Glenelg star Gerard Hogan, headed to Villanova on a Presidential Scholarship, was second-guessing himself. He won the 3200-meter and 1600-meter runs, but was fourth in the 800.
He ran the slow heat of the 800 because of a slow regional time.
"He was tired in regionals because the 800 was his fourth event that day," Volrath said.
Hogan said that had he been in the fast heat, he might have finished third instead of fourth, since he would have been pushed to run harder. The third-place finisher ran only 1.5 seconds faster, and the two extra points for third place would have moved Glenelg ahead of Surrattsville.
Glenelg is familiar with heartbreak. It has never won a state outdoor boys title. Two years ago, team members thought they had. They even took home the trophy. But a scoring error discovered the next day resulted in the title going to another team.
Glenelg's Jeff Slack finished second in the high jump, and Edward Hogan was fourth in the 3200-meter run for Glenelg.
Hammond finished fourth, with 45 points, and Oakland Mills sixth, with 36 1/2 points.
Hammond's Andrew Tetteh won the triple jump, and teammate Robert Sharps won the 110 hurdles and was second in the 300 hurdles. Kris Jefferson placed in three individual events for Hammond, 110 hurdles (6th), long jump (5th) and triple jump (6th).
Shandar Marioner of Oakland Mills finished second in the 400 and fourth in the 200. Teammate Wade McHargue was third in the shot put. Scorpion Tim Brenza was fourth in the 1600-meter )) run and fifth in the 3200.
In Class 1A action, Wilde Lake won two relays and finished second in two others to snatch second place behind Milford Mill, 81 1/2 -71.
"We were surprised to finish that high," coach Bill Valcarenghi said. "We only had eight kids in states and lost every one of our dual meets this year."
The hub of Wilde Lake's team was a trio of quality sprinters: Andre Martin, Craig Butler and Reggie Alston.
Martin won the 200 meters and Butler the 100. Alston finished second in the 200, despite running with two broken toes.
Valcarenghi called Wilde Lake's second place in the 4x800 relay a "miracle."
That relay team consisted of Gantry Lewis, Steve Alleyne, Martin Briggs-Hall and Zeyn Desai.
"We expected fifth or sixth place, but knocked 10 seconds off our regional time," Valcarenghi said.
The winning 4x100 team consisted of Butler, Alston, Martin and Alabi Molake. Lewis, Butler, Alston and Martin ran the winning 4x200 relay.
In second place in the 4x400 were Lewis, Briggs-Hall, Butler and Martin.
Desai finished sixth in the 1600-meter run and third in the 800.
"We went from scoring only nine points in the state meet last year to 71 this year. Hopefully, this will take us in the right direction," Valcarenghi said.
Top finishers at state meet
County athletes who placed in the top six at the state track and field meet (May 21-23) at Westminster High School:
Atholton (Class 3A): Boys -- Bryan Townsend, third in 1,600, 4:32.2; fourth in 3,200, 9:55.4; Tony Dedmond, fourth in long jump, 21-8 1/2 ; Rob Reese, fifth in pole vault, 12-0.
Centennial (Class 3A): Boys -- James Koehler, sixth in high jump, 6-0.