North County High graduate Adrienne McCray, a two-time Class 4A state champion in the 300-meter hurdles, began making waves on the national level last weekend.
Competing in the Keebler Invitational Prep Track and Field Meet, McCray, the Anne Arundel County Sun's two-time Female Track Athlete of the Year, placed fourth in a field of world-class high school seniors in the 300 hurdles.
The 21st annual meet, at Elmherst's (Ill.) York High School, attracted the top eight high school seniors from around the world in every event.
McCray, a two-time first-team All-Metro selection who is ranked fourth nationally in the 300, crossed the line in a personal best 42.52 seconds. She eclipsed her state-record of 42.9, which she ran to win her second consecutive state title in May.
The overall winner, top-ranked Tonya Williams of Norview (Va.) High, set a national record of 41.52. Highland Spring (Va.) second-ranked Kyme Townes (42.18) was second, followed by third-ranked Anjanette Kirkland (42.3) of San Antonio, Texas.
"I was in Lane 6 and I came out really hard. But when I saw some of the other girls pulling ahead, I started focusing more on them and wasn't concentrating enough on my form," said McCray, 17, who had beaten Williams and Townes previously.
"My legs hit some of the hurdles, which slowed me down, but those are mistakes that I can work on and correct. I'm happy with my time because that was the best I've ever run."
McCray's effort was good enough to edge New Jersey's fifth-place Eusheka Bartley (42.82), who is the nation's top-ranked 400 hurdler -- the Olympic distance of the race.
McCray, ranked No. 3 nationally in the 400, should see many of the same runners, including Bartley, again in the July 3 Junior Nationals at Ohio State University in Columbus. She'll run against some of the nation's best 20-and-under competitors, including several collegiate freshmen and sophomores.
McCray, who also will take to the track in the East Coast Invitational at Towson State on July 17, has received a full scholarship offer from Penn State. But she is still waiting to hear from Tennessee, which placed ninth in this year's National Collegiate Athletic Association meet.
McCray has steadily improved since her junior season, when she was a three-event champion in both the county and Region IV meets and won the 300 state title.
She concentrated more on hurdles events as a senior, winning both the 100 and 300 titles in the counties and regionals and repeating as a 300 state champion. Her personal-best 100 clocking (15.35) ranked second in the Baltimore metro area.
"Adrienne's goal is to be No. 1 in the 400 hurdles," said North County coach Ed Harte, the Anne Arundel County Sun's 1992 Coach of the Year. "If she places in the top three in any of these events, she can become a high All-American."