A year ago, Oakland Mills and Atholton battled to the bitter end at the state track and field championships before Oakland Mills came away with a one-point win in the race for the Class 2A title.
Yesterday, the Howard County rivals were again fighting for state supremacy. Only this time, each one didn't have the other standing in its way.
After stepping up to Class 3A, Atholton finally claimed its coveted title, scoring a 20-point victory over Carver for its first-ever state crown.
Meanwhile, Oakland Mills tallied an astounding 51 points in the final day of competition to score a come-from-behind win over Wilde Lake and Surrattsville, giving the Scorpions their fourth straight state outdoor title.
The two championships, combined with second-place finishes for the Wilde Lake boys and Howard girls, made it a special day for Howard County track. The accomplishment wasn't lost on Atholton coach Pat Saunderson.
"That's a real honor. I'm not sure many counties can claim that," said Saunderson. "We looked at Oakland Mills as our role model, so I guess we learned well."
Other champions were Mervo (Class 4A boys), Largo (Class 4A girls), Frederick (Class 3A girls), Linganore (Class 2A girls), Francis Scott Key (Class 1A boys) and Smithsburg (Class 1A girls).
The Raiders won just two individual championships -- Mike Eshoo in the pole vault and Jared Howard in the 400 -- but scored in 11 of the 18 events.
Other individual scorers for the Raiders included Cian Oatts (sixth in the 100), Zach Tropf (second in the 800, fifth in the 1,600), Keith Jefferson (third in the long jump, fourth in the triple jump), John Porter (sixth in the triple jump), Howard (third in the 200), Alex Buell (fifth in the pole vault) and 400, 800 and 3,200 relay teams.
Said Saunderson: "The guys really wanted it. After coming so close last year, they weren't going to leave without a state title."
For Oakland Mills, senior Kyle Walker had one of the best days in state track history. Walker won gold medals in the high hurdles (14.58), intermediate hurdles (39.91), 100 (11.37) and 400 relay.
Walker called it the best performance of his life and said winning this state title seemed even sweeter than the other three. "My freshman and sophomore years, this team was just stacked," he said. "This year, every race counted. Every person on this team contributed."
Among those who scored were Kevin Rondon (third in the shot put), Brian Howard (fourth in the shot), Andrew Long (sixth in the shot, third in the discus), Steve Petro (second in 3,200, fourth in 1,600), and Chris Franey (sixth in pole vault).
"I knew we had a shot, but I didn't think our chances were all that good," said Scorpions coach Sam Singleton, whose team was in third place heading into yesterday. "The kids really came through."
Wilde Lake also came through. Led by distance standout Faisal Hasan (first in the 1,600 and 3,200, third in the 800), the Wildecats scored in 10 of the 18 events.
The Howard girls also came close, but a leg injury suffered by standout sprinter Donna Mullings during the 200 cost the Lions valuable team points. Coleen Parker led the way with second-place finishes in the 400 and 800.
In the pole vault, Glenelg's Pat Tvarkunas barely missed a state record. On his second try at 15-1, he cleared the bar, but caught it with his body on the way down. He won the gold in the event.
Pub Date: 5/26/96