This time Thema Napier didn't have to travel halfway around the world to get a taste of international competition.
Napier, who went to Russia last summer as part of a cultural exchange program, joined athletes from 42 schools around the state and a group of 17 athletes from Sochi, Russia, for yesterday's eighth Pangaea International Track and Field Meet.
The senior from Long Reach left the Fifth Regiment Armory with more fond memories, and an assortment of medals and ribbons.
Napier held off Western junior Toni Jefferson by one-tenth of a second to claim the gold in the girls 500-meter dash and picked up a bronze medal after finishing third behind two Prince George's County sprinters in the 55 hurdles.
She closed out the day by finishing fourth in the 800 run and running a leg of the Lightning's fourth-place 800 relay team.
"This was a lot of fun," said Napier, who suffered a sprained ankle on her trip to Russia and still managed to finish third in the 400 hurdles. "I felt really strong."
Junior Toni Jefferson and sophomore Dietra Moore led Western's girls team by finishing second in the 500 and third in the 55 dash, respectively.
Misha Bilyeu, the Anne Arundel County cross country champion, won the girls 1,500 run in 5: 04, followed by Howard County runners Beth Santilli of Glenelg and Michelle Smith of Wilde Lake.
Baltimore County high jumpers Jeff McKelvin of Randallstown and Sarah White of Parkville each collected gold medals in the high jump and Anne Arundel County leapers Edmund Carazo (Meade) and Kaye Powell (Annapolis) each captured a bronze.
Wilde Lake's Ben Coffman nipped Shawn Sullivan of Dulaney to win the boys 1,500 event in 4: 23.0. Sullivan added a bronze to his collection by claiming third in the 3,000.
Derek Anderson of Milford Mill tied Germaine Bennett of Suitland for third in the 55 dash and teammate Derrick Stanfield took third in the 500 behind Mervo champion Odell Taylor and Raymond Hemsby of Oxon Hill.
Lori Tvarkunas of Glenelg didn't soar as high as her brother, Pat, did two years ago to win the Pangaea pole vault title, but her leap of 8 feet earned her a gold medal nevertheless.
Meade's Aaron White was third in the boys 55 hurdles and Dulaney's Matt Insley was third in the boys pole vault.
Russian Dimi Mokhnatkin tied Laurel's Cameron Horton for first in the 55 dash with both runners clocking in at 6.5 seconds.
"I knew there would be a lot of good athletes here in the United States because you have such good facilities over here so I was hoping to finish in the top three," Mokhnatkin said through an interpreter. "I'm very proud of this medal."
Pub Date: 12/12/97