Alexis Hurd, Katie Hursey and others helped the No. 4 North Carroll girls team run away with its second consecutive victory in the Carroll County track and field championships last night at Century.
Hurd, a freshman, won three races and the long jump. Hursey fared just as well, taking three races and running on a victorious relay to help the Panthers repeat. The two combined for 80 of North Carroll's 182.833 points, far outdistancing Century (76).
The boys competition was closer and featured a dramatic ending. Francis Scott Key led throughout the meet but needed a lunge from Adam Mitchelltree at the end of the 1,600-meter relay - the night's final event - to earn a share of the county title with Westminster. Each finished with 123 points.
Westminster had won 23 consecutive county titles until Winters Mill ended the streak last year.
The girls side wasn't nearly as close. Hurd has been spectacular, already hailed as one of the state's top sprinters despite being a freshman. She didn't show any nerves in her first county meet.
"I was just trying to get all my times better and I did," Hurd said. "I just wanted to get better at everything and keep improving."
Hursey scored her points in the distance events, easily capturing the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. She also anchored the victorious 3,200 relay.
North Carroll girls coach Rob Johnson said that while Hurd and Hursey fared nicely, the Panthers don't just live off the two.
Tinsley Stokes, the defending state champion in the high jump, won that event, and North Carroll had little trouble winning all four relays - which is just what Johnson wants.
"We get a lot of points from a lot of places," Johnson said. "Our theory is to maximize the talent we have and score as many points as possible."
The Westminster and Key boys followed the same path. For Key, Brad Martz (100) and Josh Cole (shot put) each had first-place finishes, and the Eagles got wins in the 400 and 800 relays.
Westminster used wins from John Lopez (110 and 300 hurdles), Rob Kelvey (3,200), Chris Molloy (discus) and Jeff McConville (long jump). But everything came down to the final race.
The Owls trailed most of the meet but cut the Key margin to two heading into the finale.
The Westminster quartet appeared in good shape on the final lap. Mitchelltree appeared to be fading with about 200 meters left. He was fifth as the Owls stood third with about 10 yards left. But Mitchelltree surged one final time and lunged ahead of the Century runner at the finish line to take fourth. A fifth-place finish would have given Westminster the title - and Mitchelltree knew it.
"I was scared," the senior sprinter said. "I [went] with every bit of energy. I went full throttle."