The Century boys' track and field team and Manchester Valley senior Abby Culp were the definition of excellence at the Maryland Class 2A-1A indoor track and field state championships.
Century easily won its second state title in three years during the Feb. 18 event at the Prince George's County Learning and Sports Center while Culp set a new state and Class 1A record with a time of 11:24.12 to win the 3,200 meter race.
The Century boys outdistanced runner-up Largo by an astounding 39 points in the Class 2A meet.
The Knights' balance was a key reason for the runaway win as seven Century athletes finished in the top four in their events while the 3,200 and 800 relay teams placed second and third.
Senior sprinter Julian Woods capped a superb season with a victory in the 55-meter hurdles, with a time of 7.56 seconds. Woods' classmate, George Rought, placed third in that event. Woods also placed third at 300 meters and fourth in the 55-meter dash.
Coach Tony Griner's Knights were also dominant in the field events. Junior Jake Stefanik won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches, just two inches higher than senior Brady Cook of Francis Scott Key, who placed third. Century junior Chandler Kennell took home the gold in the pole vault by clearing the bar at 14 feet.
"Our success boils down to one major factor: they fought as a team," Griner said in an email response. "Whether they finished first or eighth, they pushed so very hard just to earn any points. They were fighting for an effort that was bigger than each of them as an individual."
The Liberty boys also were high achievers, finishing fifth with 27 team points. The Lions' 3,200 relay team of senior Josh Carroll, senior Brett Sussman, sophomore Chad Sussman, and senior Kyle Hawkins raced to a state title. The quartet's time of 8:15.57 was nearly six seconds better than second-place Century. Liberty also placed third in the 1,600 relay.
The North Carroll boys, led by second-place finishes by its 3,200 relay team and junior Grant Dell at 1,600 meters, finished seventh in the Class 1A meet.
The defending Class 2A state champion Liberty girls' team gave Largo a run for the title, but came up four points short.
The Lions' balance enabled the reigning titlists to post five top-four individual finishes, led by sophomore Erin Patrice's second in the 55-meter dash.
Liberty sophomore Sarah Rinehart finished third in the 800. The Lions' relay teams both scored well, with the 3,200 unit of senior Brittany Arndt, senior Rachel Tokar, freshman Evelyn Zietowski, and Rinehart earning a gold medal. Liberty took third place in the 1,600 relay, while the Century girls placed third in the 800 relay.
Senior Jenny Breichner of Winters Mill and South Carroll junior Izzy Laurel earned silver medals at the Class 2A meet. Breichner finished second in the 3,200, while Laurel's high jump of 5 feet, 4inches was equal to Fallston's Lauren Woollen. But Laurel missed more jumps than Woollen, giving the title to the Fallston sophomore.
It was a good day for the North Carroll and Manchester Valley girls' teams at the Class 1A meet.
The Panthers finished fourth with 41 points, just one point ahead of the fifth-place Mavericks.
In addition to her record-setting performance in the 3,200, Manchester Valley's Culp also placed fourth in the 1,600-meter run.
North Carroll senior Valerie Mizansky won the 55-meter dash in a time of 7.46, and placed third in the 300.
Two other Carroll runners finished in the top three. North Carroll junior Haley Cianfarini placed third in the 55-meter hurdles, while sophomore Katie Leisher of Manchester Valley was third in the 1,600 and 3,200.
North Carroll's relay teams also picked up a significant number of points, placing third in the 800 and 1,600 events and fourth at 3,200 meters, just behind Manchester Valley's third-place finishers.
In Tuesday's Class 4A state meet at Landover, only one Carroll athlete posted a top-three finish.