La Plata junior Tyler Baumler scored points in all four events he ran at Saturday's Southern Maryland Athletic Conference indoor track championships, but his contribution to the victorious 4x800 relay held special significance.
The relay team (Baumler, Travis Wray, Jason Stalter and David Anderson) not only helped the Warriors lock up their second SMAC championship in three years, but its time of 8 minutes 31 seconds also took 10 seconds off the meet record.
That record was set by a La Plata team that included Baumler's older brother Chris, who graduated last year. Although Chris was running a meet at Penn State on Saturday, Tyler made sure to call him after the race and rub it in.
"He didn't think we'd broken the record. He was like, 'No way,' but I said I had the proof right here," said Baumler, who qualified for last year's state championship in the 3,200 and the 4x800 relay with Stalter, Anderson and Ed May.
Baumler's day characterized Coach Richard Williams's strategy of toughing out points in each event. Junior newcomer Wray was the team's only other winner, dominating in the 3,200 (10:08). But La Plata runners placed in 10 of the 12 events and had multiple point-winners in three of those.
Baumler finished third in the 1,600 (4:52.40), sixth in the 800 (2:13.20) and sixth in the 3,200 (10:53).
"We basically sit down and ask the guys what they want to run, and then we fill in for whatever's left," Baumler said. "I got stuck with four events, but I didn't think I was going to get points in all of them. Going into the 800 I could feel it, I was definitely hurting after the two-mile -- it was tough, but it was good."
Anderson and Stalter finished third (2:07.50) and fourth (2:10.10), respectively, ahead of Baumler in the 800 to give the Warriors 11 points -- their team's exact winning margin over runner-up Northern. Anderson, a sophomore, also finished fourth in the 500.
"I've been on a couple championship teams with cross-country, but this is one I feel we really earned," Stalter said. "We all came together. Coach told us a month ago we could win it. We all had our doubts with each other, but he was right."
Wray finished second in last week's Calvert County Invitational, but he was still unheralded coming into the SMAC championship against cross-country standouts Ryan Murphy of Northern, Brian Isleib of Leonardtown and Paul Travers of Patuxent (second, third and fourth, respectively).
Wray is on the team only because Baumler, his teammate on the La Plata soccer team, kept dogging him to run. Now Wray appears ready to qualify for the state championship at Thursday's 3A-2A East regional meet.
"He was reluctant to come out for the team, but he finally succumbed to Tyler's encouragement," Williams said. "I'm grateful to Tyler for staying consistent with him."
La Plata also got significant contributions from senior Kelli Sampson (third in the 55 hurdles, fourth in the 55 dash and anchor on the runner-up 4x200 relay) and senior Chad Floeck (second in the 300 and lead leg on both the 4x200 and runner-up 4x400 relays). McDonough senior Dean Lee was the only boys' double winner, clocking 35.60 in the 300 and 1:07.80 in the 500.
Westlake won the girls' championship 81-66 over McDonough by placing multiple point-winners in four events, winning both the 4x200 (1:50.70) and 4x400 (4:17.60) relays and finishing second in the 4x800 relay.
Westlake junior Ashley Owen entered the 800 knowing she and junior teammate Jeanna LeClaire would have to place in the top four for the team to win the meet, meaning she would have to run better than her uncharacteristic fifth place in the 1,600. Owen delivered, winning in 2:28.30, and LeClaire edged into fourth (2:38.40).
"Oh, I can't remember the last time I was that nervous," Owen said. "My mile had stunk, I got beat really bad, but once I got out there I felt like myself again."
She then sealed the Wolverines' victory by running the 4x400 with Joanna Collins, Kathryn Carter and Kaneeka Ingram.
Westlake junior Jaquay Evans won the 55 dash (7.54) ahead of freshman teammate Nakia Allen (7.64), and the two combined with Ingram and Carter on the 4x200.
"We're blessed with sprinters, and we went out there with the attitude that we knew we could do it," Coach Beth Shook said. "You never know what others have, and no one else was expecting us to have Nakia step up like that."
Leonardtown senior Kelly Ennis doubled in the 300 (41.10) and 500 (1:22.20), McDonough senior Aajah Showell claimed the high jump (5 feet 3 inches) and 55 hurdles (8.54), and Patuxent senior Susan Hendrick won the 1,600 (5:21) and 3,200 (12:13) before anchoring the victorious 4x800 relay (10:26).