When Mount Hebron senior Jeanette Curtis stepped onto the infield at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover after winning the Maryland 3A/2A championship in the 55-meter hurdles, Atholton senior Lindsay Grigoriev was first to greet her.
Grigoriev wrapped her arms around her competitor and congratulated her for the win. In return, Curtis asked Grigoriev how she had done earlier in the meet in the shot put.
"She said she had done fine," Curtis recalled. "I knew there was no need to ask. I know Lindsay dominates out there."
Grigoriev dominated in more than just the shot put. She set a state meet record with a throw of 42 feet 7.75 inches to win the Maryland 2A/1A title in her premier event and added a state championship in the Class 2A/1A 55 hurdles.
Curtis, who defeated Grigoriev at the Ivan Walker Howard County Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 55 hurdles, edged Aajah Showell of McDonough in a personal-best 7.90 seconds to win her second indoor hurdles title.
"Even though we are in different classes, me and Jeanette were always on the same kind of level," Grigoriev said. "Two girls out of the county winning [state hurdles titles], that's pretty special."
Grigoriev, Curtis and Hammond senior Shade' Smith have been running together on the Columbia Express track club for years, and this past summer, the trio teamed up on the Express's 4x400-meter relay team. Before meets, they warm up together. At most meets, they compete against each other.
Monday, they celebrated state championships together.
Smith set a Class 2A record in the 55 dash, finishing in a hand-timed 6.9 seconds. The electronically timed equivalent is 7.14 seconds, which eclipsed the nine-year-old Class 2A record of 7.17 by Hammond's Kisha Jett.
Together, the trio accounted for nearly half of the state championships won by Howard County athletes or relay teams.
For the first time since 1996, a Howard County team didn't win a state title, and Oakland Mills's streak of four consecutive boys' 2A/1A titles was ended.
Glenelg's girls were the closest to a team championship, finishing second for the second year in a row in Class 2A/1A, the 17th straight year in which a county team has placed first or second at the state meet.
However, there were plenty of standout performances.
Oakland Mills junior Tony Cole avenged a second-place finish in the Class 2A/1A 300 by continuing his season-long unbeaten streak in the 55, edging Brian Daniel of Forestville in 6.51 seconds.
Mount Hebron's distance squads came up big, too. Senior Matt Sanders made up 50 yards on the final leg of the Class 3A/2A 4x800 relay, and junior Darya Fakory sparked the girls' 4x800 relay as both Vikings relay teams won state titles.
Glenelg junior Drew Graybeal won the 500 title in a Class 2A/1A record 1 minute 6.30 seconds, and Mount Hebron senior Damon Gasque won his first state title in the high jump, besting River Hill junior Michael Wade and Paint Branch's Matthew Morrison because he had the fewest misses after the trio cleared 6-2.
"I couldn't have imagined this in a million years," said Gasque, the county and Class 3A/2A West Region champion who has been high jumping for less than two years. "I was joking around with my friends and said if I win a state championship, I am going to retire. I pretty much have done everything now."
Grigoriev was equally surprised by her title in the hurdles. She had beaten Curtis several times last year but was hampered by injuries during the summer, and the aspiring decathlete began working more on her throwing events instead of hurdles. She had not run a hurdle event since the summer until she was runner-up at the county meet Jan. 29.
"She kind of fell away from the hurdling a little bit and got a little discouraged," Curtis said. "I said, 'You know Lindsay, you are so strong. You can keep working at it. If you practice at anything, you can be number one at it.' She must have been working hard at it because it showed today."
The trio shared its success Monday, sitting together on a bench near the starting line for the 55 dash and hurdles, Curtis with her state title, Smith with her state record and Grigoriev with both. There were words of congratulations, but no trash-talking in this friendly rivalry.
"We are inseparable . . . but we don't brag," Smith said.