Wilde Lake's Dane Randolph knew his time to win a county title during his senior year was running out when he stepped inside the thrower's circle at the Howard County outdoor track and field championships at Reservoir last Thursday.
He thought about how close he'd come this year in two sports as he starred straight ahead, clutching the discus in his right hand, knowing his Wildecats were tied with Oakland Mills atop the team standings entering the final event.
He remembered how it felt to have the county title taken away from his football team after the squad forfeited five victories for using an ineligible player. A few months later, Randolph and the Wilde Lake basketball team were in contention to win the county championship, only to falter down the stretch of the season and finish tied for third.
"I'd been close all year, and I wasn't going to let another one get away," said Randolph, who will play football for the University of Maryland this fall. "I threw it as hard as I could and hoped it would be good enough."
It was. Randolph's throw of 132 feet 7 inches earned him second place behind Long Reach's Christopher Marable, but more important, it lifted the Wildecats to the county title with 87.5 points, six ahead of second-place Oakland Mills. Centennial placed third with 75 points, followed by Long Reach (65) and Mount Hebron (64).
"Now I don't have to worry about winning a county title this year," said Randolph, who also placed second in the shot put with a throw of 48-61/4. "Now the only question is if we can win a state title."
Wilde Lake -- along with the county's 10 other schools -- now turns to regional meets. The 3A East and 2A South meets begin today at Reservoir at 3:30, concluding with final heats at 10 a.m. Saturday. Oakland Mills, the county's lone 1A school, will compete in the 1A South Meet at Catonsville at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The top four finishers in each event qualify for the state meet next Thursday through May 29 at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
River Hill's Michael Wade and Nick Keane accounted for five county titles and 50 of the Hawks' 54 points. Wade won county titles in the high jump (6-2), long jump (21-5 1/2) and triple jump (43-6), and Keane posted victories in the 1,600-meter run (4 minutes 34.89 seconds) and the 3,200-meter run (10:08.77).
Oakland Mills almost earned its second county title in three years, despite not having its best runner, senior sprinter Tony Cole. The All-Met athlete of the year during the indoor season was sidelined with a hamstring injury but said he will compete at the 1A South Region meet Saturday.
The absence of Cole, the two-time defending county champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, opened the door for Wilde Lake's Raymond Parrott, who won both events in 11.51 and 23.05, setting the stage for Randolph.
"Give Wilde Lake credit -- they did what they needed to do to win. And even without Tony, I'm proud of the way we ran," said Oakland Mills Coach Bryan Winfield, who was especially pleased with senior Karlton McCollough, who won the 400-meter dash in 48.93, finishing just ahead of Glenelg All-Met Drew Graybeal.
Though Wilde Lake won its first boys' county title in outdoor track in three years, the Long Reach girls continued their dominance by winning their seventh consecutive county title with 107 points, finishing ahead of Glenelg (96 points), River Hill (71), Reservoir (70) and Atholton (59).
Long Reach's Timisha Gomez had the best performance on the girls' side, as the senior won county titles in 100-meter high hurdles (14.9), 300-meter intermediate hurdles (45.68) and the triple jump (36-81/4).
"My goal coming in was to win all of my events, so it feels good to accomplish that," said Gomez, who will play basketball for Saint Joseph's next year. "Our team was really focused because we knew we had to keep our streak of winning the county championship going."
Long Reach's Tiffani Long and Alyce Harrell posted victories in the long jump (18-3/4) and discus (118-3), and the team of Brittany Taylor, JaNay Woolridge, Jamese Cobb and Long won the 800-meter relay in 1:46.55.
Atholton's Alison Smith and River Hill's Kandace Ramseur won two county titles apiece. Smith won the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs in 5:18 and 11:56.42, and Ramseur won the 100- and 200-meter dashes in 13 and 26.42, respectively.