Northwestern All-Met senior James Graham says there is one difference between his hurdles events and the open 400 meters.
He is a lot more focused.
Graham showed extreme concentration over the 300 hurdles where he set a Maryland state record by almost a second -- in 36.51 seconds. He also ran a 46.7 anchor leg on the record-breaking 4x400 relay at the three-day Maryland outdoor track championships today on the University of Maryland-Baltimore County campus.
"I just ran relaxed and strong and kept my lead leg to the outside of the hurdle," said Graham, who also won the 110 hurdles and 400, and anchored the winning 4x400 relay team. "I used to jump in the middle of the hurdle and I used to wobble [when I planted]."
Graham's efforts led the Hyattsville school to its first 4A state boys team title. The Wildcats finished with 94 points. Eleanor Roosevelt placed second with 72 points.
Graham, a senior who has verbally committed to Georgetown, was hampered by a strained left quadriceps last season and individually only won the 300 hurdles.
"I would have been [at this level] last year, if I was not hurt," Graham said.
The old 300 hurdles record of 37.33 was set last year by current Woodlawn senior Joel Brown.
Northwestern's 4x400 relay team (Robert Wingate-Robinson, Dwayne Thomas, Ali Najjar, Graham) ran a time of 3 minutes 12.05 seconds to break High Point's record of 3:15.48 set in 1997.
Eleanor Roosevelt junior All-Met Allen Simms led the Greenbelt school with victories in the long jump (24 feet 1/2 inch) and triple jump (48-7).
In the girls events, Eleanor Roosevelt's 3A team won its eighth team title in nine years, defeating Western, 89-64. All-Met senior Jessica DeFreitas led the Raiders with victories in the 100 (11.8), the triple jump (39-9) and the long jump (19-2 1/2).
Douglass won its third straight 2A title. Senior Andrea Pressley captured the 100 hurdles (14.82), 400 (56.68) and 200 (24.93) to pace the Eagles, who finished with 91 points.
Junior Gonzie Gray won the 200 (21.92) to lead Westlake to its first boys 3A title, 71-66, over Woodlawn.
In the girls 1A events, Central senior LaKisha Barnaby won the 110 hurdles (14.42), 100 (11.99), 300 hurdles (44.15) and ran a leg on the winning 4x200 relay team (1:42.51). But Barnaby's efforts were not enough. Long Reach of Columbia, led by All-Met junior Teyarnte Carter who won the 400 (55.92), 200 (24.74) and ran a leg on the winning 4x100 relay, collected the championship for the second straight year, 106-74, over Central.
In the boys 1A events, Oakland Mills All-Met sophomore Kyle Farmer set state records in the 400 (48.85) and 200 (21.51). His efforts led the Scorpions to a second-place finish with 67 points. Farmer also won the 100 (10.83) and the long jump (21-8 3/4).
Springbrook's Chris Stark set a state record in the pole vault with a mark of 15-1 in the 4A event. The old record was established by Old Mill's Matt Garvin (15- 1/2) in 1988.
Thomas Stone (3A) senior Tim Bilmanis broke the oldest state meet record in the discus with a throw of 185-8. The old record of 184-10 was set by Tom Brosius of Springbrook in 1968.
Notes: South Carroll (3A) senior Pun Chittchang broke the long jump record by three inches, winning in 22-1 1/2. The old record was set by Valerie Williams of Frederick in 1996 at 19-10 1/2.
CAPTION: Jessica DeFreitas of E. Roosevelt runs to victory in the 100. She also won triple and long jumps.