La Plata junior Robert Watley sprinted to a first-place finish in the 300 meters in a career-best 35.01 seconds, 0.93 of a second ahead of Reservoir's Quentin James, at yesterday's Maryland 3A/2A indoor track and field championships at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in Landover.
La Plata's boys were eight points ahead of Middletown after 10 of the 13 events, but Middletown had a second-place finish in the high jump and a first- and second-place finish in the pole vault to end up tied at 35 points. It marked the first tie for the championship since 1981.
La Plata Coach Richard Williams appealed the 55-meter hurdles and 3,200-meter run to tournament officials, saying his team actually scored 40 points. He was denied, leaving La Plata and Middletown as co-state champions.
Middletown's boys also won the state championship in 2003. It was La Plata's first indoor state boys' championship, so as Williams said, the team was happy on the inside. But Watley said he was crying after a coin toss gave the trophy to Middletown.
"To come this close and tie, it's kind of weird," Watley said. "To know one thing would have pushed us over, it's frustrating. At least we thought we'd get the trophy."
North Carroll won the girls' competition with 50 points, and Largo and Annapolis tied for second with 34 points. Annapolis was paced by juniors Jessica Tongue and Torrie Saunders, who took first and second in the 55-meter dash.
Both girls played basketball before this season, but Coach Charles Gross persuaded them to join the indoor track team. Tongue remembered waking up at 7:30 Saturday mornings for practice with Gross.
"I would think I really don't want to go," Tongue said. "It was so cold outside and having to run two warmup laps, it wasn't fun, but it was worth it at the end."
Huntingtown juniors Zach Ray and TJ Ricchiuto also took first and second, respectively, in the 55-meter hurdles, and Friendly junior Lamaar Thomas set a 3A class record in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.41 seconds, 0.6 ahead of La Plata's Watley, before heading off to a state championship football banquet.
3A Indoor Track and Field
Other Winners: Potomac senior Stacy Adams won the boys' shot put, and Largo senior Joanne Coley won the girls' shot. Atholton sophomore Graham Bazell won the boys' 3,200-meter run. Duval's boys (Chris Smith, Ola Komolafe, Daniel Narh and Tim Butler) won the 4x200 meter relay. Potomac's boys (Jimmy Harper, Paul Kelly, Jordan Porter, Antonio Wallace) won the 4x400 meter relay. Urbana's boys (Ellery Murdock, Danny Mulhern, Nick Huang and Nick Stine) won the 4x800 meter relay.