The high jump area can seem rather tame to the casual observer, but to Natiaha Hinnerichs it can be one of a track meet’s snarkiest places. Some girls spend the moments just before competition trying to get inside their opponents’ heads, reaching for a psychological edge by intimidating the competitors around them.
“They might give you a hostile look or brag about how they just got recruited,” said Hinnerichs, a junior at Holton-Arms. “They do different things to scare you. It’s such a psychological game.”
If any scare tactics were being directed at her Saturday at the Last Track to Philly in North Bethesda, they didn’t work. Hinnerichs, the top private school leaper in the Washington area, remained focused as she easily put away the high jump field with a winning leap of 5 feet 4 inches.
More than 1,000 athletes representing 65 schools from four states and the District piled inside Georgetown Prep’s Hanley Center. The meet offered several fun events that aren’t on a normal indoor program such as the distance medley relay and shuttle hurdles and served as one of the last opportunities for athletes to hit qualifying times, heights and distances necessary to get into the Penn Relays in April.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase won the girls’ team competition well ahead of Urbana and River Hill. Linganore was the boys’ winner by a smaller margin over Gilman and host Georgetown Prep.
The 5-foot-11 Hinnerichs was one of the top individual performers. The 16-year-old, who leaped a school-record 5-8 last outdoor season, took seven powerful strides to the bar before closing her eyes and soaring cleanly over the winning height. She hardly had any trouble at all with the preceding heights and stayed undefeated this season.
In an exciting boys’ mile, Georgetown Prep senior Joey Chapin was leading two other runners at the bell when Gilman’s Will Meadows came out of nowhere and shot to the lead.
Chapin didn’t flinch. He patiently stalked Meadows on the back straightaway before passing him with about 50 meters to go and winning in a meet-record 4 minutes 24.36 seconds.
Braden Bruning helped pace Linganore to the team victory. While running anchor in the 1,600 sprint medley, he brought the Frederick school from third place into first and the Lancers beat Reservoir in 3:42.70. Earlier, the Shippensburg recruit anchored his team to a runner-up finish in the distance medley. Both Gilman and Linganore broke the meet record of 10:42.79, but Gilman won in 10:34.18. The Lancers were second in 10:41.00.
The girls from B-CC got a lift from Ava Farrell — she cruised to victory in the 3,200 in a meet- record 11:18.32 — and from their winning 4x800 and distance medley relay teams.
Johvonna Mayo helped spark McKinley Tech. The junior was runner-up in the long jump and was a key contributor on the Trainers’ 4x200 relay team that edged St. John’s at the line in 1:49.22. She also helped McKinley outduel Quince Orchard in the shuttle hurdle relay in 34.02.