Emma King is either courageous or crazy. A couple of times every week, she entrusts life and limb to the end of a pole.
Sometimes the risk is painful — King injured her hip last year and it cost her the whole outdoor season — but Monday at the Maryland 1A/2A indoor track and field championships was sheer bliss. The Oakdale junior won the 2A pole vault by clearing a height of 11 feet 91 / 2 inches, breaking a decade-old state meet record at Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover.
“I’m definitely not fearless,” King said with a laugh. “There’s a lot of fear in it, but you have to ignore it.”
Douglass wasn’t to be ignored. The Eagles finished tied for 16th last year but leapfrogged everyone to capture the boys’ 2A team title, their first in school history. Walkersville and Francis Scott Key followed.
Liberty won the girls’ 2A title, nearly doubling up on runner-up Largo. Douglass was third.
No area 1A boys’ or girls’ teams reached the podium. Smithsburg was the boys’ team title and Boonsboro captured the girls’.
King defended her state title from last year but was so much more dominant this time around. She entered the competition at 10-6 — six of the eight girls had already been eliminated before the bar was raised that high — and won by more than a foot.
King, who already had a 12-3 clearance this winter, the overall state record, went after 12-2, but missed on all three attempts. On the last two she barely brushed the bar.
“The bad thing about the pole vault is you always end on a miss,” King, an All-Met pick last year, said. “There’s always some disappointment. I think my form is terrible right now, so I still have a lot to do. I’m nowhere near stopping.”
Fairmont Heights senior Pierrysen Henry nearly was almost stopped dead in his tracks because of pain, but overcame an oblique injury he suffered during the competition to capture his first 1A shot put title. He was in second place after five throws, but on his last one produced the winning toss of 53-31 / 2, a personal best.
“It wasn’t a good throw, but I put that oomph into it,” Henry said while squeezing his right hand into a fist.
Kyle Smith was key for Douglass. The senior put away the hurdles field in 7.64 seconds and won the high jump with 6-0 before contributing on the Eagles’ winning 4x200 (1:32.00) and 4x400 (3:29.66) relay teams.
Largo swept the girls’ relays, winning the 4x400 in 4:03.50 and the 4x800 in 9:50.53.
De’Vonni Farrar was on both of them and in between placed second in the 500 in a personal-best 1:18.46.
“It was hard because I was going through some pain with my legs,” Farrar said. “I pushed through because I really wanted us to win.”