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Knights have day at states

Middletown goes to the limit to win the Maryland boys Class2A-1A state indoor track championship.

Middletown goes to the limit to win the Maryland boys Class2A-1A state indoor track championship.

February 25, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

LANDOVER, Md. - Middletown senior Justin Myers woke up Monday morning without any individual state titles to call his own. He left Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex Monday night with two, while leading the Knights to the 2A-1A boys team title.

Myers held off the challenges of Clear Spring's Jeremy Everitts in the Class 2A-1A boys 1,600-meter run and Williamsport's Matt Rouse in the 3,200 to finish his prep indoor career with some long-awaited gold at the Maryland Indoor Track & Field Championships.

"It seems like I've always been second," Myers said. "I have like four seconds in my career."

The team race came down to the final event, the 1,600 relay. Middletown finished fourth when Bryce McKinney picked up a place down the final backstretch. That place, and the two points it gave the Knights, was the margin of victory, as Middletown finished with 41 points. Loch Raven finished second with 39.

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"I told the boys I like it when it comes down to the mile relay," Middletown coach Don Boyer said. "That's a man's race."

Myers led Everitts by a stride with a lap left in the 1,600, but made a move early on the backstretch that seemed to catch Everitts off guard. Myers pulled away over the final 100 meters to win in 4:37.5.

"My strategy was to take off with two laps to go," Myers said. "I could see him coming up on me, and I had to kick it back on a little."

Rouse gave Myers another duel in the 3,200. The two separated from a pack of five with 300 meters left. On the final lap, Rouse passed Myers for a moment on the backstretch, but Myers countered with a surge into the final turn Rouse couldn't match, finishing in 10:28.6.

"I was waiting for Rouse to make his move," Myers said. "I knew if I could stay with his move, I could overtake him in the end."

"He's been improving in the last three weeks," Boyer said. "He worked hard to come down where he wanted to."

Myers wasn't the only Knight to claim gold Monday. After coming up short in the 2A-1A girls 1,600 to Clear Spring's Ashley Lockard, Rocky Morgan put together a consistent effort from start to finish in winning the 3,200 in 11:54.1

"Usually when I have a bad mile, I pump it up in the 2-mile," Morgan said. "It helps a lot if you don't push the mile hard, but you don't try to do that at states. Everybody pushes."

Morgan set a steady 45-second lap pace throughout, hitting the line at 6 minutes at the halfway point and 9 minutes with a half-mile left before picking it up the final two laps. The pace broke down Poolesville's Rachel Unger and Janelle Thompson, who both faded at the halfway point.

"People tend to go out quick," Morgan said. "I wanted to go at the halfway point and break their confidence. If you're out in front, you have to keep a steady pace."

Knights Mark Gouker and David Chesney finished 1-2 in the boys pole vault, both clearing 12 feet on their first attempts. Gouker won because he didn't miss at any height before 12-6, while Chesney missed once at 11 feet.

"It's always been helpful to have Gouker to compete with and against," Chesney said. "There's still some things I need to fix, but (the state title) was definitely in my grasp."

Allison Jarkey won the girls pole vault for Middletown, clearing 10 feet to beat her nearest competitor by two feet.

North Hagerstown had two athletes finish second. Paige O'Flaherty took the silver in the high jump, clearing 5-2, and Sharnay Burnett was the runner-up in the shot put with an effort of 33-7.

Williamsport's Matt Rouse finished second in the 2A-1A boys 3,200 in 10:31.6, while the Wildcats' girls and boys 1,600-relay teams both finished second.

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