BALTIMORE — Finally, Coby Gussio has his elusive state gold medal.
The Boonsboro senior won the Class 1A boys long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 5 1/2 inches Thursday in the first day of action at the Maryland State Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Morgan State University.
It was the first state title ever won by Gussio, who had been haunted by near misses at states, outdoors and indoors. He owns five silver medals, three bronzes and now one gold.
“Finally, I have a gold. I wanted one so bad before I graduated,” said Gussio, who will compete in the 100- and 400-meter dashes and 4x400 relay Saturday. “I didn’t care what it was in. I just wanted to be a state champion. It feels so good.
“Now I have three more chances to get another one.”
Two other Washington County athletes won Class 1A boys titles Thursday — Williamsport junior Evan Hardy in the 3,200 and Boonsboro junior J.R. Lowery in the shot put.
Hardy ran a half-stride behind Allegany’s Ian MacFawn — last fall’s state cross country champ — for 2,900 meters and then blasted away from him the last 300.
“When I passed him, I passed him with authority,” Hardy said. “I just went — and it went well.”
Hardy finished in a personal-best time of 9:41.39, while MacFawn was second in 9:46.49.
“That was a weird 2-mile race,” Hardy said. “I was thinking a lot more than I usually do. Usually, I just run. But I was nervous the entire way. I told myself to just stick with him as long as I could and then try to outkick him.”
Lowery unleashed his winning throw of 53 feet, 1 3/4 inches on his first of six attempts.
“After throwing that 53, I thought I could get more,” said Lowery, who still prevailed by nearly a foot. “I’m happy I got gold, but I really wasn’t pleased with my performance. I really wanted to break my school record (56-1 1/2 from last week’s West region meet) and get the county record (57-10 1/2). But it is what it is.”
Several other county athletes captured medals for top-three finishes.
Smithsburg senior Jonelle Jerwick placed second in the pole vault at 11 feet, equaling the all-time Tri-State record in the event that she set at states last spring, when she also finished second. She’s also a two-time state runner-up in the pole vault indoors, as the gold eluded her in her career.
“It’s my senior year. I really wanted to get first, you know,” she said. “It’s OK, though.”
North Hagerstown senior Anthony Winter placed third in the Class 2A boys shot put (48-0 1/2) and teamed with Zach Schreiber, Matt Toth and Aaron Waters to place second in the 4x200 relay (1:30.14).
Winter will try again for his first career outdoor state title Saturday in the 100 — the event he set the county record in earlier this month (10.67).
“One more event, and it’s my favorite one,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, though. I’ve got to come ready.”
Also for the North boys, Olympic Johnson placed third in the high jump (6-2).
For the North girls in 2A, Beth Wagner, Imani Carter, Christine Randall and Corie Anderson placed second in the 4x200 (1:43.89) and Raven Jackson finished third in the triple jump (37-3 1/2).
The Boonsboro girls got a silver medal from Becky Young in the discus (108-1) and a bronze from Sarah Zielinski in the 3,200 (11:49.37).
Through six of 18 events, the Boonsboro girls, in search of their first state team title in six years, have a one-point lead over Harford Tech, 32-31.
“We came here and did what we wanted to do,” Boonsboro coach Becky Walter said. “It’s still early, but things are looking pretty good.”
The Boonsboro boys, who also got a third-place finish from Kenny Kopp in the high jump (6-2), also are in first place through six events with a two-point lead over Williamsport, 30-28.
Before his title run in the 3,200, Hardy teamed with Nate Willis, Cody Gardenhour and Cody Grams to place second in the 4x800 (8:12.92).
Williamsport placed third in the girls 4x800, as Kaelii Stout, Casey Arnone, Julia Price and Renee Barnes combined to run 10:01.29.
The championships begin today for classes 3A and 4A and conclude Saturday with all four classes.