SMITHSBURG — Clad in matching orange headbands and stickers baring the initials “M.A.,” Smithburg’s track team competed in honor of fallen teammate Mitchell Akers in Saturday’s Charas Heurich Invitational.
Akers, who would have competed in the long jump, passed away Wednesday from injuries he suffered while working at Municipal Stadium.
“To say this was just another meet would be a gross misstatement,” said Leopards coach T.J. Hood. “Our whole team felt that this was a nice way to honor Mitchell’s memory. I’d like to think that Mitchell had a hand in blessing us with this nice weather and I think that he is happy that everyone came out and had a good time.”
Smithsburg’s girls finished third with 70 points behind Washington (114) and Catoctin (74).
Lauren Johnson paced the Leopards by taking second in the 3,200 in 12:19.70, while freshman Gabby Reason was third in the 200 (27.21) and anchored the 4x100 relay team (Mia Cardone, Megan Stracka and Katie Skrabak) in 57.72 to finish second.
“Gabby’s been a great runner for us despite a late start,” Hood said. “She’s got a great mentor in Mia Cardone.”
Cardone was part of the 4x200 relay team (Dominique DiLandro, Sarah Thompson and Taylor Cline) to take third place in 1:51.40.
Cline took second in the long jump with a distance of 15-6 1/2 and third in the triple jump (13-1 1/2). Gabby Slayman took second in the discus with a throw of 91-5.
“We have the attack of two Gabbys,” Hood said. “Slayman’s throw today was a personal best. She blew her previous best of 84 right out of the water.”
Smithsburg’s boys finished fifth with 56 points, well off of the pace of Jefferson (128), Stone Bridge (81), Catoctin (78) and Sherando (71).
Zane Gardenhour, however, had a monster day for the Leopards.
Gardenhour won the long jump (21-6), took second in the triple jump (42-4) and teamed Breon Hall, Brandon Athey and Chad Greene to win the 4X200 relay in 1:31.24.
“Zane either matched or beat his personal and team bests in all of his events today,” Hood said. “Zane has always been a team player. Sometimes he’ll do events he doesn’t like much just to help the team. He’s talented, dedicated, and a team guy. He’s the trifecta.”