The Chopticon boys are one of a few teams that could shatter the distance medley relay meet record on Saturday. (Photo by Craig Amoss)
This year's Howard County Winter Festival looks to feature one of the best all-around fields in the meet's extensive history. After three meet records were set last year (boys 800, 3200 and triple jump), there could be even more history waiting to be made on Saturday at the PG Sportsplex. Let's preview some of the meet records that have the best chances of falling.
Girls 300 Meter Dash
Current Record: 40.29 (Cameron Hinton, Franklin, 2016)
Mount de Sales senior Bella Whittaker won the 500 meter dash at last year's meet and is entered in both races this year. Aside from the fact that the 300 takes place first, Whittaker has also run times in the event (39.36 personal best on the PG Sportsplex track) faster than the current meet record. She kicked off last indoor season with a 40.26 performance, so even if she isn't up at top speed to begin this year she will still have a shot at the record.
Boys 800 Meter Run
Current Record: 1:55.62 (Kyle Lund, Oakdale, 2018)
Who better to break the meet record than the current meet record holder? Lund ran 1:55.62 in a runaway performance at last year's meet, one that ended up being his fastest time in the event all the way through the state meet before running 1:54 at indoor nationals. Also entered is Dover's Nathanael Guy - last year's third place finisher - who also ran 1:53.05 last spring.
Girls Distance Medley
Current Record: 12:48.50 (George C. Marshall, 2016)
Based on the meet entries it appears that Howard, Georgetown Visitation and Walter Johnson will be running pretty close to 'A' teams. If that is the case, 12:48 is certainly doable. Considering these splits: 4:05 1200, 63 400, 2:25 800, 5:15 1600 add up to 12:48, it wouldn't be anywhere near a surprise if Howard or Walter Johnson's A squads, likely featuring runners such as Amanda Eliker, Jenna Goldberg, Ella Gaul, Sara Kindbom and Nimrit Ahuja, could easily take down this meet record.
Boys 3200 Meter Run
Current Record: 9:30.22 (Sam Keeny, South River, 2018)
Did the boys who set meet records last year just not run fast enough? Rather, both the 800 and 3200 feature strong fields this year that have good chances of challenging the current meet records. Gonzaga's Gavin McElhennon is the top seed and has run a 9:25 full two mile, but it may be River Hill's Anish Nanjappa who has a better chance of taking this meet record down. As dominant as he was on the course this year, it's not hard to see him slashing some big time off his current 3200 personal best (9:32).
Girls Pole Vault
Current Record: 10'6 (Gwen Zeckowski, South River, 2016)
How many times does one single team have three athletes with a chance to break the meet record? We detailed Hereford's returning strength in the pole vault heading into the season and Saturday may be their first chance to showcase that strength on a big stage. Courtney Butz and Elizabeth Schriver have already cleared 11 feet this season (the only girls in Maryland to have done so) and Vita Shats cleared 10'9 last spring as a sophomore.
All Boys Relays
Current Records: 1:31.01 (Glasgow, 2007); 3:29.13 (Good Counsel, 2011); 8:16.27 (Oxon Hill, 2016); 10:54.03 (River Hill, 2013)
No, this isn't a cop-out. All four relay records are in serious danger this year as the relay fields look very strong heading into Saturday's meet. The 4x800 is first and may be in the most danger of them all. Last year's 2A state champions from Oakdale are entered at 8:05, which means Kyle Lund and the rest of their 'A' team (three of their four runners from last year's team are back) are likely running. Chopticon is also entered, and the defending indoor and outdoor 3A state champions could certainly put together a sub-8:10 team if so inclined.
The boys distance medley could be an absolute classic. South River will potentially have Sam Keeny on the anchor, River Hill (entered at a blazing 10:30) will likely have Anish Nanjappa, and the Chopticon boys have three stud legs in Dylan McMahan and the Wedding brothers. A 3:20 1200, 55 second 400, 2:05 800 and 4:30 1600 - all fairly conservative times - would essentially tie the meet record.
The sprint relay records may be a bit harder to break, but there is certainly some potential. The Bowie boys ran 1:31.98 on Thursday to win the PG Relays and currently hold the MD #1 time. Both Milford Mill and Reservoir always have deep sprint squads that currently take up a lot of space on the individual leaderboards.
The 4x400 is always unpredictable being at the end of the meet, but 3:29 should be within reach for at least a few teams. Both Milford Mill and Howard, notably, usually have enough depth to field strong relay teams at the end of meets.