A burst over the final 100 meters of Tuesday's 300 meter dash finals brought Caia Gelli from second place all the way to a near-facility record. (Photo by Brandon Miles)
It wasn't entirely out of nowhere. For one, Richard Montgomery junior Caia Gelli was the defending indoor state champion in the 300 meter dash. It's not like Gelli had not run fast times in the event this year, either; she had run a personal-best 39.42 at the Virginia Showcase, and had also run sub-40 at the Sportsplex to win the Montgomery County title.
However, knowing any of that did not prepare the athletes, coaches and spectators at the Sportsplex for what Gelli had in the tank for the state championship. In fact, for the first 100 or so meters of the fast section, Gelli wasn't even in the lead, as Bowie's Dianna Koger (who had run faster than Gelli at the Baltimore Armory) raced out of the blocks.
However, the second half of Tuesday's race will be one that anyone in attendance take with them for years to come. Gelli didn't just shoot into the lead: she blew everyone completely out of the water. Her final time of 38.89 elicited gasps from the stands, who didn't need to be told just how rare a sub-39 performance is at the Sportsplex. In fact, it was just a few hundredths of a second off of Aurieyall Scott's 38.83 record that is both the fastest time ever clocked at the state meet and the facility record in the event.
As rare as a sub-39 time at the Sportsplex may be, it's incredibly the second time it's happened in the past week, and the third in the past year. On Monday, Harford Tech's Caitlyn Bobb ran 38.93 to destroy the 2A state meet record and come close to Scott's facility record as well (video). Last year, Georgetown Day's (DC) Ziyah Holman ran 38.85 at the DCSAA state championship (video).
Gelli's performance wasn't her only state championship run of the evening. She came back later in the meet and ran a leadoff leg on the Rockets' victorious 4x200 (although it was ultimately DQ'd). The Richard Montgomery girls finished third in the team scores with 32 points.