After back-to-back runner-up finishes in the long jump as a sophomore and junior, Asha Taitt seemed poised to take her spot atop the 3A podium this year. Her best mark this past winter was the second-best in the entire state of Maryland. (Photo by John Roemer)
Meet Records in Jeopardy
300 Meter Hurdles
Set all the way back in 1982, the 3A girls 300 meter hurdle state record is one of the longest-standing in the book. All five of the top finishers in last year's race were underclassmen, including champion Jasmine Johnson of Franklin and Adaobi Tabugbo. Neither ran their personal best at the state meet - Tabugbo owns the faster personal best at 44.04, just six tenths of a second off the state meet record. Both girls were back on top of their game this winter, as Tabugbo won the 55 meter hurdles title and Johnson was the 500 meter champion. With another chance at going under 44 seconds at the state meet, they could have potentially knocked off the nearly-40-year-old record.
Franklin's Olivia Gruver holds both the 3A indoor and outdoor state meet records in the event, but her indoor record (13'4) is a much tougher sell than her outdoor record (12'0). In fact, Hereford's Elizabeth Schriver (this year's indoor state champion) cleared 12 feet at the 3A Central regional meet. The last girl to clear 12 feet in the pole vault at the outdoor state meet was Oakdale's Jackie McNulty back in 2015 when she set the all-classification state meet record; could Schriver have ended the four-year drought and claimed at least a share of the pole vault title?
The Best Matchups
400 Meter Dash
Last year's 3A state championship race went down to the wire between the aforementioned Johnson and Mount Hebron's Satori Valentine. Valentine ended up beating Johnson by just six hundredths of a second (and then went on to win the 800, as well). Johnson returned this indoor season and beat Valentine's teammate, Sierrah Matthews, in the 500 meter dash in a race that featured a photo-finish; Matthews was the fourth-place finisher in the 400 last spring, as well. Three state champions (Matthews was the 300-meter champion this winter) with a history of close races, plus Valentine's return back to the track after earning county player of the year honors in basketball over the winter, would have made for an intriguing story to follow from the beginning of the season through states.
4x200 Meter Relay
After a 2019 year during which the 4x200 relay at 3A states was a race to see who could finish closest to the Blake girls, no team established dominance this past winter. On the season, five different 3A teams ran between 1:45.22 (Mount Hebron) and 1:45.73 (Oxon Hill). The state meet race was equally exciting as Reservoir held off Franklin by just three hundredths of a second for the relay title. The Mount Hebron girls were easily the second-best team in 3A last spring and would have had the benefit of some returning star power this spring, but would they have chosen to stack their 4x200 relay? Would any of the other teams have broken out in the spring and worked their way down into the low 1:40s?
100 Meter Dash
River Hill sophomore Janasia Buckner swept her way through counties, regionals and states this indoor season and won her first title in the 55 meter dash. The indoor runner-up, Oxon Hill's Savannah Wright, was the top returning 3A girl in the 100 meter dash, both by overall 2019 season best and 2019 state meet performance. Wright also held the top 3A time in the event (7.22) this past indoor season until Buckner ran 7.21 at the state meet.
The 3A girls pole vault at this year's indoor state meet proved to be one of the most important events of the entire season. In one of the last events of the meet the Hereford girls went 1-2-4, scoring 23 points to shoot to the top of the 3A team standings and win the state title. Assuming the Bulls would once again be within reach of a team title, they would likely be in position to rack up plenty of points in the same way they did during the winter. The added bonus would be a state meet record watch (mentioned above), plus the emergence of Atholton's Madison Garrigus as a title contender. She finished second at last year's outdoor state meet (when Hereford competed in 2A) and third at this year's indoor state meet, although her season best performance of 11 feet tied her with Courtney Butz for second-best in 3A.
Who Missed Out?
Which girls missed opportunities to win state titles before graduation?
Shantia Creek-Barrett, North Point
Katie Devilbiss, Westminster
Kosie Nkwonta, North Hagerstown
The trio of seniors went back-and-forth all season atop the 3A shot put leaderboard, but in the end it was Creek-Barrett's junior teammate, Mekhya Jones, who won the state title. All three girls had come close before; Creek-Barrett was a two-time runner-up in the 4A classification, Devilbiss finished second at this winter's meet and held the top 3A mark on the season, and Nkwonta finished third both this winter and last spring. Creek-Barrett and Devilbiss were also two of the top returning 3A girls in the discus, another event which featured plenty of competition but no true favorite heading into the spring.
Asha Taitt, Reservoir
Last spring, Taitt finished as the 3A state runner-up in the long jump for the second year in a row. She would have almost certainly won a state title in the event this winter had it been contested: her 18'6.75 personal best from the Howard County Winter Festival was nearly a foot longer than the next-best 3A mark, and second to only Bullis' Naiyae Evans in the state of Maryland. She would have easily been the 3A favorite entering the spring in the event.