Throughout the first two seasons of the 2019-20 school year, the distance side of the 1A girls classification was dominated by surprising newcomers, like Smithsburg's Daylie Younker (left) and ACCE's Esmeralda Romero. (Photo by Craig Amoss)
Meet Records in Jeopardy
Much of the 1A outdoor state meet records would have likely gone unchallenged this year, but the discus record would have been in trouble - and it nearly fell last year. Fort Hill's Ryann Bennett won her first state title last year in the event, coming within 10 feet of the almost 40-year-old record. Not only did she win her first state title, but the next week, she won the event at Big A's Last Chance Throws Meet, throwing a personal best 137'9 - just a few inches shy of the outdoor state meet record. Although robbed of a chance to break the record this year, Bennett may have another crack as a senior in 2021.
The Best Matchups
200 Meter Dash
As a freshman Diamond Richardson was the outdoor state meet runner-up in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes. After winning her first title in the 55 this past winter she might have seem like the obvious favorite in the sprints, but a fellow PG County sprinter moved down to 1A and won two state titles of her own this past indoor season. Central's Chandler Ransome was dominant in winning the 300 and 500 meter titles this winter and the two likely would have faced off in at least the middle event at the outdoor state meet.
800 and 1600 Meter Runs
How about another matchup between Catoctin's Emma Strickland (3x state champion, including this year's indoor meet) and Bohemia Manor's Brooke Walz (4x state champion, including last spring's meet). Walz won this year's indoor 1600 title but Strickland came back later in the meet (after running the 500) and surprisingly ran away with her third straight indoor 800 victory.
The closest race of the 1A girls indoor state meet was the 1600 race between Walz and Brunswick's Michelle Cincotta. Both girls came right back off the 4x800 relay, and in a race that went right down to the wire, Walz edged Cincotta by five hundredths of a second to defend her indoor 1600 title.
Last year's 1A state champion, Perryville's Ellie Kuhn, was the only 1A girl to reach double digit feet in the pole vault. This indoor season, juniors Leah Clark and Jena Rhodes tied atop the indoor rankings in the event at 8'8. Both won their respective regional meets, while Rhodes won the state title by clearing 8'8 on her first attempt (neither Clark nor Snow Hill's Erin Lambertson cleared the height). Would one of the three juniors have emerged as the favorite by the time states rolled around in late May?
Does it count if the top two contenders are on the same team? Largo seniors Sade Panton and Sierra James went back-and-forth all winter as the top two shot putters in the 1A classification. Panton eventually emerged as the best in 1A, winning county, regional and state titles. The two Largo girls were the only ones in 1A to throw better than 38 feet - no other girl threw better than Ryann Bennett's 36'4.50. Bennett finished between the two at the indoor state meet, and perhaps this turns into a three-person battle for the top spot on the 1A leaderboard throughout the spring.
Who Missed Out?
Which girls missed opportunities to win state titles before graduation?
Sheri Adewumi, Western Tech
Over the past year, Adewumi has become one of the top jumpers in the 1A classification. She qualified for states for the first time last spring, winning a regional title in the long jump. At the state meet she finished second in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump, and was the top returner in both events. Adewumi finished fifth once again this past winter in the high jump, but her strength would have been in the horizontal jumps during the spring.
Tia DeGiovanni, Southern Garrett
Like Adewumi, DeGiovanni was a returning senior who scored in both horizontal jumps last year at the state meet. She finished sixth in both the long and triple jumps, and owned the second-best returning mark in 1A in the latter behind only Adewumi. Unlike her Western Tech counterpart, however, DeGiovanni didn't have an indoor season this year to take another crack at states (although it might not have mattered without horizontal jumps).
Esmeralda Romero, ACCE
Romero burst onto the scene this fall as one of the best runners in the 1A classification. After clocking personal bests of 6:23 and 14:11 as a junior, Romero was Baltimore City's top runner this past fall, winning both city and regional titles. She backed it up with a third-place finish at the 1A state meet, and took those improvements back to the track this winter. Romero finished third in the 1600 at the state meet, but was a true contender in the 3200, where she challenged XC state champion Daylie Younker in the 3200, eventually finishing second. Given her upward trajectory, Romero could have become the top distance runner in 1A in the spring.