For the whole season, the indoor track and field team prepared to run their best in the 4A West Regional Championship meet. The athletes didn’t disappoint, setting personal records across the board and qualifying two runners for the state championships.
The first qualifier, sophomore Erin Chelf, finished fifth but ran the automatic qualifying time, securing her first trip to the state championships. Chelf started out with a strong opening 50 meters and settled in with the second pack of runners, sitting in sixth. As the three leaders pulled away from the rest of the field, she stayed within striking range of fourth place. In the last 200 meters, Chelf turned on the jets with a 37-second last lap and edged out two competitors at the line to finish fifth. More importantly, the final time was a season-best 2:25.40, just enough to qualify for states.
“I was planning to stay with the top six because I knew they would make the qualifying time,” she said. “When I was running the last 50 meter stretch I saw my time and knew I was going to make the time so apparently I was smiling at the end of my race.”
While Chelf was expected to be in contention, junior Ambrose Devine’s states qualification shocked everyone, Devine included. Despite not qualifying for the 55-meter hurdles finals during the county championship, Devine was able to barely qualify for the finals during regionals. Seeded as the eighth and last seed in the final heat, he finished with a season-best time of 8.35 sec. Devine’s performance, along with miscues from higher seeded runners, was enough for third place and automatic qualification to states.
“I crossed the line and I really was excited because I knew I’d run a lot faster than I expected,” Devine said. “I was looking over at the board and the times were coming up and I came up as third. Coach hollered at me and I jumped up in the air and threw off my spikes.”
While the Patriot athletes peaked in the regional meet, the long jump and triple jump events, the most successful for the team, were completed earlier in the season. In January, sophomore Keith Cartwright and senior Dominic Chow put the ‘field’ back in ‘indoor track and field’ with record-breaking performances in January.
Cartwright, who broke the school’s indoor long jump record in his first-ever competition in the event, topped his original mark by an inch with a 20’ 3.75” jump in the prestigious Montgomery Invitational, ranking sixth in the event. He also came within hundredths of a second of his personal best in the 55-meter dash (6.91 sec).
Chow made history a couple days earlier, in the Montgomery Invitational. After a 19’ 10.5” long jump (9th) that ranks second in school history, Chow jumped a personal best in the triple jump by nearly an inch (42’ 5”) and captured second place.
Chelf and Devine will finish their seasons on Feb. 21 in the Maryland State Championships. The meet will prove a valuable experience and give both athletes a shot to put an exclamation point on their seasons.