BALTIMORE — Isiah Bolden took off and soared. Once the Colonel Richardson High junior landed, he had a lead he never relinquished.
Jessica Narr needed over 3,000 meters before she got her first lead Thursday at Morgan State University’s Hughes Stadium. Once the Cambridge-South Dorchester senior moved into first place on the final turn, she maintained a renewed energy tapped on the backstretch and didn’t allow anyone to get close to the only title that has eluded her — that of state champ.
Narr produced a huge rally to win the girls’ 3,200 meters before Bolden went virtually wire-to-wire en route to winning the boys’ long jump title on the first day of the Class 1A state track and field championships.
“Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it up at first,” said Narr, who after staying off the right shoulder of Manchester Valley’s Katie Leisher for the first three laps, watched the front-runner open a seemingly comfortable lead over laps four and five. “I tried not to let my mental guard down because that is what I usually do.
“Those two middle laps, I don’t know what was really going on,” Narr continued. “And then around that last corner (at the midway point) my coach (assistant Sean Reincke) was like, ‘You got four years, four laps.’ And I don’t know why but it stuck with me.”
The girls’ 3,200 may have been run when temperatures were at their highest yesterday. Leisher, who passed Narr on the way to winning the 1A state cross country title in November, looked in command as she steadily widened her gap through the middle laps. But as the bell lap sounded, Leisher’s pace began to slow.
Narr, still running with Reincke’s words, then heard the cries of another one of her coaches, Krissy Jost — positioned on the backstrech — telling her Leisher was within reach.
“I heard (Reincke) and I was like, ‘You know, maybe,’” Narr said. “But she was pulling ahead. And then all of a sudden I came around lap seven and it looked like she was coming back to me. I was over there and my coach, Kris Jost, she was going crazy, and I couldn’t figure out why, ‘cause this girl was a head of me by a lot.
“Then I looked up and was like, ‘Oh, she’s not as far as I thought she was,” Narr added.
Leisher had a lead of about 70 meters when Narr started her kick, passed the Manchester Valley junior on the last turn and came into the final straightaway alone with only the tiring Leisher close to her. Narr finished strong, tried to smile, then covered her mouth while trying to control her emotions after securing her first state title in 11 minutes, 33.67 seconds.
Leisher struggled to the finish line, placing second before collapsing. Manchester Valley coaches said Leisher was fine about 45 minutes afterwards.
“I came around the back corner and I heard everyone cheering,” Narr said. “I didn’t want any regrets. I’m a senior and there’s so much you can regret in a single race. I’ve learned it the hard way. She beat me in cross country. So for me it was kind of my chance to make up for it.
“I’ve never had this feeling,” said Narr with a beaming smile. “It’s indescribable. I still can’t believe it. My mind’s like, ‘Did that really happen? Did I really just win the state championship?”
Bound for the U.S. Naval Academy, Narr wasn’t the only one trying to grasp the state-title.
“I was overwhelmed,” said Jessica’s mother, Lois Narr, Cambridge-SD’s head coach. “I was crying, screaming, happy. Nobody’s worked harder than her.
“It was like being in a dream,” Lois Narr continued. “The first part was like being in a dream, too, because I thought (she was running to plan). But then when she started to lose ground it started to look a little nightmarish there for a few minutes. And then ... it was unbelievable. Unbelievable.”
Narr will run the 800 and 1,600 meters on Saturday.
Few people on Colonel Richardson’s team have worked harder than Bolden this year. After not placing as a freshman, Bolden finished in eighth place in the long jump a year ago. But the junior has steadily added length this year under the guidance of jump coach Jim Samiec, and bolstered his confidence by winning the Bayside Conference and 1A East Region crowns.
“Last year I came here to perform and was like weak coming out,” Bolden said. “So I felt like this year was my year to get it. I guess I worked harder this year than I did last year.”
Bolden wasted little time. He took the lead with his first jump of 20 feet, 8 inches. He would win the meet on his second attempt, though, flying through the air before splashing into the sand with an effort of 21-10.
“He put in a lot of work this year,” said Colonel Richardson coach James Jackson of Bolden, who would have won the title with four of his other jumps — 20-10 1/2, 21-1 1/2 and 21-2 1/4. “He had coach Jim (Samiec) come in and teach him some new techniques. He did it all on his own through hard work and dedication.
“I think when he came in eighth last year that kind of hurt him a little bit,” Jackson added. “So with him coming in this year from the start of the season until now, jumping hard every day and trying to improve ... the kid did it on his own.”
Bolden will compete in the triple jump on Saturday.
Cambridge-SD’s Zakiya Chikwendu was third in the girls’ 1A pole vault, clearing 8-6.
Queen Anne’s junior Nikolai Rhodes placed fourth in the 2A boys’ 3,200, clocking a personal-record 9:49.91. Three seniors finished ahead of Rhodes, led by champion Chase Weaverling of Poolesville, who won in 9:25.33.
Kent Island’s Darien Neely was fourth in the boys’ 2A shot put, setting another school record with a heave of 47-8 1/2. Easton’s Tyriek Jacobs finished fourth in the boys’ 2A long jump at 21-3.
Kent Island’s Kamryn Dodd was seventh in the girls’ 2A discus with a toss of 95-2, followed by Queen Anne’s Takia Dozier in eighth at 91-11.
North Caroline’s Claudia Damico hit a PR with her eighth-place finish in the girls’ 2A triple jump, leaping 34-11 1/4. Kent Island’s Emily Bowen was 10th at 33-5 1/4.
Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at email@example.com