BALTIMORE — Blake Walton and Emily Lewis cleared hurdles.
Fiona Mulligan and Kendron Wayman sealed victory on their final attempts.
Clayton Tyler sprinted to his first title before Geni Roberts hopped, skipped and jumped to his second.
And Kyra Schulties finally chased down the only crown that had eluded her outdoors, then ran down another.
It was all part of a banner Saturday at Morgan State University’s Hughes Stadium, as the Bayside Conference enjoyed perhaps its finest performance ever at the state track and field championships, winning 10 titles to bring its three-day grand total to 14.
Heading that pack was Schulties, the Kent Island High senior, who a week ago was discouraged with her times despite winning the 2A East Region titles in the 800 and 1,600 meters.
Schulties might have struggled to find a discouraging word on this warm, sunny afternoon, as she won the Class 2A girls’ 1,600 meters, then ran off with the 800 title, seven years after her older brother Alex had won the boys’ 800 meters at North Caroline.
But first came the 1,600.
“I’m really grateful for this experience,” Schulties said. “I didn’t even plan on running the mile this year at all. The moment I got the chance to, it went well, and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.
“It’s not my favorite event, but it’s still an event I hope to continue in the future when I’m running in college,” added Schulties, who plans to run at Mount St. Mary’s.
Schulties jockeyed with two other runners through the first two laps, then settled in behind front-runner Faith Meininger of River Hill. As the two leaders entered the bell lap, Schulties broke in front and never relinquished the lead, crossing the finish line in a school-record 5 minutes, 5.56 seconds for her first state title.
“I didn’t feel comfortable,” Schulties said. “It was painful from the start, but it was a good race. I knew I had five or six (runners) that were faster than me with their PRs (personal records). I knew it was just the perfect opportunity to go for a good time today. Even if I didn’t get first I knew they would be able to push me for a good time.
“I was actually planning on holding off until the last 100,” Schulties said of her decision to begin her kick with 400 meters left. “But I knew it was now or never. I know I’ve been training to be able to have my last lap be like a sprint; to really push it. And so I just took advantage of that. I’m like, ‘You know if I can’t hold on, I can’t hold on. But I’m going to attempt it.”
Schulties didn’t wait as long to make her break in the 800, moving to an early lead in the opening lap. She maintained that lead heading into the bell lap, and actually widened her advantage on the backstretch before clocking in with another personal-record mark of 2:17.03 that was spurred by last Saturday’s disappointment.
“Just remembering how I wanted to run it, running the eight especially,” Schulties said. “Just telling myself, ‘Get back to what you want to do. Start off fast.’ I haven’t been starting off fast like I’ve been training to do. Once I did it, I ran the times I wanted. So it’s just about getting to the right mentality, and just figuring out how to correctly run your race.”
The defending 2A state champion in girls’ 100 hurdles, North Caroline’s Lewis got off to a poor start out of the blocks and was nipped by Seneca Valley’s Deborah Gnoumou (15.27) in the 100 hurdles, finishing second in 15.34.
“It’s going to stay in my head probably forever,” Lewis said of the 100. “Just because it was supposed to be mine. Still got second, so I have to be happy about that because a lot of girls would like to be in my place. I just have to be grateful.”
The senior who is also headed to Mount St. Mary’s, rebounded to win her second straight state championship in the 300 intermediate hurdles, finishing with a 43.93, almost a full two seconds ahead of Hereford’s Lily Gaffney in second.
“The three was good because I got close to my PR, but I didn’t break the state record like planned,” Lewis said. “But it is what it is. I really didn’t get it (the 100) out of my head. I just had to do my next race and focus. I’m just happy to still be a state champ in at least that event.”
Sixth in the 2A boys’ 110 high hurdles, Walton came back to win the 300 hurdles, navigating through the turn and coming into the straightaway with a slight lead before maintaining a lead he never let go of, winning in 38.91.
“It was nothing I really took seriously,” Walton said of the hurdles. “This year was the first year … Every single day I was out here (on the track) working on hurdles. And to me I feel like this was probably proof that if you put in every single day it comes out, it’s worth it in the end. I loved every single second of that race.
“Once I started the curve and saw there were people still in front of me my game plan flew out the window,” Walton continued. “The only mindset I had left was, ‘I’m not losing this race.’ I have worked too hard all season for me to lose by fractions of a second. Once I hit that curve, I pushed two times as hard as I did when I was on the straight, and once I got out in front, I just felt like the race was all mine.”
Walton’s teammate, Tyler did lose by fractions of a second when he ran a 10.83 to place second to Century’s Jalen Staton in the 2A boys’ 100 meters. But the Warrior senior wouldn’t be denied a second time. Running a strong curve, which has become standard for him, Tyler was even with the field in the 200 before pulling away over the final 50 meters for a first-place time of 21.99, giving Easton its first state champ in the 200 since Gary Pinder in 1997.
“I knew I was going to have great competition,” Tyler said. “Great start. Rough start during (Thursday’s) prelims. So I worked on it yesterday (in practice). Came in, it was my main goal to get a good start and keep pushing all the way through. I knew as soon as I came off that curve I had the rest of this. I just kept going.
“I was motivated a ton,” said Tyler, referring to his near miss in the 100. “I really wanted that 100, too. So I came in knowing I had to get the 200.”
The defending 2A state champ in the girls’ pole vault, Kent Island’s Mulligan was locked in a duel with Hereford’s Courtney Butz and North East’s Niya Khanjar at 11 feet. Though Mulligan had an advantage, having not scratched at 11 feet like her two rivals, it wasn’t until she cleared 11-6 on her third and final attempt that she knew she had really clinched the title.
“I knew some of the pressure was off because I hadn’t scratched at 11 feet,” Mulligan said. “So that kind of helps. But I’m thinking, ‘This could be my last vault.’ So send it. That’s all you’ve got left. You just got to go for it.’
“I’m definitely happy with that vault,” Mulligan added. “I know I wanted to PR today but 11-6 … It’s a good note to end on.”
Two days after winning the 2A boys’ shot put crown with his second throw, North Caroline junior Kendron Wayman, after scratching on his first two attempts, flung the disc 129 feet, 2 inches to qualify for the championship flight. Wayman got off throws of 140-10 and 141-5 on his next two attempts, before unloading a throw of 157-3, giving the Bulldogs the state title for a second year in a row after Ja’Mion Franklin’s title effort a year ago.
“It was crazy,” Wayman said with a warm smile. “I was nervous but my (North Caroline assistant) coach (Ted Holloway) kept talking to me. He said, ‘You’re good. Before the finals, he told me, ‘Good, you get this last throw off and you make it to the finals you’re going to win it.’ But I was still nervous a little bit. I didn’t think I was going to make it.
“Coach said, ‘Go out and let it fly,’” Wayman added. “So I just had to let it swing, go out of my hand. He told me to get mad. I said I had to think about something to make me mad. I was like, ‘I could lose this. Might not have a chance next season.’”
North Caroline’s Roberts entered Saturday having won the 2A boys’ long jump title on Thursday. He tacked on a second yesterday afternoon when he launched his 6-foot-3 frame a career-best 46-6 to win the triple jump competition.
“I knew I could win this one because I was jumping late 45s all year long,” said Roberts, who admitted to being nervous entering the triple jump after tweaking his leg Thursday. “From Thursday I hurt my leg a little bit so I was coming in sort of scared, didn’t think I was going to jump as well because I hurt my leg.”
Roberts said that pain added a degree of difficulty to the triple jump.
“There’s three hops and when you are sore it’s hard,” Roberts said. “I just blocked out the pain.”
Notes: Adding to the Bayside’s title haul Saturday were Snow Hill’s Julian Meza-Shockley, who won the boys’ 1A 100 meters, and Crisfield’s Kyle Noll, first in the 1A boys’ 300 hurdles. … On Friday, Stephen Decatur’s London Drummond cleared 6-2 to win the 3A boys’ high jump, and James M. Bennett’s Brian Dupervall won the 3A boys’ shot with a throw of 53 feet.