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Jan. 28, 2007

Indoor track smokes competition

by Johanna Gretschel, Online Managing Editor
JAN. 22, PG SPORTSPLEX-

The Blair girls' indoor track team placed 9th with 31 points and the boys' team scored 18 points to tie Wooton High School and place 12th out of 21 teams at the Montgomery County Championship.

Senior twins Ashlyn and Halsey Sinclair, junior captain Louis Varella and sophomore Jonathon Haughton were the primary point-scorers for the girls' and boys' teams, running well individually and anchoring relay teams.

Senior Ashlyn Sinclair out-kicks her competition in the 500m dash at the Montgomery County Championship.
Senior Ashlyn Sinclair out-kicks her competition in the 500m dash at the Montgomery County Championship.
Halsey Sinclair broke away from the pack and set a blistering pace early in her 1600m race. Two girls, Whitman's Morgane Gay and Churchill's Louise Hannallah, stuck with Sinclair. She maintained her lead for most of the race, forcing Hannallah to run in the outside lane next to her with Gay a few strides back. With about 250m to go, Gay took control of the lead. Sinclair's kick was not enough to catch Gay, who won in a new county record of 5:05.66. Halsey garnered second with a time of 5:09.25 ahead of Hannallah, who finished third. All three girls ran under the old county record, 5:11.5, set in 1994 by Sally Glynn (Walter Johnson).

Sinclair's 3200m run was a near replica to her 1600m run. She set a tough pace to draw out her main competition, and Hannallah and Quince Orchard's Cara Harrison rose to the challenge 200m into the race. While Harrison attempted to stay with Sinclair stride for stride in the outside lane, Hannallah copied county champion Gay's 1600m strategy by hanging a few strides behind the frontrunners. Harrison made her move to take the lead at the 1400m mark, leaving Sinclair and Hannallah to battle it out for the second position. The two girls began their respective kicks and overtook Harrison with about 800m left in the race. Hannallah proved to be too quick for Sinclair, but the defending county champion claimed second place in a time of 11:20.85. Hannallah's winning time was 11:18 and Harrison finished third in 11:24.

Ashlyn Sinclair placed third overall in the 500m dash with a time of 1:20.91. She started the race in the middle of the pack and worked her way into third place by the 200m mark. At 300m she was in second position, and passed into first on the last curve of the track to win the heat.

In her 800m run, Ashlyn Sinclair consistently stayed at the front of a large pack led by Whitman's Leslie Morrison. Morrison pulled away during the last 100m to win and set a new county record of 2:17.96, but Sinclair took second in 2:19.5. Sinclair's time also beat the previous county record of 2:19.51, set in 2005 by Wooton's Veronica Salcido. Salcido finished 3rd in 2:20.34 at this year's meet.

Junior Nilan Schnure sprints to the finish of the 500m dash at the Montgomery County Championship. Johanna Gretschel
Junior Nilan Schnure sprints to the finish of the 500m dash at the Montgomery County Championship.
Haughton led off the boys' 4x400m relay with a strong 53.72 leg to put the Blazers in fourth position before handing off to junior Nilan Schnure. Schnure was passed by Damascus's second leg, but senior captain Aaron Townsend passed Paint Branch to bring the Blazers back into contention. Varella, the anchor, shifted into third at the beginning of his leg and narrowed the gap between Blair and Magruder. Varella's 52.62 400m brought him close enough to Magruder to pass the Colonels in the last few meters for a close second place finish. The Blazers placed second overall with their time of 3:35.18.

The boys' 4x200m relay ran 1:34.94 to place fourth overall in a race closely resembling the 4x400m relay. While Richard Montgomery won by a wide margin in 1:32.4, Blair's fourth place was separated from Magruder and Paint Branch's second and third places only by tenths of a second.

Townsend believes the key to future success for the boys' sprint relays at higher levels of competition, including the regional and state meets, lies in consistency. He says the team keeps running the same overall time, but some runners' faster times are compensating for other runners' slower times due to the athletes' different peaks. "I feel like we need to be more consistent with our times. We need to try and peak at the same time," Townsend says.

The 4x400m relay team has made vast improvements in only a year. At the 2006 Montgomery County Championship, the squad placed twelfth compared to 2007's second place finish. Townsend attributes this turnaround to lack of injuries this season. "Last year," he recounts, "I wasn't even able to run at regionals because of an ankle problem."

Head Coach Mike Fleming believes the Blazers performed well at the first championship meet of the season. "As a team, we were very productive," he said. "We held our own, both girls' team and boys' team."

Other noteworthy performances included Haughton's sixth place in the 300m with 37.35, Varella's seventh place in the 500m with 1:09.11 and the girls' eighth place 4x400m relay with a time of 4:21.

Ashlyn and Halsey Sinclair and Nilan Schnure will be competing in the Virginia Tech Invitational at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia on Jan. 27. The next indoor track meet the Blazers will be attending as a team is the PA Qualifier Invitational, hosted by Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Maryland, on Feb. 3.



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  • Get real on January 28, 2007 at 10:39 PM
    I'm sorry but 12th out of 21 is not "smoking" the competition.
  • middle distance on January 29, 2007 at 6:35 PM
    at first the inspirational titles were kinda funny but now its getting ridiculous. no offense johanna, but i would feel a bit embarassed to have any of the 8 girls teams that beat us or 11 boys teams that beat us to hear that we claimed that we "smoked the competition". churchill girls "smoked the competition". RM boys "smoked the competition". Chris Moen "smoked the competition". Leslie Morrision "smoked the competition". we did decently, but, as some shirts say, "dont let your mouth write a check that your legs cant cash"
  • whoa on January 29, 2007 at 7:27 PM
    well, that's good but i really don't like hearing about the twins anymore. It's making me feel like the rest of the team is not important. But whatever, I'm glad to run with the team whenever i can.
  • Johanna Gretschel (View Email) on January 29, 2007 at 10:31 PM
    to get real/middle distance runner:

    Through my headline, "Indoor track smokes competition," I was referencing impressive runs by numerous Blair athletes (including Ashlyn, Halsey, Louis, Jonathon and the boys' sprint relays) without specifically mentioning names. I'm sorry if my headline offended you, maybe I should have been more specific. While I agree the Blair teams as a whole did well but not spectacular (although the boys improved tremendously over last year's county championship where they scored only 3 points), I have to disagree with you to say that many Blair individuals did smoke the competition. None of our athletes went home with a county title, but second place still qualifies as "smoking fast" in my opinion. My headline was meant to recognize all of the athletes who placed well (since there were many) at counties instead of only mentioning one person's name.
  • aficionado on January 31, 2007 at 9:09 PM
    Yeah indoor track! these are some good results. props to the sinclairs too
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