Thomas S. Wootton High School's Gwen Shaw, having just won the 300-meter dash, glanced at the scoreboard once she crossed the finish line.
“Yes,” she said loudly, slightly softer than what would be considered a yell, as she swung her right arm in front of her body.
“I don't really celebrate after I run,” Shaw said. “So, it was really good.”
If that counts as celebration, the Clarksburg boys, Montgomery County's top team at the Class 4A/3A state championship meet Tuesday, put Shaw, the county's top individual at the meet, to shame.
The Clarksburg boys won the 4A indoor state title, their first indoor state crown, and celebrated with vigor as they shared hugs and posed for pictures. Otherwise, as a competitor rather than a celebrator, Shaw more than held her own.
Shaw won as both a favorite (55-meter hurdles) and an underdog (300-meter dash), but she was particularly proud of her 39.72-second time in the 300-meter dash and edging the race's two favorites down the stretch.
“It's just whoever's got the most guts and whoever can just tough it out for those last few seconds,” Shaw said.
Speaking of guts, Clarksburg coach Scott Mathias said his boys showed plenty, though he probably didn't mean what senior Paul Joseph spilled into a trash can after winning the 300-meter dash, the Clarksburg boys' only individual win of the meet.
“I expected to win,” Joseph said. “I'm really confident, and I had the best seed time, and I know that I'm a pretty fast guy. The other competitors are great. In my mind, I just felt like I had this.”
After clearing his stomach, Joseph rebounded to place third in the 55-meter dash and the 55-meter hurdles.
Clarksburg senior Will Bertrand finished second in the 800-meter run, 1,600-meter run and 3,200-meter run.
“I was little disappointed that I didn't come up with a gold medal, but this is a lot more gratifying, getting to share it with the team,” Bertrand said.
Said Mathias: “I couldn't be happier if I was twins.”
Clarksburg junior Claudia Ababio won the 4A girls shot put title (42-7.5) in an upset of Bowie junior Antonella Taylor, whom Ababio had never before beaten. What were Ababio's expectations facing an athlete who had already bested her so many times this season?
“I didn't have any, because you don't have expectations, you're always pleasantly surprised,” Ababio said with a huge smile.
Damascus' Laura Janss won the 3A girls high jump, tying an Atholton jumper at 5-foot-2. Janss was unsure how a winner was determined (fewest overall misses), so she waited while her coaches discussed the situation with the officials. After talking it over, her coaches walked over stone-faced before revealing the good news.
“I was shocked,” Janss said. “I thought it was going to be either a tie or a jumpoff. So, I'm very happy.”
Quince Orchard high jumper Jack O'Keefe, on the other hand, knew exactly how the tiebreaking system works. So, he kept a count of how many misses each opponent had and even checked with the scorekeeper when a competitor he wasn't tracking unexpectedly cleared 6-foot-2. When neither cleared 6-foot-4, O'Keefe immediately knew he had won the 4A boys title.
“It's surreal right now,” O'Keefe said. “I never thought I'd actually win a state championship.
Wootton's Sylvia Deppen won the 4A girls 500-meter run (1 minute, 18.41 seconds), though she was bothered by cramps immediately afterward. Her mother rushed in to help a proud Deppen walk away from the finish area.
“Hands over my shoulder,” her mother insisted. “Hands over my shoulder.”
“She usually helps me recover, stretches me out, be supportive,” Deppen said.
What did she say Tuesday?
“She was like, Great job,'” Deppen said. “Then was like, 'But you've got to keep walking, because you've got the hurdles finals next.'”
Clare Severe won the 4A girls 1,600-meter run after a disappointing showing in the 4x800-meter relay. Severe was also bummed that Bethesda-Chevy Chase's Caroline Beaks, the second seed in the 1,600, had pulled out of the event to focus on the 3,200-meter run. Severe doesn't like to lead, and she's happily ran behind Beakes throughout the season.
“If I was going to go into the 1,600 really down and angry, then I wasn't going to run well,” Severe said. “So, I just tried to relax and let it go.”
Beakes' decision also worked out well, but before she won the 3,200-meter run, she helped Bethesda-Chevy Chase win the 4x800-meter relay.
“Those girls are so hard-working,” Beakes said of Lily O'Dowd Laura Nakasaka and Brittney Wade. “I don't think we've won one race in the four by eight all season, so it was really fun to bring it together at states.”
Beakes said she fed off her relay teammates energy, and of course, it helped that she didn't run the 1,600-meter run. At which stage of the 3,200-meter run did she feel especially energized thanks to sitting out?
“The whole time, basically,” Beakes said. “Whenever I do all three events, I'm just mentally and physically dead by the time the two-mile comes around.”
Wade also won the 800-meter run, her third state title in the event.
“This was a little slower than my last indoor championship, but I'm still happy no matter what,” Wade said.
Northwest's Joshua McDonald won the 4A boys 500-meter run, besting higher-seeded teammate Dahri Jahn-Richardson. McDonald said he'd never before beaten Jahn-Richardson in the race, even during practice.
“I knew I had it in me,” McDonald said.
Jahn-Richardson was visibly upset after the 500-meter run, but later, he and McDonald joined Jalen Walker and Curtis Wynne for Northwest's state-title-winning 4x400-meter relay.
“I couldn't let that bring me down,” Jahn-Richardson said. “I had to come back and do my best for the team. It takes all of us to win the four by four, obviously. I just changed my mentality.”