MIDDLETOWN — Like a lot of high school track athletes, Middletown’s Justin Lynch hadn’t heard great things about the 300-meter hurdles.
“Everyone said it was terrible,” he said.
But Lynch felt obliged to give it a try. His coaches told him it would help him run better times in the equally brutal 400-meter dash.
While he is new to the 300 hurdles, Lynch seems to be ideally suited for it. At Saturday’s Don Boyer Invitational, he won the boys 300 hurdles race with a personal-best time of 42.23 seconds, more than a second faster than anyone else.
Having run the 300 hurdles just four times in his life, Lynch already has two invitational titles to his name in the race. Last week, he took the title at the Charas Heurich Invitational at Smithsburg High in 43.09 seconds.
“I expected to do well [at the Boyer Invitational]. But I didn’t think I would win,” Lynch, a sophomore, said shortly after stepping off the awards podium at his home track. “It means a lot to get this medal.”
In the same spirit of experimentation, Urbana sophomore Ella Auderset took a new approach to one of her signature events, the 1,600 run, as she ran it for the first time during the outdoor season.
Instead of conserving herself for the end of the race, as she typically does, Auderset pushed herself as hard as she could as soon as the gun sounded.
“I felt good about it. It felt pretty comfortable,” Auderset said after winning the girls 1,600 by almost 15 seconds in 5 minutes, 12.33 seconds.
Auderset’s victory in that race helped propel the Urbana girls to yet another invitational title with 154.5 points. Winslow Township was the next closest school in the girls meet with 86.
In the boys meet, Bowie won the team championship with 109 points, while Eleanor Roosevelt was second with 99. The Thomas Johnson boys were the top team from Frederick County with 87 points.
The Frederick County champions at the Boyer Invitational, aside from Lynch and Auderset, were Urbana’s Brin Strouse (3,200 run, 11:47.79), Autumn Hoffman (high jump, 4 feet, 10 inches) and Payton Bohrer (pole vault, 10-6), TJ’s Ariana Jones (discus, 100 feet), Middletown’s 4x400 relay team (4:07.48), Oakdale’s Emily Baba (800 run, 2:24.97) and the Bears’ 4x800 relay team (10:29.42) in the girls meet, and TJ’s Mack McKeever (1,600 run, 4:41.32), Alex Lombardo (800 run, 2:03.05) and Peter Kaman (pole vault, 11-6), and Middletown’s Jacob Mattheis (110 hurdles, 15.82) in the boys meet.
Auderset, meanwhile, might be inclined to push forward with her new strategy.
“I just want her to go out hard because we do these workouts in practice, and she can hold these 800s at a pretty good clip,” Urbana coach CJ Ecalono said. “So, I wanted her to push herself [in the 1,600] and make it a time trial. I wanted to see how hard she could push herself today.”
Lynch, on the other hand, is quickly developing a new favorite event with the 300 hurdles.
“It’s a brutal race,” he said. “But I want to keep lowering my times and see if I can qualify for states. I want to see how far I can go with it.”