LANDOVER — When Ella Auderset handed the baton to Piper Jons for the final leg of the 4x200-meter relay Tuesday night at the state indoor track and field meet, Urbana sat in fourth place.
Jons, who has become a standout sprinter for the Urbana girls during her senior season, began her anchor leg of the race roughly 50 meters off the lead. Closing the gap seemed like a tall order.
There was really only one option.
“I was running as fast as I could, basically,” she said.
As the race neared the finish line, Jons had made a jaw-dropping charge to the front of the pack and gave herself the chance to lean for the win.
When Urbana’s name flashed on the board as the second-place finisher, Jons’ face lit up in surprise. Coach C.J. Ecalono gave her a big high-five, and her teammates came over to wrap her up in a hug.
“That was insane,” said Auderset, a multi-time state champion who had earlier anchored the Hawks’ 4x800 relay to victory in 9 minutes, 41.16 seconds. “[Piper’s] whole season has been like that. Every relay you put her in, you put her on anchor and know she is going to close that gap. She is going to finish the job. That was the most exciting race I have ever been in. That was amazing.”
Jons’ final leg of the 4x200 relay epitomized the effort that carried the Urbana girls to the Class 4A team championship for the second straight year at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.
As Ecalono often says, it wasn’t the victories that propelled the Hawks to the top. It was their remarkable depth and sheer number of talented athletes.
The Hawks had a placewinner in 10 of the 13 events and generated 77 points to blow away the rest of the 4A field. C.H. Flowers was second with 32, and Richard Montgomery was third with 30.
Fittingly, all of the Urbana victories were team affairs. In addition to the 4x800 victory, the Hawks won the 4x400, also anchored by Jons, in 4:02.1, and their second-place finish in the 4x200 became a victory in 1:45 after Richard Montgomery was disqualified for impeding a runner around one of the curves.
“We are still the smallest school in 4A. Yet, we are still here battling with the best of the best,” Ecalono said. “That’s the most satisfying thing.”
The team championship capped another season of dominance for the Urbana girls, who have won 4A team championships in three consecutive seasons, counting the outdoor season last spring.
“We are all so supportive of each other. It makes it so much fun,” Jons said. “And we have so much depth. We are good in every event, which is nice.”
While the Urbana girls set the standard as a team, there were some individual state champions from Frederick County on the second day of the state meet, which featured Class 4A and 3A schools.
Linganore’s Carter Holsinger won the 3A boys pole vault for the third consecutive season with a height of 14 feet, 6 inches, while teammate Mikayla Moxley won the 3A girls 800-meter run in 2:21.19.
Moxley’s first state title surprised her a bit. She began crying after she crossed the finish line well ahead of the rest of the field.
“Tears of joy, of course,” she said.
Holsinger, meanwhile, captured his fifth state title overall after winning the 3A title in each of the last two outdoor seasons, as well.
He nearly set a new 3A record by going over the bar at 15 feet, 2 inches, but his arm nudged the bar off on his way down to the mat on his third and final attempt. He had previously cleared that height on his way to winning the county title in the pole vault.
“I know I can do it,” Holsinger said. “I have done it before and have the drive to do it again.”
He said he hopes to be clearing 16 feet by the end of the outdoor season this spring.
Ecalono, meanwhile, scores meets pretty meticulously before they even happen, and Tuesday’s meet didn’t unfold anywhere close to what he was expecting.
But it really didn’t matter.
“We were just scoring in different ways,” he said. “I love it. ... Back-to-back titles sounds pretty cool right now.”