There is a new county championship meet in town.
Who: All private and independent schools with grades 9-12 within the borders of Montgomery County, Maryland
What: The first ever Montgomery Country Indoor Track & Field Championships for private and independent schools
When: January 24th, 2017, Tuesday after school
Where: Georgetown Prep's Hanley Center
How: Georgetown Prep's track meet director, Greg Dunston, and Landon head coach Addison Hunt teamed up to make it happen
Hunt almost made it sound like the meet was organized on the fly:
"I said [to coaches], 'Look at your calendar and see if there's a day that can open up, and we sent out an email. A lot of people responded and so we had the first one.'"
"We used exactly the same format that [MCPS] uses for theirs because we wanted something that kind of paralleled it. We wanted to give kids another chance to get some FAT times," said Hunt.
Hunt said that their intent is definitely to make the indoor county championship meet an annual tradition, even if tweaks are necessary for future scheduling. There will be a perpetual plaque updated each year and inscribed with each team champion's school name. Each individual event winner is henceforth considered a county champion.
"We're going to re-evaluate for next year if that's the time we want to do it because it might actually make sense to do it when most of the state schools are dealing with their regionals. Pretty much all of the larger schools attended and we're hoping next year to maybe move because some schools couldn't come because of exams...The only disappointment was that Bullis wasn't able to make it because they had bigger plans for that particular week, but again by maybe looking at a better week for this, we'll be able to get the full county participation."
Aside from giving kids an opportunity to record FAT times, the pressing question is: why a county championship?
Nothing binds the private schools of Montgomery County, save for maybe the recipient of their property taxes. There is no prevailing funding, regulation, religion, or ideology among them. Only a geographic border drawn hundreds of years ago creates commonality for the eclectic collection of Montgomery County private schools.
Georgetown Prep head track coach Daniel Rose explains that there is in fact a community of Montgomery County private schools.
"There's a kind of bond when you are in a community like the private schools in Montgomery County," said Rose. "There are only so many and you get to see each other only so often. When we get the Montgomery County teams together, it means something special. It means something special to us because it is a chance to showcase and compete against the other schools that we don't typically get in that sort of championship competition."
Rose continued, "We don't always get to participate in all the public school's invitations or sometimes the meets aren't as big. It's a really good opportunity for us - when I say 'us,' I mean all the private schools in Montgomery County - to come together and really show up. We know one another from the run-and-guns and other meets where we see each other. This is something where it's just us and it's nice to have that kind of competition."
Georgetown Prep School won the inaugural boys team title and Good Counsel won the inaugural girls team title. Girls highlights included Caitlyn Ettienne's 42.71 300m (OLGC), Erin Pocratsky's 1:23.98 500m (OLGC), and Taylor Washington's 30-07.00 shot put (SSFS). On the boys' side, Good Counsel nearly swept the open track events excluding the 800m race won by Georgetown Prep's Miles Oliver. Darnell Pratt won the 300m and 500m in 37.09 and 1:08.54, and Jimmy Vazzana set the standard high for the 3200m meet record with a mark of 9:58.67.
Ultimately, Georgetown Prep won the boys team title with well-rounded depth and Coach Rose loved seeing it.
"When I looked over and saw my team warming up," said Rose, "...When I saw my team running together, and when I saw my team competing with others, it was that something special that we had been looking to get. It was really cool to see our guys get some medals. We've been working really hard. We've got a lot of athletes coming out. We've got a really young team and these guys that came out, they've been working their tails off and they got to showcase that. It was exciting. It was fun, and we got to cheer it up for one another."
Photo by Mark Poetker