This year, 10ths of seconds would separate event winners from non-medalists. At least in the events we contested. An example was the 400 with Rahsheed seeded 5th at 49.83 and the top entrant listed at 49.29. The top 7 each had a legitimate shot at winning. The sprint relays ended up closer than the seeds with several injuries to top squads and others (like us!) dropping big chunks of time to get into the mix.
I’ll go event by event but a hat tip has to go to Mr.Wright. He brought the 4×2 from a tight 3rd to 1st on his leg, set a school indoor record at 400 (49.07) and brought the 4×4 from way back to nip Milton Hershey School at the line to win the heat (see pic).
First up was the long jump. Ahmir Johnson sat at 6th coming in with his 22-3 from back in December. As I followed the competition, it seemed like no one could break the 22 ft barrier during the early rounds, leaving things wide open. UD’s Brian Kaufman, Pa. #1 all season (23-2.5), was almost a foot off and finished 4th while the winner popped a 23-0, over a foot better than he’d jumped all year! Ahmir looked a bit off but his 21-9 was only 6″ short of his best, which held up for the 8th and last medal. Later on, the Triple Jump was (how should I put this)……..not good. On his first two attempts, he was so far off the board that he just ran through the pit. His final shot at the finals saw a good looking jump followed by a bad looking red flag…….another foul. His 46-7 would have got him 3rd.
Our first event on the track was the 400. Five athletes, all closely matched (see above). Rahsheed had the slowest time and drew lane 2 (lane 1 was open). Originally, the plan was to try to get the lead at the break and try to hold everyone off as long as he could. A tactic he used with success up at Ocean Breeze a few weeks ago. However, the guys in THIS race were not the guys in THAT race. Early pacing was a bit too brisk and ‘Sheed had to settle for third at the break. Not a bad spot, as he had room to move, and it looked like he was making a run at the leaders down the backstretch. They had other plans as they hit another gear and started to pull away. Heading for home, our guy tied up a bit and was picked off by two others, finishing 5th in the ‘fast’ heat, as someone displaced him to 6th from another heat. 49.07 breaks Dave Stellato’s 49.42 from 2013.
Cam Christopher’s 1:57.87 from Ocean Breeze put him in the 2nd of 3 heats with everyone, again, within a second of each other. Anyone’s to win. Cam dragged the field through a tad over-zealous 54+ first 400 which would challenge all to keep it together during the lap 3. Cam continued to lead until mid-backstretch of the final lap as guys started to pass. Payment came due for that brisk early pace and the track gods collected in the final straight, Cam finishing 5th in the heat and 12th overall. 1:57.07, an indoor PR, improving on his seed time by .7. Gotta give him props for ‘going for it’.
Next up, 4×2. A few minor mistakes (I wont nit-pick here) didn’t hurt us much, and the last two passes were almost perfect (and Max Davies’ HUGE 22.6 PR third leg), contributed to the lead we found ourselves in rounding the first curve of the anchor leg. Matt Selverian was off to the races when, nearing the end of the curve, he popped up, landed awkwardly off balance and hobbled off the track. Looking at the recording, no one touched him, he didn’t step on the curb….what happened?? Matt told me later, through his disappointment, his inside leg “just gave out”. While trying to recover his footing, he tweaked his hamstring to add injury to insult. We were on pace to run 1:30 and change which would have medaled, as nobody broke the 1:30 mark.
4×4 – Looking back over the last several years, we’ve done pretty well here in this event, always beating expectations.(2016 8th 3:24.54, 2015 4th 3:24.40, 2013 5th 3:23.75, 2012 2nd 3:21.49) With a seed time of 3:26.78, I thought a 3:25-3:24 was a conservative figure. The key was Sam Kane. He’d been leading off in the 54’s and that would not work. Maybe with a running start and plenty of company, third leg would better suit him. We moved Max Davies, who’d been showing aggressiveness lately, into that important first spot. Drawing the top seed in the second fastest heat would give us the confidence to know we were not going to get blown out and, if we win the heat, we probably medal. Seeming to PR with every outing (52.42 at MOC), Max took charge from the gun holding off all challengers and handing Cam a slight lead with a solid 51.4 PR. Just what we needed. Cam (50.3 indoor PR)widened the lead through the first lap with the field closing a bit on the second but still leading into the 3rd leg. Sam “Sugar” Kane looked good through 200, but aggressive moves by Milton Hershey and Pennridge into the turn almost caused another mishap. Into the last turn, Sam got tangled up with the same two guys and lost some momentum, but rallied back to pass Pennridge posting a much-more-like-it 52.0. Meanwhile, Hershey had somehow opened up a pretty big gap and Rahsheed went right to work. I’ve seen this Hershey kid before and he’s pretty good. ‘Sheed steadily closed on him and pulled up on his shoulder with about 120 to go. As he accelerated to go by, so it Hershey. He’d been waiting for Rahsheed. Now it’s an all out, neck and neck sprint around the curve and down the stretch with neither conceding. A slight surge and a well timed lean got us the heat win. 3:23.29.
400M Rahsheed Wright 6th place 49.07 Indoor School Record #5 PA
800M Cam Christopher 12th place 1:57.08 indoor PR #15 PA
4×200 DNF (Dunswell 22.6PR, Wright 22.5, Davies 22.5PR, Selverian DNF)
4×400 3:23.29 (Davies 51.2 PR, Christopher 50.3 PR, Kane 52.0 PR, Wright 49.5) 6th place #6 PA
Long Jump Ahmir Johnson 21-9 8th place
Triple Jump Johnson xxx