WILMINGTON – Mount Pleasant High had so much fun winning its first boys team title since 1970 last year in the New Castle County Track and Field Championships, the Green Knights put on an encore performance Saturday at Baynard Stadium.
Mount Pleasant’s strengths were in the throws, jumps and sprints, so it was just fine that everything came down to the meet’s closing 4×400-meter relay.
The Green Knights won that race to overtake Salesianum for the team title in the 74th annual gathering.
“Public school power!” proclaimed Mount Pleasant coach Randy Holmes.
In addition to last year, Mount Pleasant’s only other county team titles came in 1968 and 1970. Mount Pleasant had 86 points to Salesianum’s 83. A.I. du Pont was third with 79 1/2.
The 38th annual girls competition also had a familiar ring, as Padua dominated to win its fifth straight team title and 17th overall. Tatnall and St. Georges finished a distant 2-3.
The girls also had the two-day meet’s individual standout in record-setting Daija Lampkin. The Middletown junior ran the 200-meter dash in a pending state record 23.80 seconds in Friday’s semifinals, then won in 23.96 Saturday. She settled for a county meet record 11.78 while winning the 100 on Saturday. Only Padua graduate Maiya Dendy, who clocked an 11.68 in 2013, has run the 100 faster among Delaware schoolgirls.
“When I run the 200 and hit the curve, I feel like I’m floating on air,” said Lampkin, who was the meet’s lone quadruple winner after also anchoring the victorious 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays.
“Then when I hit the straightaways I just work my arms and knees. Last season my PR was 24.55 and in the 100 it was 12.13 so I’m running faster than I ever thought I would, just from working at it. I knew I’d have to run the 100 well today because of Najiya Cornish [the Ursuline sophomore whose 11.93 was also below Dendy’s 12.04 meet record].”
But it wouldn’t be a county meet without a Dendy family member winning medals, too. This time it was St. Georges senior Micaiah Dendy, who won the long jump (17-10) and triple jump (38-2½). The triple jump broke the meet record 38-1 set by Ursuline’s Betsy Lazzeri in 1987 and equaled by Newark’s Krystina Muhammad in 2008.
“I’ve always wanted to win both ever since I started high school,” said Dendy, who won her first county long jump title and second in the triple jump. “It wasn’t quite what I wanted to do [distance wise]. But I’ve built up every single year and have done better. This year I was able to put it down. I haven’t had a lot of fouls. My dedication to it has changed. I’m trying harder.”
The girls race featured a tremendous duel in the 1,600-meter run in which Tatnall freshman Keelin Hays ran a 4:56.70 to nip Padua sophomore Lydia Olivere (4:56.73) as both resolutely sprinted to the finish line.
“We’ve been working a lot on speed in practice, and I knew the speed was there and I just had to have the mental ability to keep it going,” said Hays, who’d anchored Tatnall’s 4×800 win Friday and also nipped Olivere in last fall’s county cross country race.
Olivere had already won Friday’s 3,200. Tatnall picked up another victory in the 800 from Savannah Pankow (2:16.50).
In addition to Olivere, Padua’s individual champs were Taliah Cintron in the 300 hurdles (44.33), Marie Soja in the shot put (36-2) and Darby Deutsch in the pole vault (11-6).
As usual, incredible depth did the trick for Padua. So did the inspiration from teammates who couldn’t compete.
Top sprinter Christina Allen, the defending long jump champion, suffered a concussion and hamstring injury after a fall in a Friday 200 semifinal and couldn’t compete. The Pandas also had a visit from senior pole vaulter Kelly Muschiatti, who is still hospitalized and recovering from serious head injuries after a March 11 auto accident in which Salesianum student Tyler Brown died.
“Every relay had to be adjusted because of Christina getting hurt,” Padua coach Marnie Giunta said, “but the kids were great with it. We prep them that if something happens, you’ve got to be prepared, no tears, move on. We had to shift kids around.”
As for Muschiatti’s visit, “that was nice she was able to do that. She misses her team,” added Giunta, who was wearing a teal-colored wristband with Muschiatt’s name on it.
For Mount Pleasant, the 4×400 relay foursome of Larry Snow, Rob Myrick, Nigel Bynum and Johnelle Joe won in 3:26.57 to secure the team title. Sallies was fourth despite not running in the final heat.
Mount Pleasant also won the 4×100 with Jashawn Johnson, Malachi Davis, Jaire Brown and Myrick. Davis had supplied 20 big points by sweeping the long jump (22-2¼) and triple jump (45-8) by large margins.
“In the field events, Malachi has come through week after week,” Holmes said. “Noah [Lockwood, runner-up in the shot put and discus] has been very consistent with his throws.
“And in the sprints, when you get two kids each in the final of the 100 [Johnson and Myrick] and 200 [Davis and Johnson], that’s awesome, and the relays came through today.’’
Among boys, another stellar individual effort was turned in by Glasgow junior Ja’Saan Cunningham, who swept the 100 (10.95) and 200 (22.40) and also anchored the Dragon’s winning 4×200 relay.
“The 100, I came in with the second fastest times and that was the most challenging for me,” said Cunningham, who’d missed the county meet last year with an injury.
“In the relay, we got our school record. I like the team stuff and our coach [Alan Harding] was on the last record-breaking relay so we kind of compete with him. It’s more fun like that.”
Another double winner was A.I. du Pont’s Noah Agwu in the shot put (53-2¼) and discus (171-01).
Sallies got wins from George Steinhoff in the 800 (1:58.30) after 1-2 finishers Colin Parker from Sallies and Joe from Mount Pleasant were disqualified for cutting into the pack too early, Andrew Hally in the 3,200 (9:15.39) and the 4×800 team of Sean Banko, Steinhoff, Andrew Insley and Parker.
In the 1,600, Wilmington Charter Kevin Murray’s winning time of 4:14.80 was close to the 4:13.62 meet mark set in 2007 by Tatnall’s Brian Sklodowski.
Contact Kevin Tresolini at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @kevintresolini.