DOVER – With the tactical guile of a woman far older, Padua sophomore Lydia Olivere accelerated with two laps remaining to win the 3,200-meter run over Tatnall freshman Keelin Hays in the most anticipated race of Wednesday’s Meet of Champions, the climax of the spring season.
The meet is a wistful conclusion, the end of most runners’ careers, the last chance for the elite to challenge for school and state records.
“It’s weird because there’s not big attendance,” said Concord’s Katie Macturk, headed for Davidson College after winning the 1,600. “It’s intense competition., but everyone here is cheering the other runners on. It shows how close the Delaware community is.”
The meet largely determines the all-state team, unless a coaches’ vote adds non-winners in exceptional circumstances.
One exceptional absence was Middletown junior Daija Lampkin, in Cuba as one of 28 Americans invited to the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational, clearing the way for Ursuline sophomore Najia Cornish to win the 200 (24.84), where Lampkin is state record-holder, and to repeat as 100 champion (12.47).
In the keenly-watched 3,200, Hays, led for six laps in a measured pace, with Newark’s Rachel Beston on her shoulder. Hays, who anchored Tatnall’s winning 4×800 relay in the night’s first race, is the only Delaware runner who has ever won a race against Olivere.
“With 800 to go I knew had to make my move,” said Olivere, who began her kick with nearly a half-mile remaining, not letting up through the final two laps. “In the two-mile it’s a very mental race, and you have to stay mentally sharp. You know you’ve done the practices. It’s not how your legs are feeling. I couldn’t be tired. I kept telling myself, ‘I feel good, I feel strong, if I want to be all-state, I have to keep this up.’ I heard my whole team cheering, and parents and all my cousins, and I said, ‘this is it.’”
Padua junior Taliah Cintron won the 300 meter hurdles for the third straight year. “It’s all about being the first one over the first hurdle,” said Cintron, who anchored the Pandas’ winning 4×200 and 4×400 relays. The hurdles were in the wrong place, but no one protested.
Sussex Central’s Naiya Smith, who plays wing on the field hockey team, repeated as state 400 champion (57.56). Tatnall junior Savannah Pankow won the 800 (2:20.67). In the 110-meter high hurdles, Sherita Lowman of Delcastle repeated as champion (14.36).
The Dendy family won a gold medal for the eighth straight year, as Micaiah Dendy of St. George’s repeated as triple jump champion in 38-7¾. Her siblings Marquis (Middletown 2009-11) and Maiya (Padua 2012-14) won in prior years.
Myrissa McFolling-Young of Smyrna swept the shot put and discus. Sophia Janotti of Middletown defeated Dendy by an inch in the long jump. Padua’s Darby Deutsch won the pole vault. Victoria Shepherd of St. Georges won the high jump.
Caroline Foley’s breakout second leg paced Tatnall to victory in the 4×800 relay. Caesar Rodney won the 4×100.
Andrew Hally of Salesianum won the 1,600 (4:2144), but was disappointed that he couldn’t pull teammate George Steinhoff under 4:20.
“Most teams would be happy with second in the county meet, but when you can only enter two in an event, that hurt us,” said Hally, whose Sentinel team rebounded to dominate this weekend’s Division I State Meet. “Those third entries helped. It’s those extra milliseconds that count.”
Mike Mills of William Penn, who cramped after winning the 200 at the Division One meet on Monday night, won the event last night. Jashawn Johnson of Mount Pleasant won the 100. Chidera Egeonu repeated his Division I 400-meter effort and anchored Newark’s winning mile relay.
Ryan Thompson, whose family’s move to 24th Street shifted him from A. I. to McKean, won the 300 hurdles. Micah Joseph-Young of St. George’s won the high hurdles.
Johnelle Joe of Mount Pleasant won the final skirmish of a season-long battle with Salesianum’s Colin Parker, winning the 800 by a half-stride, Tatnall’s Michael Flanagan just behind. Joe had to lope through the 1,600, run earlier, in just under 5 minutes because his coach had entered him. Joe would have missed the 800 had he not competed in a representative effort in the earlier event.
Noah Agwu won the shot put in 53-8, 10 feet further than last year. “He took it upon himself, all summer long, to learn a new way to throw,” said coach Steve Lantz. “Last year, he was a glide thrower at 44 feet. Now he does the rotation and goes 54.”
Mount Pleasant’s Noah Lockwood won the discus. The Green Knights’ Malachi Davis continued his season-long domination of the long and triple jump. Isaiah Morris of Lake Forest high jumped 6-6. Matthew Kosciewicz of Salesianum vaulted 13-6.
Wilmington Charter’s Kevin Murray, headed for the Naval Academy, concluded his glittering high school career by running 9:26 the hardest way possible, with no opponent within a half-lap.