Indoor track meets usually have a maximum of two teams that vie for first place.
That wasn’t the case in the Catholic League championship Feb. 14 at Lehigh University. Four boys’ teams accrued enough points to, on most days, emerge victorious. However, when the final statistics from 16 events were tallied, Cardinal O’Hara was declared champion for the second straight season.
The Lions’ 82.5 points edged St. Joseph’s Prep (76), La Salle (75) and West Catholic (70).
Meanwhile the girls’ championship wasn’t quite as close, as West Catholic was never seriously threatened despite rugged competition. Numerous outstanding efforts highlighted the Burrs’ 101-point performance.
Ironically, the second and third place finishers mirrored the boys’ in points, as St. Hubert finished second with 76, followed by Cardinal O’Hara with 75.
“It’s a very important race for everyone,” said West Catholic senior Ozzie Bryan. “You think about how much hard work goes into preparing for it. You want to make the most of the opportunity.”
Although his team placed fourth, Bryan was electric. In addition to acquiring gold medals in the 60, 200 and 400-meter dashes, he placed first in the long jump.
He couldn’t have imagined being so dominant, but Bryan had an inkling that he might finish the day with a smile.
“A lot of track is about confidence,” said Bryan. “You have to have confidence that you will do better than everyone else. There are definitely nerves, but sometimes they help you. But once the race begins, all you focus on is running as fast you can.”
For the boys, first-place finishers included Cardinal O’Hara in both the 4×200 relay and 4×400 relay; St. Joseph’s Prep in the 4×800; and Father Judge in the distance medley. Anchoring the Crusaders to an impressive victory by almost nine seconds in the medley was senior Tom Kehl, who also captured the 3,000-meter run.
Although his Father Judge team wasn’t able to duplicate the kind of success it had two years ago when it won the league title, Kehl lauded his team’s effort and advised other runners from non-championship squads to do the same.
“It takes a lot to win a team championship,” said Kehl. “Everything has to fall into place. Sometimes a team is very young and it takes time for them to come together at the same time. Track isn’t only about winning championships or finishing first. You keep trying to improve on your personal best times and even though that might not be good enough to win first place, if it’s the best you can do, then you have to be happy with that.”
Villanova University-bound Chris O’Sullivan of St. Joseph’s Prep won the mile run, finished second in the 800 and helped the 4×800-relay team place first. Other standouts included West Catholic’s Dwayne Medley in the 60-meter hurdles and Lansdale Catholic’s Kevin Day in the 800.
In the field events, O’Hara’s Chazz Wilks heaved the furthest shot put while LaSalle’s Beau Whitman took the pole vault. Lansdale Catholic’s Bill Schoener won the high jump, and West Catholic’s Tyrek Edwards took the triple jump.
For the girls, junior Michelle Davis, junior Chante Moore, freshman Caela Williams and sophomore Jada Steward led West Catholic to a rare all-underclassmen victory in the 4×200 relay. Moore also took first in the 400-meter and 60-meter dashes.
The meet’s most uncommon result occurred when West Catholic finished one through four in the 200-meter dash. Davis edged teammates Moore, Williams and Steward; only 1.85 seconds separated the quad. The Burrs also snared the 4×400 relay.
“That was fun,” said Moore, referring to the 200 meters. “Even though we are teammates, we try our best to beat each other in both practice and meets.”
The better the competition, said Moore, the more it motivates runners to produce optimal results.
“It’s easier to run when there are people near you,” she said. “If you are way out in front, sometimes you let down a little bit and it reflects in your times.”
Other gold medals were won by Archbishop Carroll’s Alyssa Bellia in the mile, Archbishop Ryan’s Tamisha Thomas in the 60-meter hurdles, Cardinal O’Hara’s Fiona Egan in the 3000, Archbishop Wood’s Kate Conville in the 800, Archbishop Ryan’s Deirdre O’Leary in the pole vault, Conwell-Egan’s Theresa Horn in the high jump, St. Hubert’s Kelly Hooven in the long jump and Conwell-Egan’s Logan Brenker in the triple jump. O’Hara won the distance medley and Archbishop Wood won the 4×800.
John Knebels can be reached at email@example.com.