Nina Crawford and T’Reyah Johnson are just freshmen. Neither has played a part in building the Elizabeth Seton High School track and field dynasty, which, prior to Saturday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships at Our Lady of Good Counsel, had won six straight.
But winning that seventh title still “meant the world” to Crawford, and she ran like it did. The freshman sprinting duo swept the top two finishes in the 400 meters, Crawford pocketing gold in 59.03 seconds and Johnson silver in 59.28, scooping up 18 points and busting open what had been a close race in the team standings between the Roadrunners and Bishop McNamara.
“I mean I’m a freshman,” Crawford said. “I like to feel like I contributed my part to the Seton legacy.”
The Mustangs, perpetually the runner-up to Seton, played second fiddle again, finishing behind Seton for the seventh straight year 199-191, though they certainly were the cause of a few gnawed off fingernails. After Crawford and Johnson went one-two in the 400, Jaela Gay and Cierra Butler did the same for McNamara in the 200, leaving Seton’s Ricca Graham seething with her third place finish.
“We’ll just get them in the [1,600-relay],” Taylor Tucker said after the race. And they would, winning in 3 minutes, 54.27 seconds to officially claim the team trophy. The ubiquitous Tucker, Seton’s hurdling, sprinting and relay running dynamo who was awarded the female MVP and is bound for the University of Maryland next year — “Taylor the Terp” she joked — provided the expected and much needed boost for the Roadrunners in the team standings, winning the 100- and 300-hurdles in 14.93 and 44.19 seconds, respectively, and adding legs on the victorious 1,600-relay and 800-relay (1:41.36).
“We had to win, we had to win,” Tucker said. “It was a lot of pressure. We had to win.”
And the Roadrunners, despite enduring two long days of championship track meets, weren’t quite finished yet. Said Tucker: “Now we get to go to prom.”
As was the case with the girls, the entire meet boiled down to the 1,600-relay, and from the opening three legs it looked as if McNamara would run away with it. But DeMatha’s Terry Gordon put together a blistering anchor leg and nearly tracked down Marcus Turner in a thrilling final 50 meters. But Turner held on, crossing in 3:28.60, .18 ahead of Gordon and the Stags.
By Turner clinging to that lead, McNamara picked up the two points necessary to tie it up with DeMatha in the team standings 118-118 where it was left, as a tie.
“We’re leaving a path for the new freshmen coming in,” said David Thompson, a freshman who ran the third leg in the 1,600-relay. “Letting them know we got to keep this legacy going. Underdogs can do anything out here.”
While the 1,600-relay was the ultimate decider, McNamara wouldn’t have been in the position to match the Stags without a triple (winning three events) from Jordan Martin. The Toledo-bound senior swept the 110-hurdles (14.34), long jump (22-03) and triple jump (43-04.50) to provide the Mustangs with 30 points.
For DeMatha, it was all Darryl Haraway. The sophomore was dubbed the boys MVP after winning the 100 (10.77) by nearly .30 seconds and the 200 (21.88) by half a second and leading the Stags to an easy victory in the 400-relay (43.11).
The Stags’ only other top finisher was Kordell Williams in the 300-hurdles (39.04).
The sprinting events in both the boys and the girls had no such parity as the boys overall team standings. McNamara’s Gay took home first place in the 100 (12.47) and 200 (25.37) and ran a leg in the winning 400-relay (48.09) while DeMatha’s Haraway had a field day on the boys side.
The jumps, per usual, were also owned by the McNamara girls. Christina Solomon, Taylor Dotson, Jaidlin Hill, and Brielyn Rogers combined for two golds, one silver and two bronzes between the high, triple, and long jumps. Solomon won the high jump with a clearance of 5 feet, 4 inches with Dotson taking third (5-02); Hill and Rogers finished second and third in the long jump behind Seton’s Javonne Antoine; and Rogers then topped Antoine in the triple (38-06).
The Academy of the Holy Cross girls fashioned a clean sweep of the distance events (800 meters and up). Senior Caroline Clark captured the 800 (2:15.14), sophomore Kiernan Keller took the 1,600 (5:20.29) and 3,200 (11:49.60) while the two teamed up with Julianne Hall and Julia Pitts to pick up the 3,200-relay title as well (9:29.74).
Good Counsel junior Collin Crilly accounted for 26 of Good Counsel’s 56 points with his top finish in the 800 (1:58.23) and pair of silvers in the 1,600 (4:23.21) and 3,200 (9:33.97).