Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Feb. 8, 2007

Last Track to Philly meet preps indoor track for Regionals

by Johanna Gretschel, Online Managing Editor

The boys' sprint relays continued to improve at the Last Track to Philly meet, cutting three seconds off their 4x400m relay time of 3:35.18 from the Montgomery County Championship. The invitational served primarily as the indoor track team's final tune-up for the 3A/4A West Regional meet, which will be held Feb. 13.

The boys' 4x400-meter relay team set a season record with a third-place showing of 3:32.30. Sophomore Jonathon Haughton started the Blazers off in second place at the 100m mark but dropped back into the middle of the pack before handing off to senior Paul Ishimoto. Ishimoto maintained fourth position with the runners from Sherwood and Magruder close at his heels. Senior captain Aaron Townsend formed a tight pack with Sherwood and Magruder, surging into third ahead of DeMatha at the 200m mark but slowed back into fourth before the final hand-off. Junior captain Louis Varella ran a blazing 51.64 anchor leg to match Sherwood, DeMatha and Magruder stride-for-stride before sprinting ahead of all three teams to capture third place for the Blazers.

Haughton said excessive elbowing during the race tripped him up and slowed him down. "[If it weren't for] the hard-hitting collisions during the race, I could have bettered my excellence in the four by four," he said.

Ishimoto was an alternate for the relay, competing in place of junior Nilan Schnure. Head coach Mike Fleming wanted to see how Ishimoto would perform as a member of the 4x4 team, giving him Schnure's spot because Schnure has raced the previous weekend. Ishimoto also substituted for senior Victor Mba-Jones in the 4x200 meter relay. Despite the loss of Jones and a nagging foot pain causing junior Brandon Hudgins to run slower than usual, the 4x200 meter relay ran 1:37.32 to place fourth in their heat and fifth overall.

The success of the boys' sprint relays with the addition of Ishimoto gives Fleming a tough job in deciding which runners will get a spot on the relay teams for the regional meet. "It makes it tough for me to maybe justify putting another runner into another spot," Fleming said.

Each track event consists of several heats, or races, with the slowest competitors in the first heat and the fastest in the last heat. The girls' 4x200m relay was not seeded correctly and thus was placed in the first heat. Though they won their heat, the relay was ultimately disqualified because the girls did not complete their hand-offs within the correct zone.

Sophomore Amber Seals complained that the Blazers' lack of competition in the race caused her to run slower than usual. "I need competition to push me," she said. "I was like, 'will someone please catch me?'"

After finishing 0.37 of a second apart in 1600m run at the Montgomery County Championship on Jan. 22, senior captain Emmanuel Waktola and sophomore Rutvij Pandya once again worked together to finish in top times of 4:48 and 4:49, respectfully. Waktola placed 10th and Pandya was only a few steps behind, garnering 11th. Pandya was seeded ahead of Waktola and was thus allowed to start closer to the inside lane, while Waktola took off from the outside. "I started out in the sixth lane and I got boxed in at the beginning," Waktola said.

Waktola caught Pandya near the 200m mark, and the two stuck together for the next 800m of the race, but Waktola surged ahead at the 1000m mark. "I just paced off him until I decided to make a move," Waktola said.

The Last Track to Philly meet was intended to be a qualifying meet for Penn Relays, a prestigious meet attracting over 15,000 athletes from all over the world hosted by the University of Pennsylvania in late April every year. The boys' 4x400m relay time of 3:32.02 will be submitted for a possible spot in the meet. Fleming was conservative in the number of entrants for Blair, but the meet was a lot smaller than he had thought it was going to be. "In hindsight, I wish that I had entered more [runners] overall," he said.

Several Blazers opted out of the Last Track to Philly meet to compete in the Virginia Tech Invitational the previous weekend, on Jan.27. Senior Halsey Sinclair won the 1600m run in a time of 5:07.42. Schnure placed 24th in the 1000m dash with a time of 2:42.97. Senior Ashlyn Sinclair ran a 2:58.96 to capture second in the 1000m, earning her an invitation to compete at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational on Feb. 3. Sinclair ran a time of 2:57.54 to place seventh in the field of elite high school runners.

The Blazers' next meet will be the 3A/4A West Regional meet on Tues., Feb. 13, at the PG Sportsplex.

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  • Sas on February 9, 2007 at 9:24 PM
    i still think it was conditions, but props on the article
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