Whitney Young boys and girls sure picked a ripe day to compete at their finest level. For the first time in their school history, the Dolphins swept the CPS championships.
The boys used dominating performances in the field events along with timely sprints and distance points to narrowly defeat six-time defending champion Lane Tech 95-85.
The girls won more convincingly on the strength of deep upperclassmen power to turn back Lane Tech and win their fourth straight conference crown.
It all started in the field
Many observers looked to Young's freshman phenomenon jumper Joseph Toye to produce big results after commanding the headlines on the youth summer circuit in 2011. Toye did not disappoint the Dolphin nation. The first year high school performer showed the poise and confidence of a four-year veteran winning the triple jump (44-3.25), high jump (6-4) and placing a strong second in the long jump (21-1.5). Teammates Walter Bennett and Jim Daniels contributed nicely to the scoring punch before the track events started; Bennett won the Discus Throw (138-8) and Daniels took sixth (116-1).
Key boys moments
The distance running event was supposed to be the 4x800 relay with the key favorites Lane Tech, Whitney Young, Jones College Prep, Mather, and Northside College Prep semi-loading their units. The thought of several teams running under 8:10 never materialized as Lane won in a strategic 8:17.45.
It was the 3200 that garnered the early headlines. Jones’ Jamison Dale sat back for the first several laps before busting away for good with three laps remaining earn a comfortable 9:33.60 win. He pulled four other runners along to break 10:00. It was the first time in meet history that this feat has been accomplished.
The middle-distance arena has been the most improved area in the Public League over the past five seasons. That fact continues to be shown as Lane’s David Timlin led a fleet of six runners under the 2:00 mark when he posted a solid 1:56.50 to win the 800. Timlin and Jones’ workhorse Timothy Warren pulled away from the congestion around the 500 mark. Warren shadowed Timlin hard until the final 150 mark and finished a respectable second in 1:58.82.
One can pick any pivotal moment in the meet as the determining factor in a team win or loss. On the onset, the 400 was supposed be to the marquee event in terms of star power and performance. Instead it provided a boost to a team’s hope. Lane’s Antonio Abreu won it in 50.45, but it was Young’s first year sprinter Gabe Snider who stepped up big time. Snider, a key member of the ultra-successful Dolphin basketball team, picked up ailing teammate and race favorite Dakarai Howard with a right on time second place finish in 50.84. Snider moved briskly from lane eight and picked up five spots over the final 100 of the race. Snider was the final qualifier to the field in Wednesday’s preliminary meet.
Dunbar’s Darvell Harris is a well-known athlete around town because of his exploits on the football field and basketball court. However, it should be noted that Harris is also a standout sprinter who is quickly making those in the track and field world take notice. He started his day by lending a hand in his team’s dominating 4x100 relay win (42.91). It was off to the 4x200 relay for another apparent easy winner (unofficially 1:29.5) but a lane violation nullified the victory for the Mightymen. However, Harris got the final laugh for his team when he broke the historic 200 record that stood since 1986 (Kenwood’s Keith Thomas 21.1h) with a sizzling 21.33. There wasn’t a wind gauge present but the race was conducted against a strong cross wind which usually attack sprint performances.
Coaches from Young and Lane knew that after the dust settled from 16 events the championship would come down to the final event: the 4x400 relay. This was exactly the case with the Dolphins leading the Indians 87-81. It would take a miracle for the Indians to continue their dynasty; they would need to win the final event and or place second and hoped the Dolphins would finish seventh or eighth.
As it was mentioned earlier, star sprinter Howard was ailing. He finished seventh in the 400 and followed that performance up by jogging the 200 to gain 7th place. Howard reportedly pulled his hamstring near the end of the 400. He decided to run the 200 and earn the point that eighth place provided. The Young coaching staff replaced him on anchor with Snider and inserted another leg to keep the quartet intact.
The substitutions proved to be the right call as the Dolphins finished second in 3:28.25 to the Indians fifth place 3:30.42.
The Lady Dolphins win their fourth straight title
The Dolphins lost some key talent from a year, notably the legend Raena Rhone now at Baylor University. However, there would be a boatload of veterans for this year’s edition to defend their title for the fourth year.
Young showed the definition of a true champion as they scored at least two points in all 18 events. Senior standout Claire Kieger led the way with four outstanding performances; she anchored the 4x1 (49.82) and 4x2 (1:47.16) relays, second place 200 (25.15), and third place 100H (15.72). Middle-distance ace Shianne Baggett placed second in her specialty race (800) and came back to win the 1600 in 5:31.95. She also anchored the runner-up 4x400 relay.
Little has her own party
Lindblom superstar sprinter/hurdler Shamier Little continues to shine as one of the premier track athletes in the state and certainly in CPS history.
Little got her award winning day off to a flying start when she demolished the 100H field in a smoking meet record 14.05- it’s also the 30th fastest time in the country in all conditions.
Little is also the state’s best long hurdler but she chose to run the 400 and the final result was the same- 55.72- and one spot better than last year’s second place. The junior ace needed about 300m to catch and then blow past the runner-up finisher Cameron Pettigrew of Payton (56.48).
The final event of the day for Little was the 200 and she needed every inch of real estate to overtake Kieger for the win 24.71.
“I just wanted to go and do my thing- run well and win my races,” Little said easily. She will return to Hanson Stadium next week for the Chicago Brooks Sectional Championship. The results very well could be a repeat performance.
Key meet performances
Elexis Fairley of Morgan Park has endured a tough season with some say has been due to injury among other things. But on Saturday, the speedster continued to break from a “sophomore jinx” winning the 100 (12.16) and placing third in the 200 (25.32). More importantly for the Mustangs in moving forward was the explosive start and complete display of sprinting that Fairley has shown of late.
Not only did Pettigrew finish second in the 400, but she copped the high jump title in 5-6. She needed every jump to hold off Dunbar’s Rashidah Williams who topped out at 5-5.
Kenwood middle-distance star Dhia Dean continued to show her mastery of the 800 when she took a fairly comfortable opening pace (69.7) and then slow things down a bit in third 200m before turning on the jets over the final 100m to win comfortably in 2:18.53. Dean has shown tremendous growth from a year ago when she would routinely go out in a reckless pace and crash and burn at the end of races. She will be a factor in Charleston at the state championship in several weeks.