DCIAA championship track and field: Wilson boys, girls sweep the meet

You wouldn’t think Wilson’s Ross Pendergast would’ve had much energy left as he crossed the finish line after the 3,200-meter race at the DCIAA track and field championship meet Thursday at Spingarn, but he appeared to have plenty. First across the line — first in the 3,200 for the first time in his four-year career — Pendergast clenched his fist and yelled, banishing four years of close calls and second-place finishes to Theodore Roosevelt’s Abdur-Rahmaan Kelly, whom he’d finally outlasted in his last DCIAA opportunity.

Pendergast’s Wilson teammates outran history, too. The Tigers swept the meet, winning the boys’ title for the first time since 2006 and the girls’ title for the first time since 2003.

“It was really good to go out like that,” said Pendergast, who ran the race in 9 minutes 55:13 seconds, nearly a full minute faster than the time Kelly won with in the 2013 meet. “We’ve never won an outdoor championship, but we’ve got a lot of new, good runners and it was just a great team effort. It’s amazing to end it like this.”

As Wilson made team history and Pendergast gave his high school career a movie-worthy ending, the Tigers’ Acey Calhoun rewrote the DCIAA record books. Calhoun won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races while also helping his relay team to first in the 4x100 relay — a feat no boys’ runner had achieved in more than 20 years, according to DCIAA officials.

“I wanted to make history and win a championship,” Calhoun said. “It’s all about race paths and stamina. I practice and train to come out on top like this. Go for long runs, 450-meter runs, everything. It actually feels pretty awesome, it’s a great accomplishment.”

On the girls’ side, senior Ashley Younger took the 100- and 200-meter dashes, narrowly edging Wilson classmate Harper Randolph for the former. Sophomore Amis Asia was the only female runner to run the 400 meters in less than a minute, although Tigers freshman Jordan Dean came close in finishing second. Senior Deonna Diggs took the 100-meter hurdles, and freshman Mayim Lehrich won the girls’ 3,200, edging Wilson teammates Julia Rakas and Sophie Cordes in the Tigers’ sweep of the podium.

Particularly on the girls’ side, the Tigers needed every single standout performance to earn the victory, as a banged-up Dunbar team provided enough heroics to keep things close. Though injured throughout the season, Tennessee-bound senior London Freeland, who captured the steeplechase title Monday, staged late comebacks to win both the 800 and 1,600. Junior Deja Johnson — a newcomer to hurdling — was forced into the 300-meter hurdles by injuries and won the event handily over perennial contender Diggs.

Wilson’s boys were challenged across the board, too. Kelly, who won Monday’s steeplechase, had already won the 800 title before falling to Pendergast in the 3,200. McKinley’s Moses Kennedy swept the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, and Dunbar cruised to victory in the4x400 relay.

But ultimately, Wilson’s depth propelled the Tigers, for whom several individual history-makers combined to write the team a new place in the DCIAA championship meet record books.

“I’ve got a laundry list of kids I’m proud of today,” Wilson Coach Desmond Dunham said. “We had personal bests across the board, boys’ side, girls’ side. They’ve put in a lot of work, practice over the breaks, holidays — it’s just been relentless.”

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