Dunbar’s London Freeland lurked behind a pack of Wilson runners heading into the final lap of the 1,600 meter Thursday. She hadn’t lost an event all afternoon — and though she gave off the appearance that she was lagging in the final race of her grueling day at the DCIAA Track and Field City Championships, it turned out to be just an illusion.
Her legs visibly shaking, Freeland turned the after-burners on and rallied to win her fourth gold medal to help lift the Crimson Tide girls to an overall title at Spingarn High School.
“I was just running my race, running my pace, staying with them . . . making sure they didn’t get too far,” Freeland said. “I have enough stamina that I know that I can use my speed at the end and just finish.”
The Crimson Tide boys also won convincingly Thursday, led by multiple wins from sprinter Michael Smith and a commanding victory in the 4x400 meter relay. Wilson and H.D. Woodson tied for second in the boys’ competition, while the Tiger girls swept both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays to finish just 15 points shy of Dunbar after the dust had settled in Northeast Washington.
Having already claimed first place in the 300 hurdles championship heading into Thursday, Freeland was expected to put on a show on the final day of the DCIAA’s track season, running the 400, 800 and 1,600 all within a couple hours. She was vigilant about hydrating and keeping her legs elevated between races — and it was clear from the outset that the routine gave her just enough juice. In the 400, Freeland (57.90) rallied to edge teammate Mecca Brown by a second, and did the same in the 800 (2:23:55) against teammate Nalo Fauntroy. In her third and perhaps most wild race of the day, the 1,600, Freeland (5:38:51) kicked past Wilson freshman Asia Amis in the final 200 meters to win by less than a second.
“Going from one event to the next, you get kind of tired,” Freeland said. “We have a lot on our shoulders . . . it was just a lot of pressure.”
The boys’ championship had no shortage of multiple title winners, including Wilson junior Acey Calhoun (100, 200) and Theodore Roosevelt’s Abdur-Rahmaan Kelly (800, 1,600, 3,200 1,500 meter steeplechase).
Dunbar took control behind Smith’s sensational afternoon. He won the 110 hurdles (14.80) Thursday to go with the title he won earlier in the week in the 300 hurdles and crowned off his afternoon with close wins in both the 400 dash (49.77) and triple jump.
His win in the 400 included some drama. Smith
was feeling a deep burn in his left quad, which he strained three weeks ago. He went through rehab with a trainer to get ready for the DCIAA meet, he said, and took a week off of training. That allowed him a fresh start for the three-day event, but he could feel it cramping up as he came down the home stretch, neck-and-neck with Spingarn’s Garrett Washington.
“That was the only thing I was worried about, not being able to perform fast with my leg injury,” Smith said. “The dude from Spingarn, I saw him in my peripheral view, and I was just like, ‘Pump, pump, pump. You know you’re stronger than him. Just pump.’”