Draper Invitational: St. Albans runner Tai Dinger nails the 3,200 despite pain

May 4

After running the 3,200-meter race at this weekend’s Draper Invitational, St. Albans senior Tai Dinger sat down in the infield to take his spikes off. That revealed a yellow wrap of gauze secured around his left foot, covering a puncture wound suffered Tuesday. During a practice run on a road near Rock Creek, Dinger stepped on a nail, which contributed to a great deal of pain throughout the week.

He was unsure whether he’d be able to run at this weekend’s meet, which took place at St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes. But on Friday morning, with the pain a little more tolerable, Dinger decided to give it a go.

He didn’t disappoint, either. Running on the ailing foot, Dinger was able to post a personal-best 9 minutes 21.68 seconds in the 3,200, which took place on Friday during the two-day event. Georgetown Day senior Griffin Colaizzi finished second with 9:24.89, trimming 20 seconds off his seeded time.

“With 800 [meters] to go, I decided I could bear it for two laps,” said Dinger, who picked up his speed to pull away near the end.

On Saturday, Dinger came back to win the 800 in 1:53.83. Playing it safe because of his injury, he elected not to run the 1,600, an event Colaizzi won with a time of 4:22.43. Dinger said the injury marked the first time he ran through that kind of pain, though he ranked it a “three or four” on a doctor’s 10-point scale. As the week went on after the injury, the pain eased a bit since the nail didn’t puncture too deep into his foot.


Tai Dinger, in a December 2013 picture for the All-Met cross-country team. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

“It was definitely new,” Dinger said. “My coach and I were definitely cautious. We were day by day.”

Wilson’s girls won the Draper Invitational team meet with 105 points, with McDonogh (91) and Georgetown Day (60.5) filing in behind. On the boys’ side, Georgetown Day (107) picked up the win, with McDonogh (100) and St. Albans (80) rounding out the top three.

Wilson seniors Deonna Diggs and Acey Calhoun were named the meet’s most valuable athletes. Diggs won the 100 hurdles finals (15.00) and also took home first place in the 300 hurdles (45.70). In the 100 hurdles preliminary race, she posted a personal-best 14.60. She also jumped 34 feet 5.5 inches in the triple jump, which was good for third place behind National Cathedral junior Jeryne Fish (36-2.5) and O’Connell senior Ashley Jean (35-6.5).

“We had a meet at Richmond last week (MileSplit.com Elite Track Classic) and I didn’t do well, my head wasn’t in the right place,” said Diggs, who recently signed to run track at George Mason. “I just wanted to PR in everything I possibly could, which I ended up doing in the 100 and 300 hurdles.”

Calhoun, who signed with North Carolina State last week, posted wins in the 200 (22.22), 400 (49.03) and ran the second leg of the Tigers’ 4x400 relay, which placed second with a 3:29.15. Georgetown Day won the relay with a 3:26.81. Calhoun’s last two races — the 200 and 4x400 — ran back-to-back, with his 400 taking place only three events prior.

“I was pretty tired after the 4x400,” Calhoun said. “My legs were tired, but I had to stick it out for my team.”

St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes senior Alison Lindsay trimmed her personal best in the 3,200 by almost 15 seconds, running an 11:00.40 for a decisive win. Her 1,600 race was much closer as she edged Visitation senior Emily Kaplan 5:08.51-5:09.73 at the finish line. It was a memorable weekend for Lindsay, who has attended the St. Stephens/St. Agnes School since kindergarten.

This weekend marked the final time she’d compete on her home track.

“I really love my school,” said Lindsay, who will run cross-country and track at Washington University in St. Louis in the fall. “It means a lot to represent them and do well for them. It’s extra special.”

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