Addresses were exchanged, programs and T-shirts were signed and pictures were snapped.
The United States Youth Games officially ended yesterday in a crowded Gallaudet University Field House, as the athletes, coaches, staff and parents saluted each other, waved goodbye and headed home.
A number of the approximately 1,500 athletes were already wearing individual medals during the morning ceremony, at which the team medals were awarded.
Washington wound up without a single team gold medal, but was consistent. It placed between second and fourth in all but two sports, and wound up no worse than sixth among the 16 teams in any sport. It won silver medals in girls bowling and boys basketball, and bronze medals in boys and girls track and field, tennis and girls basketball.
Birmingham grabbed the most team golds, winning tennis and boys and girls track competitions. It won the boys track competition with 115 points after a recount -- New York was originally named the winner with 107. Baltimore was the only other city to win more than one gold, winning girls swimming and boys basketball.
The other team gold medal winners were New Haven, Conn. (girls bowling), Charlotte, N.C. (boys bowling), Boston (girls basketball), Chicago (volleyball) and New York (boys swimming), which also won five silver medals.
Washington wound up the games Saturday with four individual gold medals in tennis, three from injury defaults and one from girls 15-and-under champion Maria Restrepo. It won several gold medals in track and had top-three finishes in boys and girls basketball. The girls lost to New York, 62-41, in the losers' bracket final to finish third, while the boys lost to Baltimore in the final, 56-53. It was their second loss to Baltimore in the tournament.
"Washington and Baltimore is always a rivalry," Washington Coach Bob Gorham said. "You have to really be up to play Baltimore."
In track and field, Washington had a double winner in Tanya Hughes, who won the long jump (17 feet 4 inches), and the high jump (5-9). Other multiple winners were Baltimore's Sean Morris in the 9-11 long jump (15-6) and 400 meters (58.46), and Newark's Stacy Jordan in the 12-13 100 meters (12.54) and 200 meters (25.31)
Washington's girls also won the 14-15 800-meter sprint medley with a time of 1:48.25. "I thought the competition would be a little tougher," said Monifa Hawkins, 14. "We just got the baton off smoothly, and got it in the zones correctly. Everything went smoothly."
But if there was anything the athletes talked about besides the competition, it was meeting people, sometimes as friends, sometimes not. "It's sad to see so many people go," said Jurine Hatten, 15, a runner from Baltimore.
Many agreed that meeting athletes from other parts of the country seemed more important in the end than who had the most medals.