-- Even before the final race of the Virginia AAA outdoor track and field championships Saturday at Todd Stadium, Potomac (Va.) senior Mike Vann had had the meet of his career, finishing fourth in the 100 meters and sixth in the 200.
But Vann had an even better performance left in him, running a gutsy anchor leg in the boys' 4x400 relay to lead the Panthers to first place in that event. Vann overcame a 30-meter deficit with a 48-second split, helping the Panthers win in 3 minutes 21.13 seconds, less than a second better than Deep Creek and Western Branch
"I don't know; I surprised myself on that one," said Vann, whose relay teammates were junior Chris Harrison, senior Joshua Rock and sophomore Ebenezer Amegashie. "The dude [from Western Branch] had a big lead, so I just tried to pick it up. When he didn't pick it up, I just kept on running until I got him."
The exciting finale influenced team results, as Vann's win kept Deep Creek from winning the boys' title for the fourth time in five years. Instead, Landstown, which finished fifth in the 4x400, tied Great Bridge for the championship with 52 points. Deep Creek finished with 51 for third.
The two winning teams were led by a pair of juniors whose performances were among the best in the 90-year history of the meet. Landstown was led by Percy Harvin, a heavily recruited football player who accounted for 50 of his team's points -- 40 for winning the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump and 10 for running on the 4x100-meter relay. Great Bridge's Michael Morrison, meantime, set a meet record in the pole vault (16 feet 6 inches), was second in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and long jump and took third in the triple jump.
Hayfield, which got a second-place finish from junior All-Met Christopher Richardson in the 400-meter dash, was the top Washington area finisher with 22 points. Senior All-Met Travis Swaggard was third in the 300 hurdles and eighth in the 200.
On Friday, Herndon's 4x800-meter relay of sophomore Ermin Mujezinovic, seniors Byron Bazemore and Daniel Gordon and sophomore All-Met Abe Dagnachew won the 4x800-meter relay, and Lake Braddock senior All-Met Jon Cowden won the discus.
The only area individual to win a race on the second day of the meet was Oakton senior Jason Vick, who quickly recovered from a second-place finish in the 1,600 meters to win the 3,200 in 9:27.33. Vick accounted for 18 of the Cougars' 19 points, which were good enough for ninth place overall.
In the 3,200, after West Springfield's Mike Spooner set a fast pace that a few other runners maintained, Vick lurked near the middle of the pack before beginning his move in the final 800 meters.
"With maybe 1,000 meters to go, I saw that the first four guys who were leading were starting to slow down, and I was really starting to make up ground," Vick said. "I had saved my energy a little bit, and maybe at the end I could really start closing on them."
Moments after Vick's win, Potomac's 4x400 relay captured the area's other boys' championship.
According to Panthers Coach Steve Petrosky, his team had used six runners in that race before settling on Saturday's quartet. It did not disappoint, with the first three legs leaving Vann in third place for the final 400 meters. And if Vann's anchor lap was surprising to him, it was not to Petrosky.
"He's got a tremendous amount of heart," Petrosky said. "It doesn't matter if he's running against Michael Johnson or whoever, he's just going to go as hard he can."