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St. John’s holds off Carroll to sweep the DCSAA indoor track titles again

The St. John's boys edged Archbishop Carroll for the DCSAA title. (Julia Nikhinson for The Washington Post)
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After inching into first place at the D.C. State Athletic Association indoor track and field championship meet Tuesday, the St. John’s boys needed at least eight points in the final event, the 4x400 relay, to secure another state title and deny the powerhouse from Archbishop Carroll.

“Coach said if we just get second place, we win,” said sophomore Keenan Frisby, whose win in the 800 meters at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover had been instrumental to the Cadets grabbing the lead. “I don’t really like to lose, so I was going for first.”

When facing a Carroll squad that features Nyckoles Harbor, a top-notch college football recruit bound for South Carolina who doubles as a track superstar, first place is a tough ask. But the Cadets held off a late push by Gonzaga to take second place in the 4x400 and secure the team title with 148 points, edging Carroll by two. Gonzaga was a distant third with 71.

“We knew it was going to be a really tall order against some of the returning athletes that Carroll has,” St. John’s Coach Desmond Dunham said. “It’s just unreal. Every point counted.”

The boys’ win, their third in a row, was the cherry on top after the Cadets girls cruised to their fourth straight title by posting 153 points to runner-up Dunbar’s 108. The girls were led by senior MVP Meredith Gotzman’s distance running and record-breaking performances in the relays.

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“I knew whatever I did was going to hurt,” said sophomore Natasha Mosley, whose final push as anchor of the 4x200 relay helped the Cadets rally to a victory in 1 minute 42.12 seconds that set the meet record, eclipsing their 1:42.46 from last year. “I knew it was going to come down to the line.”

That was the St. John’s girls’ second relay record of the day; their 4x800 squad finished in 9:42.36 to top the old mark by almost seven seconds.

A false start call on the Carroll boys disqualified them from the 4x200 and handed St. John’s a golden opportunity to take charge in the team standings, which it took advantage of by edging Gonzaga. After his team led most of the day, Carroll Coach Rafiu Bakare said falling short of the state title because of a false start hurt.

“I feel robbed,” he said. “But I’m really proud of my kids. ... You had the nation’s fastest team on the track, and it’s not about us — it’s about the kids.”

As expected, Harbor turned in a showstopping performance in the sprints, including a 6.33-second time in the 55 meters that topped his meet record of 6.40 from last year.

“[Falling short of the team title] just makes me more hungry,” Harbor said. “It turns on a bigger and better switch that says I have to become better in all my races.”

Carroll’s Drew Dillard was the field MVP. He took gold in the high jump, long jump, triple jump and 55-meter hurdles.