McKinley Tech junior Denzell Brown only got a few steps into the final leg of the boys’ 4x400 meter relay at Thursday’s D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association track and field championships before he felt his calf tighten up. Grimacing, he willed himself down the stretch with uneven strides, narrowly staving off Theodore Roosevelt’s anchor in the process. Then, he hobbled as close as he could get to the trainers before falling to the turf.
“If I had thought about it physically, I would have stopped running,” Brown said. “My body was shutting down, but my mind wasn’t.”
Pushing through pain has become familiar territory for Brown.
As the starting running back on McKinley’s football team, Brown broke his arm during his sophomore season. This fall, he fractured his ankle during the second game of the year and required significant surgery to repair it. On Thursday, running with 11 screws, one plate and a string to hold his ankle in place, Brown not only helped McKinley win the 4x400 with in a time of 3 minutes 32.35 seconds, but he also took first in the boys’ 100 (10.96), 200 (22.53) and the 4x100 (43.87) on a refreshingly dry afternoon at Spingarn.
“I was just expecting him to come in and compete this season,” McKinley Coach Nathaniel Metts said. “I wasn’t expecting him to do what he’s been doing, that’s for sure.”
After the surgery, Brown spent his time doing one-legged pushups and pool workouts by himself at Turkey Thicket recreation center, all the while envisioning getting back on the track.
“I was just putting myself in the zone, blocking myself out thinking that I was running when I really wasn’t,” Brown said. “I always say if you believe it, you can achieve it. It’s just visualizing.”
Wilson senior Drew Glick was a triple winner in the boys’ distance events, taking the 1,600 in 4:27.45 on Tuesday and both the 800 (1:57.73) and 3,200 to propel the Wilson boys to a team title with 141 points. Eastern placed second with 125, and Ballou (117) was third. Wilson also won the girls’ title with 209 points and was followed by Eastern (170) and McKinley (134).
On the girls’ side, Dunbar’s Ayana Dozier entered the meet with her sights set on breaking the DCIAA triple-jump record of 37 feet 5½ inches. She wasn’t able to hit her mark, but she still came away with a first-place finish at 36-101/4 .
“I can still do it at states,” Dozier said. “But today just wasn’t that day.”
The Norfolk State commit also won the long jump (18-6¾ ) while coming in second in both the 100 hurdles (15.22) and 300 hurdles (45.43).
Meanwhile, Eastern’s Thea Shaw was first in the 100 and 300 hurdles with times of 15.00 and 45.42, respectively. She also won the 400 in a personal-best 57.70 and the high jump (5-2) to claim a total of four titles.
Freshman Destiny Nash won the girls’ open 100 (12.54) and anchored McKinley’s 4x100 team, whose time of 48.82 broke the DCIAA record and qualified for the New Balance Nationals Outdoor. Nash finished third in the girls’ 200 with a 25.85.