Dondre Echols couldn’t stay until the end of the Mustangs Invitational on Saturday. He had to leave early in order to be on time for his oldest brother’s wedding, where he was the best man.
Echols showed he was the best man before the wedding even started. The Potomac (Md.) senior All-Met won three events at the track and field invitational, including a rare defeat of teammate Ron Darby in the 100 meters, before slipping off and into a tuxedo on a hot day in Forestville.
With the Penn Relays just a few days away, area athletes used Saturday as a final tune-up and Bishop McNamara Coach Keith Chapman made the meet into a miniature version of the real thing. Lively music popped from the speakers, energizing the runners on the track and the near-capacity crowd in the stands. He put rarely-raced events like the sprint and distance medley relays on the program. Athletes from 44 schools cycled through 258 races during 10 hours of competition.
Behind Brielyn Rogers, who won the triple jump with 37 feet 5.5 inches and scored in the 100 hurdles, the girls from McNamara defended their home turf and won the competition easily over Eleanor Roosevelt and Dunbar.
Gilman of Baltimore won the boys’ meet; T.C. Williams and Potomac tied for second.
Echols, who was voted boys’ most valuable performer, had an off-balance start in the 110 hurdles, but dominated the rest of the race before freezing the clock in 13.79 seconds.
A couple of hours later he won the 100 by one-thousandth of a second in a personal-best 10.69. The crowd cheered as he and Darby surged toward the line way ahead of the field, with Echols surprisingly in the lead.
The South Carolina signee had been itching to beat Darby, the 2011 All-Met indoor Athlete of the Year and Echols’s close friend, for almost two years. When the moment finally happened, he refused to talk a little trash.
“Today wasn’t his day,” said Echols, who joined Darby on Potomac’s 4x100 relay team that won in 41.74. “He’s still trying to get into shape” after a groin injury sidelined him for virtually the entire indoor season.
Archbishop Carroll senior Kiah Seymour had never run the 100 hurdles before. Her technique was a little raw, but the All-Met used her superior strength to pull away over the middle part of the race and win easily in 14.46.
In the field, DuVal senior All-Met Mobolaji Adeokun stretched out to 19 feet on her first attempt to win the long jump.
The 400 was another of the more exciting events on the track, on both the girls’ and boys’ sides. Eleanor Roosevelt sophomore Cristeen Anyanwu controlled the race from start to finish and won in a personal-best 56.53.
Riverdale Baptist’s Christopher Tate was scintillating in the boys’ race. He made a big move with about 150 meters to go and froze the clock in a winning 47.99.
Immediately after, the senior took off his spikes and lay flat on his back with his knees up, his stomach rising and falling as his teammates yelled congratulations on the personal-best time.
“It feels good,” Tate said through chopped breathing and a pained look on his face. “It’s so unreal to me that I just did that.”