Before the boys’ 4x100 meter relay race Thursday night, a Sidwell Friends athlete ran to the starting line at Dunbar High to inform his school’s relay team of the race’s stakes.
Sidwell Friends trailed St. John’s in the team standings at the District of Columbia State Athletic Association outdoor track and field championships, but a win in the 4x100 would give the Quakers an edge.
Sidwell Friends won the race with a time of 44.08, all but sealing the Quakers’ DCSAA boys’ championship in Northwest Washington. St. John’s finished eight points behind Sidwell Friends.
“We really improved in areas we didn’t know we were going to improve,” sophomore Isaac Pickrum said. “That definitely helped. We came into it thinking we could win.”
A year ago, Sidwell Friends only entered about seven boys’ athletes in the DCSAA championships. Coach Michael Cooley took over the program in August and was tasked with introducing track and field to other athletes at the Tenleytown private school. Cooley brought his experience from coaching at South Alabama and focused on improving his athletes’ techniques.
The Quakers put together a well-rounded performance capped by their 4x100 relay victory.
“They bought in,” Cooley said, “and found the extra time to perfect their crafts.”
St. John’s dominated the girls’ side after winning the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title last week. Dunbar finished second.
Senior Alicia Dawson spurred the Cadets with victories in the high jump (5-2), long jump (18-11.25) and triple jump (39-11.50). Dawson entered this season focused on improving her individual events, but as she noticed how strong her team was, she came to revel in team successes.
“The most special part about being a senior is knowing there are other people on this team who will be able to carry the torch when I leave,” said Dawson, who won was chosen girls’ MVP of the meet.
The St. John’s girls, who claimed the DCSAA indoor crown in February, also won the 4x200 and 4x800 meter relays.
Washington Latin junior Luke Tewalt secured the boys’ MVP with victories in the 3,200 meter (state record 9:25.15), 1,600 meter (4:21.19) and 800 meter (1:57.45) races. Tewalt also helped the Lions win the 4x800 meter relay.
Tewalt sought state records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races, but he didn’t expect to win the 800 meter race until the final 200 meters.
“I just felt some fire in me in that last 200,” Tewalt said. “Our school just isn’t somewhere where we produce state championship teams. To be able to do that my junior year, it’s really a dream come true.”