St. John’s senior Alahna Sabbakhan won the 800-meter run because she was the star of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference track and field championships.
Her team won the title because she ran tired, 10 minutes after her previous race.
To steal a few extra points, Sabbakhan ran the 200-meter final — not a top event for the middle-distance runner headed to the University of Virginia in the fall — at 1:25 p.m. Saturday and finished third. The 800 started at 1:35. Sabbakhan won that by more than a second.
“When you see leadership like that, you don’t have a choice but to step up and understand what it means to be a team player,” St. John’s Coach Desmond Dunham said.
St. John’s was sparked by Sabbakhan, and at the end of Saturday two familiar celebrations played out on the field at Good Counsel. The St. John’s girls and DeMatha boys each celebrated their second straight WCAC championships.
With wins in the 400 and 800, third place in the 200 and a spot on St. John’s second-place 4x200-meter relay team, Sabbakhan was named top performer on the girls’ side.
To pull off the 200-800 double, Sabbakhan conserved energy. Early season invitationals, she explained, are for individuals to go for the best time.
“But then there’s one or two championship meets,” Sabbakhan said. “Those are the meets you save to worry about points and placing instead of time.”
She ran a 2:22.48 in the 800 — 14 seconds behind her seed time of 2:08.47 — and still won. “That’s a good feeling when it pays off,” she said afterward.
The Cadets finished with 145 points. Carroll was second with 128.5, edging Elizabeth Seton (127).
On the boys’ side, DeMatha kept up its dominance. The Stags were not perfect — they dropped the baton in the 4x100-meter relay, and they were disqualified in the 4x200 for passing the baton outside of the exchange zone — but they finished with 151 points, ahead of second-place O’Connell (107).
The Stags were missing a few names from a vintage team, competing without sprinter Nick Cross (hamstring), sprinter Kamari Trotz (hamstring) and hurdler Brandon Turpin (ankle). This was a team that won with its depth, aided by Jaelyn Blanc (who won the long jump and triple jump) and the versatile Caleb Dean (first in the 300 hurdles, third in the 110 hurdles, second in the 100, second in triple jump). O’Connell distance runner Max Greczyn was the boys’ performer of the year.
Stags Coach Buddy Crutchfield said the latest title was “a relief.” He reminded his team of two straight championships and told them, “This is something to celebrate.”
They obliged. Every few minutes, a yell emanated from the athletes’ celebration as they took turns doing cartwheels and backflips across the empty infield.