Satur­day at the state track and field cham­pi­onships

Record Observer - - Front Page - By WIL­LIAM HAUFE

BAL­TI­MORE — Matt Ko­let­sky never liked run­ning.

That opin­ion slowly changed dur­ing his fresh­man year at Cam­bridgeSouth Dorch­ester High af­ter he broke his el­bow wrestling.

“I thought it was kind of dumb,” Ko­let­sky said of run­ning. “But I had no other choice but to do it be­cause I liked com­pet­ing. And my (older) brother (Jeff) con­vinced me to come out.”

Four years later, Ko­let­sky has quite a dif­fer­ent opin­ion.

“I think it’s ac­tu­ally one of the best things that’s hap­pened to me,” Ko­let­sky said Satur­day af­ter win­ning the Class 1A boys’ 800-me­ter ti­tle at the state track and field cham­pi­onships at Mor­gan State Univer­sity, giv­ing the se­nior his fourth state ti­tle this school year.

“When he joined cross coun­try he thought it was like so stupid,” said Cam­bridge-SD head coach Lois Narr, smil­ing while re­call­ing one of her first mem­o­ries of Ko­let­sky. “He didn’t come to camp or any­thing be­cause he just thought it was id­i­otic. Af­ter a cou­ple races we re­al­ized he was pretty good, even at that dis­tance.”

And he’s proven to be pretty good at shorter dis­tances as well.

The an­chor for the Vik­ings’ 3,200-me­ter re­lay team that won the state ti­tle Thurs­day, Ko­let­sky went into Satur­day’s 800 with the idea of play­ing fol­low the leader early. But that plan was soon scrapped when he moved right to the lead head­ing into the back straight­away on the first lap.

“I ac­tu­ally was go­ing to let peo­ple take it out,” Ko­let­sky said. “But my coach was telling me if it’s not fast enough then I have to keep the pace to my­self. No one cut into lane one fast enough so I took it and didn’t look back.”

Ko­let­sky set­tled into the lead po­si­tion and opened a nar­row, but far from com­mand­ing gap, through the open­ing lap. He stretched his advantage slightly on his sec­ond trip down the back­stretch but ad­mit­tedly started fight­ing him­self with about 200 me­ters re­main­ing.

“I couldn’t hear

noth­ing at all, ex­cept my own thoughts,” Ko­let­sky said. “Com­ing into that turn [point­ing to­ward the curve at 200 me­ters] I thought to my­self, ‘Oh my God, I need to stop right now or I’m go­ing to die.’ And I was like, ‘I can’t do it. Not my last high school race.’ I wanted to give up so bad.”

Ko­let­sky didn’t give up, or fade, cross­ing the fin­ish line in a per­sonal-record time of 1 minute, 58.06 sec­onds to beat run­ner-up Dono­van McClel­lan (1:59.23) of Boons­boro and third-place Tyreke Thomp­son (1:59.52) of Fair­mont Heights.

Ko­let­sky, who won the 800 and an­chored the win­ning 3,200 re­lay at this year’s state in­door cham­pi­onships, gave Cam­bridgeSD its first in­di­vid­ual outdoor cham­pion since Jes­sica Narr won the girls’ 1,600 and 3,200-me­ter ti­tles in 2014, and be­came the Vik­ings’ first male cham­pion out­doors since Nicky Pur­nell ral­lied to beat Eas­ton’s Mark Brown for the 300-me­ter hur­dles cham­pi­onship in 1985 for Class B (now Class 2A).

“I didn’t pre­pare well at all for this first race be­cause I had no events all day un­til now,” Ko­let­sky said. “I didn’t pre­pare as good as I should have. That’s why I’m in pain now; I’m dy­ing over here. But once I got past that (turn) my mind­set of ‘I can’t stop’ car­ried me into the fin­ish. It’s even bet­ter than the four by eight.”

“He ran his heart out,” Narr said.

As did Kent Is­land’s Bran­don Ni­chols ear­lier Satur­day while tak­ing run­ner-up hon­ors in the 2A boys’ 3,200 me­ters, which was orig­i­nally sched­uled for Thurs­day, but was cancelled be­cause of the thun­der­storm that rolled through Bal­ti­more.

Ni­chols and team­mate Erick Sanchez ran fourth and fifth, then dropped to fifth and sixth through the early and mid­dle laps of the race as Calvert’s Justin Diehl moved into the lead.

“I knew it was fast,” Ni­chols said of the pace. “We hit that sec­ond lap, Diehl kind of took the lead, I knew we were way ahead of what I thought we were go­ing to be. I wasn’t sure what I was go­ing to kind of do, be­cause at that point I was al­ready fur­ther up than I thought I was go­ing to stay. Me and Erick were kind of in the same place for awhile, and he was hang­ing in.

“Then we hit the first mile, 4:40, re­ally fast, and that’s when I kind of set­tled into a real pace again, started drop­ping back a lit­tle bit,”’ Ni­chols said. “And then I hit those last two laps with ev­ery­thing I had.”

Ni­chols made a big move on the bell lap, pass­ing every­one ex­cept Diehl — who won in 9:32.79 — and pushed down the fi­nal stretch be­fore rais­ing his arms in cel­e­bra­tion and then col­laps­ing with a new school record 9:36.61 that broke Kent Is­land’s old mark of 9:43.74 held by Casey Lyons.

“That’s a 20-sec­ond PR. I didn’t think I could do that,” said Ni­chols, whose pre­vi­ous best was 10:04. “My goal was sub-10; never thought it was go­ing to be in the 30s. That was next year’s goal.”

For the sec­ond time in three days, North Caro­line’s Ja’Mion Franklin left think­ing about of his goal for next year — win­ning the 2A boys’ shot put and dis­cus ti­tles.

Sec­ond in the shot put Thurs­day to Here­ford se­nior Mike Nash, Franklin fin­ished run­ner-up to Nash again yes­ter­day in the dis­cus, with an ef­fort of 156 feet, 10 inches to the even­tual cham­pion’s 160-11.

“This week the com­pe­ti­tion was def­i­nitely higher, which drove me more,” said Franklin, who had not lost in the shot or dis­cus this sea­son prior to states. “I had some prac­tice com­ing into this week and that’s al­ways a plus. I was re­ally de­ter­mined this week.

“I hate los­ing,” Franklin said. “I was sec­ond, so that was the first loser in both. I didn’t throw as good as I wanted to. I know I’ve got more in me and I know I’m ca­pa­ble of throw­ing bet­ter and per­form­ing bet­ter. It’s just driv­ing me for next year. I got to get bet­ter.”

Cam­bridge-SD’s Des­tiny Fran­tum, Ja­nee Qualies, Bri­anna Wongus and Ronke Oy­erinde were lead­ing the fast heat of the girls’ 1A 800 re­lay when a mis­cue on the ba­ton ex­chang took them first to an even­tual fourth­place fin­ish. That same group re­bounded though, to place sec­ond in the 400 re­lay in 51.42.

“They re­cov­ered from it and it’s great that they placed sec­ond,” Narr said.

North Caro­line’s 1,600-me­ter re­lay team of Katie Saathoff, Kyra Schul­ties, Emily Lewis and Lizzy Wal­ston came out of the slow heat to place sec­ond over­all in a school-record 4:06.03 — with Lib­erty tak­ing first place in 4:05.19.

Saathoff stayed in con­tact with a large crunch of run­ners at the first ex­change and Schul­ties made a big pass, mov­ing into sec­ond place be­fore hand­ing off to Lewis.

“I think I started way too fast, but I knew I needed to keep up just to keep my po­si­tion,” Schul­ties said. “Then when we came around to the 300-me­ter mark I knew I just needed to push.”

Lewis needed about half a dozen steps be­fore mov­ing into the lead and keep­ing it be­fore hand­ing off to Wal­ston, who wasn’t go­ing to be chal­lenged.

“Af­ter see­ing how all my girls did, I just had to go out there and re­lax; run what I run,” said Wal­ston, the lone se­nior on the re­lay. “Them run­ning what they did mo­ti­vated me so much more be­cause I knew I needed to run for them. And (head coach Glen) White­ley wanted us to break the school record and I knew I just had to go out there and do it.

“It’s un­be­liev­able,” Wal­ston said of the record­set­ting per­for­mance in her fi­nal high school race. “I feel like I’ve worked so hard to get here and now I’m here and I can say I broke a school record.”

Like North Caro­line’s Franklin, Colonel Richard­son’s Dar­rion Speller was al­ready look­ing for­ward to next year af­ter plac­ing third in the 1A boys’ triple jump with a leap of 42 feet, 7 inches.

“My sec­ond phase has to get bet­ter,” Speller said. “My first phase is ter­rific, but my sec­ond phase is not that good.”

Snow Hill’s Emily McAl­lis­ter won the 1A girls’ 1,600 me­ters with a time of 5:16.67.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Bil­l_Haufe. Email me at


Kent Is­land’s Bran­don Ni­chols raises his arms in cel­e­bra­tion af­ter set­ting a new school record and fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the 2A boys’ 3,200 me­ters Satur­day at the state track and field cham­pi­onships.


Queen Anne’s Cordell Rogers, sec­ond from right, pushes for the fin­ish line dur­ing his heat of the 2A boys’ 400 me­ters at Satur­day’s state track and field cham­pi­onships.

Queen Anne’s She­qoya Moore, left, breaks from the start­ing blocks dur­ing the 400 me­ters at Satur­day’s state track and field cham­pi­onships. Moore fin­ished sev­enth.

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