Saturday at the state track and field championships
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.
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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.