GLENOLDEN >> Keon Rantin of Glen Mills was a man on a mission as he stepped to the starting line for the 200-meter dash final at the Delaware County Track & Field Championships at Interboro’s South Avenue Athletic Complex Saturday night.
Earlier in the evening, Rantin saw his chance of going back-to-back in the 100-meter dash disappear when Springfield’s Philip Shovlin ran a blistering time of 10.77 seconds, the fastest in a Delco Championship meet final since Tom Hopkins of The Haverford School won the 2010 title with a sizzling time of 10.65.
Rantin was not about to go home empty handed.
The senior bounced back and won the 200-meter title for the second year in a row to pace the Bulls to their second straight county team title.
Glen Mills scored 111 points to top Episcopal Academy (74 points) for the overall team title, as well as the American Conference crown. Penn Wood edged Springfield, 92-90, to take home the National Conference title.
Rantin ran his second best time in the 200 (21.61) and his career best in the 100 (10.81) to come away with gold and silver in open competition. He also picked up a silver as the Bulls capped the night with a second-place finish in the 4 x 400-meter relay.
“I felt I needed to push myself after losing the 100,” Rantin said. “And to be able to win the 200 two years in a row at Delcos is a great accomplishment.”
Rantin wasn’t the only Glen Mills athlete to successfully defend his title. Fellow captain Quadir Gibson made it two in a row in the shot put. The Bulls swept the top three spots in the shot as Semaj Robinson was second and D’Amonte Bell was third. Teammate Dvarri McLaurin placed fifth.
“It means a lot to me,” Gibson said. “It’s a great accomplishment. I put in a lot of hard work and this is the result.”
Springfield coach Barry Foster can attest that Shovlin was ready for his showdown with Rantin in the 100.
“He told me (Friday night), ‘I think I can get him,’” Foster said. “He was hyped.”
Shovlin blew out of the blocks, got the lead and never relinquished it.
“I ran my fastest time on Thursday in the prelims (10.99) and that was huge,” Shovlin said. “I never broke 11 (seconds) before and today the adrenaline just got to me. I thing we were both hyped. It was the 100 meters, to see who was the fastest in Delaware County.”
Shovlin won that battle. He also turned in his best time in the 200 (22.27) to take second in that event, but he has his eyes on a bigger prize.
“I want the school record,” Shovlin said. “Andre Nelson ran a 10.64 in 2006. I think I can get it. I’m only a junior so I have another year left.”
The only other time Episcopal Academy’s Matt Freese ran the 300-meter hurdles in a major meet was in the Delco Champs two years ago as a sophomore, and he did OK. Freese was eighth in the preliminary round and fifth in the finals.
Well, he must like running at Delcos because Freese had the moment of his career when he won the intermediate hurdles with a personal best time of 39.45 seconds.
“My plan was to get out to a fast start in the beginning, hold it and give it a burst in the last 50 meters,” Freese said.
It was the first time in his limited track career that Freese actually had a plan heading into a race. Usually, he relied on his athletic ability to pull him through, but he knew that wouldn’t work at Delcos.
“The Glen Mills kid (Rami Marsh) had a good qualifying time and he was inside of me, so I knew I needed to be strong from the start,” Freese said.
EA coach Zach Richards was not surprised with the effort from Freese, who will play soccer at Harvard.
“He’s an absolute freak,” Richards said. “This is only the third time this year he’s run the 300 hurdles and he went out and ran a 39. He’s just a freak.”
As a freshman, Haverford High’s Erik McCallion would go out and run the first leg of the 800-meter run as hard as he could. He quickly found that that he did not have enough gas in the tank to figure in the medals count.
So he has taken a different approach this season as a sophomore.
“I like to hang back,” McCallion said.
“That strategy served him and the Fords well as they took the lead for good in the 4 x 800-meter relay and also enabled McCallion to break the two-minute mark in the 800 for the first time in his career.
McCallion’s burst in the final 40 meters in his leg of the 4 x 800 gave teammate James Abrahams the lead. Abrahams turned that slim margin into a four-second victory over Radnor. McCallion followed that with a third-place finish in the open 800 in 1:58.64.
“I kept burning myself out ,so I knew I had to change,” McCallion said. “It’s worked out pretty well.”
Abrahams’ winning time of 1:55.99 in the 800 also was a personal best. Like McCallion, Abrahams had a plan, which he executed with about 300 meters to go when he pulled ahead of Radnor’s Peter Cooke and never looked back.
“He’s a strong runner and you have to go out and take control,” Abrahams said.
Upper Darby’s Jarnail Dhillon was the overall winner in the 400. Cardinal O’Hara’s Ryan James picked up his second gold medal with a victory in the 1,600. He also was first in the 3,200-meter run Thursday. James Jackson of Chester ran 14.79 to win the 110 high hurdles.
Ridley’s Ben Holder, Liam Thompson, Tony Graham and Abdul Kamara won the 4 x 100, while Talus Gaymore, Dennis Manyeah, Todd Jackson and Inerji Sirleaf of Penn Wood captured the 4 x 400.
In the other field events, Radnor’s Hager Neeb won the pole vault (11-6), while Evan Wildermuth of Penncrest was first in the long jump.