LOWER MERION >> Smiles were everywhere as the Lower Merion boys track team posed for pictures in the middle of Arnold Field Wednesday after winning the team title at the Central League Track & Field Championships.
“This is icing on the cake,” Lower Merion coach Kevin London said.
Two weeks ago, the Aces wrapped up their first Central League title since 1971 with an undefeated run through the dual-meet portion of the schedule.
The Aces, though, wanted to complete the championship double by winning the team title at the league championship meet and did so with a dominating performance.
Lower Merion piled up 190.5 points thanks to at least one top three finish in all but the shot put and pole vault. Penncrest was second with 82.5 points.
“The kids really bought into the program,” London said. “When the seniors came in as freshmen they said they wanted to set a new standard for Lower Merion track by their senior year and they did. It’s a proud moment.”
Rashaun Cooke won the 400, took second in the 200 and anchored the Aces to a second-place finish in the Nathan Byrd Memorial 4 x 400-meter relay. Davon Tate, his twin brother, Devon, Deion Davis and Ahmad Hall teamed up to win the 4 x 100. Davon Tate also was third in the 200 and the discus. Devon Tate placed third in the 100 and the javelin.
“There’s strength in numbers,” London said. “The best thing about this team is that they’re one of the closest team’s I’ve ever coached. They’ve buddies. No one comes between them. They train together, win together and celebrate together.”
They were able to hold their latest celebration on their home track at Arnold Field.
“It means a lot because we did this together as a team,” Devon Tate said.
The Aces weren’t the only team to go home with some hardware for the first time. Chris Greenwood, Alec Escobar, Chris Barkley and Peter Cooke helped Radnor win the Nathan Byrd Memorial 4 x 400 for the first time.
They can’t wait to get their school’s name engraved on the trophy.
“We’re going to do it as soon as possible,” Barkley said.
Barkley set the stage for a brilliant anchor leg by Cooke, who sprinted to the front with 200 meters to go and held off Lower Merion’s Rashaun Cooke (no relation) to set off a wild celebration.
“I gave it my all,” Barkley said. “Alec told me I had to go out and I did. I wanted to give Peter a good chance to catch the guy in front of him because I knew if he did, he would win it.”
Peter Cooke had a strategy for that final leg.
“My plan was to go out safe because I didn’t know how far back I was going to be and I knew Rashaun was behind me and he was going to be coming fast so I needed to have something left for that last 100.”
After winning the girls long jump, and finishing third in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, Springfield’s Danielle Peyton decided to call it a day and scratched from the triple jump.
“I’m tired,” Peyton said. “I need a nap.”
Peyton’s fatigue was understandable. She won the long jump with a personal best leap of 16 feet, 8½ inches, and went 12.56 seconds in the 100 and 26.43 seconds in the 200.
“I wanted to run 26-low in the 200 and low 12 in the 100,” Peyton said. “That was the plan. I didn’t exactly do it, but I still ran well so I can’t be too upset about it.”
She was thrilled with her performance in the long jump, even though it was just short of the District 1 Class 3A qualifying standard of 16-10.
“I was just into it all day,” Peyton said. “I had the jumps I needed to win it. Usually, my mark is off, but my mark was perfect today. Everything went perfect in the long jump.”
Ridley’s Tony Graham was one of four double winners. He was first in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. Springfield’s Philip Shovlin captured the 100 and 200. On the third side, Cecilia Katcavage of Haverford won the shot put and javelin, while Conesotga’s Grace Lanouette was first in the 100 and 200.
Graham is new to the hurdles, but he comes from good bloodlines. His father, Drew Scott, was an All-Delco hurdler at Strath Haven.
“I train with him in the summer,” Graham said. “There are no days off.”
The Upper Darby girls had a good day in the relays. Anisah Richardson, Michelle Brown-Jones, Sydney Edwards and Michelle Ley turned in their best time of the season (48.77 seconds) to win the 4 x 100. Richardson, Brown-Jones, Tanti Bupov and Tishun Graham won the 4 x 400 in a second best 3:54.87.
“In the beginning of the season it was a lot of trial and error, who was going to do the relay and who was going to do individual events,” Brown-Jones said. “As we’ve progressed, though, it’s starting to come together and we’re really happy with how it’s going.”