In Wheaton, Maryland, Walter Johnson, Damascus, and of course, Wheaton squared off to open the regular season in Outdoor track. Missing batons, out-of-place hurdles, shared lanes in sprinting events made up this chaotic track meet. The weather, too, was rather unforgiving. It was a very cold day and windy at times which made it even more numbingly brutal.
The boys’ 110 and 300 hurdles were dominated by Sam Weeks of Damascus. The next big event was the 3200 meter relay which combined both girls and boys. However, there was a slight delay due to an apparent lack of batons. This prompted the Walter Johnson “B” team to slap hands instead of the traditional passing the baton. It was all OK though because the show went on. And as expected, Walter Johnson and Damascus had a great duel in what would be considered one of the deciding events in this very important opening dual meet. Bryson Harris led off for the Walter Johnson ‘A’ team. Harris is one of the lesser-known yet more versatile athletes in the county. He does cross country for WJ as well as a hurdles and runs up to the 800 during track. The leadoff for Damascus, Ben Constantinides did an excellent job of taking the race out (see the open 800) yet he could not hold off a surging Harris whose kick was too great to compete with. Harris handed off to Asger Klocker a talented transfer from Denmark in his first year of running. He was unable to hold off Damascus’ Bryan Baude and he took the lead. Their third leg got a few second lead on sophomore Anthony Popiel who was able to regain the lead for Walter Johnson while Ian Stanhope had a very tough time hanging on. Popiel gave anchor Jared Schneider a very large lead over Damascus anchor Lucas Weeks with which he was able to cruise in a pretty easy 2:09. Damascus girls won the 4x8 while Wheaton appeared to have held off Walter Johnson for second place for girls.
The next highlight of the meet came in the 1600 meter run. Now when you think of the 1600 meter run, you would most likely think two of the most reputable and talented athletes of the county in Wil Zahorodny and/or Chris Moen would be racing in this. However, they sat this one out and this allowed us to get a good look at the up and coming runners. This brings me to sophomore Anthony Popiel who held onto a very slow pace going out in around 2:35. His second 800 closed very fast and he finished in around a 4:55, holding off a surging Damascus runner. Stephanie Alberico of Walter Johnson cruised for the win on the girl’s side.
The 4x2 was very interesting on the boys’ side. Now usually, as a distance runner myself, honestly I have never paid much attention to the sprints. But this one was definitely one of the most interesting I have seen. The race started out smoothly with Damascus, Walter Johnson and Wheaton practically all neck and neck. It was all smooth until Damascus’ ‘A’ team second leg dropped the baton. Then on the following straight away, a Walter Johnson ‘B’ team sprinter fell not once but twice. This left Walter Johnson and Wheaton to battle for the win and the glory. Going into the final handoff, Wheaton had managed to earn quite the lead on Walter Johnson. Peter Vandercreek of Walter Johnson, however, did not give up. He caught the Wheaton sprinter by the final straight away and every runner on both teams were cheering like crazy. The two sprinters battled neck and neck until the finish line yet…the Wheaton runner was able to hold off Vandercreek. It should also be noted that Wil Zahorodny ran in this and made up decent ground on Walter Johnson and Wheaton.
Next was the open 400 which also featured Wil Zahorodny. Zahorodny ran in a very solid time of 51.4. The possibility of going sub 50 is very vivid. Next was the 3200. Again, Wil Zahorodny sat out this distance event, evidently focusing on sprinting events. This event, however, was Chris Moen’s only event. He cruised for the win in a 10:30. In second was teammate Brian Graves who fell off the early pace, which Moen set, in a 10:43. Third was freshman Ishan Dey in 10:55. He out-kicked Ben Constantinides in their rematch from regionals.
The last major event was the 800. There was some nice teamwork in this won. Following Zahorodny’s request, teammate Jon Constantinides (the twin of Ben Constantinides) took out the 800 in an astounding pace. On the second and final lap, Zahorodny slowly took over the lead and finished with a nice kick and a mediocre 2:06. It came down to a very intense kick between Constantinides and Popiel. Popiel prevailed.
Damascus 116 Wheaton 20
WJ 82 Wheaton 45
Damascus 85 WJ 52
Damascus 111 Wheaton 25
WJ 73 Wheaton 55
Damascus 80 WJ 57