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Third Annual DCC Championship Recap
By: Kevin Milsted

It was the kind of day where star athletes might pack it in and wait for another day with more ideal conditions. Temperatures hovered in the mid-50's and it rained for the entire four hour DCC Championship Meet. When Blair's "A" 4x800 relay jogged to a 9:26.4 to begin the meet, it looked like it was going to be one of those days (the same runners recorded an 8:08 performance two weeks prior).

After jogging his leg of the 4x800 relay, Blair's state champion 800-meter runner Thierry Siewe Yanga truthfully was not planning to put forth a hard effort in the open 800, but the team points mattered to him and he got swept up in the competitive spirit of the rematch against Northwood's Eldon Phillips. Phillips had defeated Siewe Yanga in the open 800m at the Viking Invitational two weeks earlier.

"I wasn't planning on going for the win. I was just planning on going for second or third," said Siewe Yanga. "My shins have been really hurting me really bad even I had doubts about running it."

The race began inauspiciously. It was a crowded field and the race was recalled twice, once for runners running inside lane one, and again when a runner in the pack tripped in the first fifty meters. In between two restarts, the starter's pistol malfunctioned and shells had to be changed out. On the fourth try, the race finally had a clean start and Northwood's Phillips darted to the front.

Siewe Yanga recalled, "I said, 'Okay, I'm just going to try to hang with him as long as I possibly can. If I feel good, then I'm going to pass him.'"

The runners came through the first lap in about 57 seconds and Siewe Yanga said that he was feeling good so he passed Phillips to take the lead with 300 meters to go. Phillips was unable to muster a comeback and the two powered home to record the top two performances in DCC Championship history: 1:56.1 and 1:58.3.

"Not bad, but not really where I want to be," said Siewe Yanga. "That's kind of a confidence booster...hopefully championship season I can hopefully do the same thing like I did last year."

Sprinters are affected the most when the weather turns dreary. Kennedy High School's Raynard Bell would have been justified to back off from a 100% effort, but he gave it everything he had despite less than ideal conditions. Bell smashed meet records in the 100m and 200m in 10.6h and 22.5h.

"I just go out there and compete, but to be honest I really hate competing in cold weather," said Bell. "I just feel like I can't do my full potential in cold weather, so I always prefer the heat, but either way I always try my best."

Bell will be considered one of the favorites in the sprints at Wednesday's County Championship Meet. He has the fastest automatic times in the county this season (10.85/21.74), but several challengers will be there to claim the title of MoCo's Fastest Man if he has an off day.

"I want to go there and do my best," said Bell. "I really want to win but even if I don't, I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of my team and I thank my coach the most for putting me through the hard work to get there."

Blair High School's Morgan Casey knew that she would be running out front all alone in the open 800m, and furthermore there was no doubt that she would take down the previous meet record of 2:25. Casey was the indoor county champion in the 800m and posted a personal best 2:17.2 in a dual meet earlier this season. Despite little competition in her signature event, Casey found meaning in the race beyond racing for the win or even for the record.

"I set a very lofty goal for myself trying to run a 2:14," said Casey after the race.

She was visibly disappointed immediately following the race in which she set the new meet record in 2:18.9. She explained that she tried to run a more controlled race than when she clocked 2:17, but it just was not there.

"I was just trying to go for that 2:14 but even from the get go just was not hitting it. I ran a 2:18 supposedly so that's one second off my PR so in reality I can't really be all that disappointed. It's just tough when you set goals for yourself but don't meet them. Me and Yasmine [Paint Branch's Yasmine Kass] are trying to go for 2:14, the nationals qualifying time, at counties on Wednesday. So I'm really excited."

The Blair girls were dominant in the longer distance races and Blair's Josephine Brane-Wright led the way. Brane-Wright felt that she had been in a rut due to illness and poor weather, but the rainy weather was no obstacle for her on Saturday. She came in prepared knowing exactly what she wanted to accomplish and the result was a big PR in the 1600-meter (5:17.5) and a new meet record in the 3200m (11:33.3).

Said Brane-Wright, "I'm actually really excited. I've been in a little bit of a rut lately so it's refreshing to PR again and get those times. It's been cool to a set a record that will hopefully last for a little while."

The competition will obviously be much tougher at the upcoming county and regional championship meets, but the 5:17/11:33 double makes her more than competitive relative to the rest of the county field. Breaking out of "a rut" gives her confidence looking ahead to greater competition.

"It's good to come back and feel good about my race again," she said.

"We are top-heavy," said Einstein head coach Eric DaSilva, speaking on behalf of all DCC schools. Dasilva has been the meet director and champion of the Down County Consortium Championship Meet since its inception in 2015.

"We have events were there are county champions participating in this. I think the boys 100, the boys 800, some of the girls races, Morgan Casey...I think you see some things where you go, 'Okay, we're pretty good there.' Maybe we're not as deep as some of the other teams, but the fact that everyone came out and participated bodes well for us. Hopefully it will help us grow the sport...I think everybody gets something out of the meet and that's the important thing."

Casey offered the student perspective on the DCC Championship Meet and echoed DaSilva's positive attitude.

"I really enjoy this meet," said Casey. "Definitely [it's] a good intro into championship season. Honestly, it's just fun to run against kids that we've been friends with since elementary or middle school, and it's really just kind of cool to see who's good at what. In reality all these teams are family and it's like family competitiveness."

CLERICAL NOTES: In case anybody chooses to double check this year' meet scoring, do not expect the scores to add up in the traditional way.

Excerpt from 2017 meet program:

This year the coaches decided to change the scoring of the meet. The past two years, the teams with the most competitors won the meet. Seeing as that creates some inequity, the coaches decided this year to change the scoring. In a traditional meet, events are scored 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, with individual and relay events scoring the same. For this meet, the team scores will be calculated in this manner:

In any relay event, a school can score one relay. A team may have more than one relay team compete, but only one will score.

In individual events, we have a couple of different scenarios. If all five schools have competitors, then each team will have one athlete who scores and whichever team has the heist placing 2nd athlete, then receives points for that place.

If there are events where not every team has a competitor, then each team who competes will have one athlete guaranteed to score and all of the other points are available to the other athletes.

We hope this will give every team a chance to win the team title, even if the numbers of kids on the team are not as large as those on other teams.

Now, this writer is an engineer by profession and I consider myself a person that is quick to grasp mathematical concepts. It still took me a minute to wrap my head around this scoring system. It is outside of the box and the DCC gets points for creativity. It did indeed create parity in the team scoring in the boys competition. Final scores were much closer than they otherwise would have been. Blair three-peated as boys DCC Champions with 112 points, but three teams were close behind with Einstein 102, Kennedy 93, and Northwood 90. There was simply no slowing the Blair girls who won the competition for the first time with 161 points ahead of second place Wheaton with 91.


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