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GC Falcons Repeat as WCAC Champions
By: Kevin Milsted
webmaster@mocorunning.com
2017-05-21


The Good Counsel boys track team repeated as WCAC team champions in large part due to a grueling six race effort by star runner Darnell Pratt. Pratt smashed the meet record in the open 400m (47.78) and anchored the 4x200m relay to a meet record, 1:26.63. The Good Counsel girls team finished as WCAC runners-up, which was the highest team finish by the Falcons since 2005.

The WCAC Championship is designed to be a two day meet, but lightning delays on Friday night forced almost the entire meet to be contested on Saturday with the start time adjusted from 11:00 AM to 9:00 AM. Pratt's meet was designed to be three races on Friday including the 100m trials, 200m trials, and 4x200m relay, and three races on Saturday including the 100m, 200m, and 400m finals. Instead, due to the weather delays, all six races were pushed to Saturday.

Said head coach Gene Neal, "I really wanted to change it because I thought it was just too much work especially for the sprinters to run back-to-back. I left it up to them. We talked and they said, 'No, coach. We want to do it.' We stuck pretty much to what we started out with."

"I felt pretty good in the morning," said Pratt who clocked 10.81 and 21.39 in the dash trials. His time of 21.39 was less than two-tenths off Maxwell Willis's meet record of 21.22 set the year before.

Turner Roberts, Jonathan Imes, and freshman Savian Barrett also ran trials in the 100m and 200m and each advanced to the finals in their respective events. Then the trio teamed up with Pratt to break the WCAC Championship Meet record and the all-time Montgomery County record in the 4x200-meter relay with a time of 1:26.63. The previous WCAC meet record was 1:26.66 (St. John's, 2015) and the previous top performance in Montgomery County history was Bullis's 1:27.17 set at this year's Millrose Games.

Pratt expressed admiration for his team's improvement over last year. He pointed to the addition of two new runners, Roberts (senior) and Barrett (freshman) for the team's marked improvement. Imes has ascended to become one of the conference's top sprinters this year.

"All of them..." said Pratt. "They just gave a pretty good lead by the time I got the baton."

"It means a lot because we ran pretty fast last year (1:27.98) and for us to beat the time that we ran last year, it's amazing. What we did last year I think was number one in the state and so this was a pretty good time, too."

That 4x200 almost never happened and would not have happened if not for the athletes' desires.

"[Pratt] was one of the athletes I went to first and asked if he wanted me to take him out of the relays so that he'd be strong enough for the individual events...I wanted to change it around but they didn't want to change."

Meet organizers implemented a 90 minute break between the events that were originally scheduled for Friday and the events originally scheduled for Saturday morning. Pratt recovered well enough to take second place in the 100m finals (10.91), break the meet record in the 400m (47.78), and take second place in the 200m finals (21.80).

Eric Harrison Jr. of St. John's College High School was voted the meet MVP for winning the 100m (10.67) and 200m (21.33).

"I started getting a little tired at the end but I just pushed it out to get as many points as I could for my team," said Pratt.

"Darnell had a heavy work load," said Neal. "He was sick to come in the meet. He was not feeling good. Then to have to in one day run [six races], it's a tough day for anybody."

Good Counsel's 161 points finished 31 points ahead of second place St. John's.

Elizabeth Seton (169.33) topped the girls standings for the eleventh consecutive year while Good Counsel took second place with 106 points.

Elizabeth Seton's WCAC Championship winning streak is well-documented. You have to go back to 2006 when Bishop McNamara won the title to see the last time that the Roadrunners did not finish on top. What is probably less known is that Bishop McNamara finished as WCAC runners-up in the female competition for ten straight years, which means that no team had broken up the top two stalwarts since 2005 when Good Counsel last won the title.

"I was more excited about that than the boys because I didn't expect that," said Neal. "We really didn't have the super-superstar athlete girls, but everybody pitched in and stepped up and did what they had to."

Good Counsel's only individual female victory came from Hilerie Knights who won the 1600m in 5:18.92. Good Counsel also won the 4x800-meter relay in 9:55.58. Otherwise Good Counsel climbed the standings with bunches of top five finishes.

"It's just fantastic," said Neal. "I mean, it's unbelievable. The girls worked hard and it's paid off. They stuck it out. Everybody did what they had to do and everything came out the way it should have."





Article Comments - Add A Comment

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Ehab Abutaleb
2017-05-28 12:36:26

Way to go Coach Gene!!!

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