Photo Finish: Hoppers win state title in final relays

Sarah Pillard

On May 28th Georgetown Day’s track team narrowly swept the DC State Championship. The women’s team won by a margin of 2.33 points, edging out Eastern High School in the last two relays of the day–the 4x100m and the 4x400m. The men’s team won by a single point and, for the third year in a row, beat Woodrow Wilson High School.

The District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA) has been holding “State” Championships for the past four years. For three of those four years a portion of the GDS track team has stayed past the conference championships to train for DC states. At this meet, GDS competes against schools they rarely see and larger public schools out of the MAC/ISL league often provide tougher competition. The meet, held at Gallaudet University, spanned two of the hottest days this year. “Stay hydrated” was a constant refrain from coaches, captains, and meet officials. Even with the sun beating down, GDS athletes could be seen spread all around the outside of the track, cheering on their teammates, warming up, or stretching after a race. Parents and alumni came out to watch the last meet of the year and filled the stands along the final straightaway.

At the start of the meet, many knew that the GDS team would be competitive. “I truly believed that going into the meet that there was a possibility of winning for the girls team,” said senior Lauren Tappan. Junior Erkin Verbeek said “We had this moment of realization where we were like we could actually win this.”

On the first day there was already an air of excitement surrounding the meet but the heat and extended season put a damper on things. The next day, which was five degrees cooler and, for most, the last day of the track season, felt more like a championship meet. Starting with jumps and throws, GDS was already competitive. Seniors Aminah Isiaq and Malayna Nesbitt both scored in the girls’ discus, taking third and eighth, respectively. On the boys team, all three shotput throwers, junior Alan Jinich, senior Matthew Ishimaru, and sophomore Abe Atwood, brought it points. The excitement that started with the field events early on certainly carried on throughout the day. After almost every event, GDS athletes stood at the podium, working to get the team into the top mix of DC schools. When the last couple of events rolled around, the meet was close on both sides. With the 4x100m and 4x400m to go, the GDS girls were in third and the boys second.

As any sprinter knows, some of the most crucial moments of the 4x100m relay are the handoffs. In the girls 4x100m relay, both Eastern and Wilson teams were disqualified for baton drops, and GDS came in second. With those points, the team rose to first place with one event to go.

On the boys side, things were no less exciting. GDS and Wilson, competing for first place, were put in different heats, which meant they would only be racing the clock. The Wilson team won their heat in 3:31, leaving the GDS team with only a time to race against. Completely alone for the entire race, the GDS team also won their heat but narrowly beat Wilson with a time of 3:29.

These races may have made up the final points that brought the team to victory and for that reason they were some of the most exciting of the day. But it was the consistent effort throughout the day that won both teams the State Champion title. “This championships was a great example of how every point matters,” Coach Anthony Belber commented, “To win by a point or two or three after 17 events just drives home the point that every effort, every cheer, every race, every jump is valuable.”