There have been many great Dunbar boys track and field teams through the years, but this season’s edition wasn’t one of them. But there is something in common they all share: state championships.
Winning just one event and not placing higher than fourth in seven others, Dunbar pulled off the unlikely on Saturday, out-pointing Division II runner-up Warrensville Heights 33-30 at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
That was the crowning achievement in a spectacular display of area track and field talent that included Meadowdale’s Wayne Lawrence Jr. narrowly missing a rare sprint triple and surprising Anna relegating neighboring rival Minster to its third straight girls D-III state runner-up.
Dunbar was missing all the star power that had produced nine previous boys state track team titles, including four since 2012. The Wolverines’ only event win was in the 4x100-meter relay (42.41). But Dunbar kept pecking away by placing fourth on Friday in the 4x800 relay, adding fifths in the high hurdles, 100 and 800 and a seventh – worth two points – in the 300 hurdles.
Another seventh by Keyshawn Jones in the 200 put Dunbar in the lead for good and yet another by seventh from the meet-ending 4x400 relay padded a one-point lead.
“It wasn’t the prettiest, the way we usually do it,” admitted Dunbar coach Sidney Booker amid back-slaps and hugs from assistant coaches and the Wolverines. “We nickled and dimed our way to a state championship and that’s all that matters.”
Dunbar’s 10th outdoor title – the Wolverines have multiple combined Divisions II-III indoor titles – ties it with Jefferson for the most by an area boys team.
It also comes amid a tumultuous school year in which Dunbar’s football program was denied a spot in the postseason for using an ineligible player and accusations of “throwing a game” in the football season led to an unprecedented three-year athletics probation of all Dayton Public Schools and a $10,000 fine by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
“More than anything, our kids at Dunbar have been through a lot this (school) year,” Booker said. “This victory and this trophy is redemption for our kids at Dunbar and for Dayton Public Schools. We’re resilient.”
• Lawrence’s hope of becoming the first sprint triple winner since 2006 was dash early when he placed second in the 100 (10.79) to Demetri Keaton of Warrensville Heights, who reset his own all-time D-II state record from Friday’s semis (10.57).
Lawrence answered by narrowly missing the 400 state record (46.67), then blasted a 21.29 in the 200. That snapped one of the meet’s oldest D-II records set by Kevin McBroom of Columbus Wehrle in 1981.
“It’s heartbreaking, but I can’t be mad,” said Lawrence, who’ll run at the University of South Dakota next season. “I actually did better than I thought I would. Coming here and doing something for the city of Dayton, trying to triple, it’s a great experience. I just love it.”
Lawrence accounted for all of Meadowdale’s 28 points, which was good enough for third as a team.
Stivers grad Tyler Johnson also missed out on a sprint triple last season by placing second in the D-II 100.
• Anna scored in just four events and needed to beat Minster by several places in the final 4x400 relay. Fueled by super senior Kennedey Glover, Anna met that challenge and edged Minster 38-36 to win its first girls track title.
Glover ran on the winning 4x200 (1:42.15) and 4x400 (3:56.31) relays, placed first in the 800 (2:13.12) and also ran on the runner-up 4x100 relay.
“I’ve been coaching indoor track and football for 30 years and she’s by far the toughest, most aggressive athlete I’ve ever seen,” said first-year Anna coach Bryan Rioch, formerly the Rockets’ head football coach.
Minster had placed runner-up to Canton’s St. Thomas Aquinas the last two seasons. In all Minster owns 12 girls state track titles and has placed second a half-dozen times.
• Thomas Worthington (D-I) and East Canton (D-III) also won boys team titles. Other girls team winners were Cincinnati Withrow (D-I) and Cleveland Beachwood (D-II).
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