St. Mary’s boys claim 16th straight league title, while girls take sixth in a row as Panthers avoid mistakes
In a result that surprised no one, the St. Mary’s track & field team swept the Bay Shore Athletic League championship meet on Saturday, winning 18 of the 26 events at Piedmont High.
St. Mary’s scored 226 points on the boys’ side, with Piedmont finishing a distant second with 67 points. The Panther girls scored 213 points, again beating Piedmont with 145. Every St. Mary’s athlete with hopes of advancing to next weekend’s North Coast Section Bayshore meet at James Logan High in Union City did so, with a few surprises mixed in.
The Panthers also managed to avoid any unexpected disasters. Last year, thrower Kamaiya Warren fouled on every attempt in the discus despite being one of the state’s best in that event, keeping her out of competition for the rest of the postseason. Warren made her first throw on Saturday flat-footed to be sure of qualifying, then aired it out on the rest of her throws, winning with a toss of 150’10 1/2”.
“I really feel a lot better now,” said the senior, who also won the shotput on Thursday. “I was really nervous this morning. I woke up and thought ‘please don’t let me foul out.’”
Warren was just one of many St. Mary’s athletes to win multiple events. Leon Drummer duplicated her wins in the throwing events, while Solomon Welch won the long and triple jumps along with finishing second in the 110-meter hurdles. Danielle Stokes won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, with the latter a rousing victory over upstart challenger Dana Barbieri of Piedmont. Barbieri had a better time in trials on Thursday, but Stokes pulled away halfway through Saturday’s final to win with a time of 43.97 seconds, nearly five seconds ahead of the Piedmont runner. Stokes also finished second in the long jump.
“I ran in fear of (Barbieri) coming to get me,” Stokes said of the 300 race. “It’s a big deal to me to win every time I go out there.”
Bridget Duffy continued her utter dominance of the BSAL distance events, winning both the 1,600 and 3,200 by huge margins. Courtney Brown won the 100 and 200, with teammate Steve Murphy finishing second in both events. While the two teamed up to help the Panthers win the 4x100 relay to start the day, there was some healthy competition between them in the individual events.
“I was running to qualify (for the Bayshore meet), but Steve pushed me in both races,” Brown said. “I had to put in a kick. He wouldn’t let me rest.”
Other multiple winners for the Panthers included Jason Bolden-Anderson (both hurdles) and Tiffany Johnson (100, triple and long jump). Johnson was particularly impressive, beating a tough field for the 100-meter dash win in 12.05 seconds, then setting a personal best with a long jump of 18’9 1/2”.
St. Mary’s also qualified in all four relays, with the boys winning the 4x100 and 4x400 and the girls coming second to Holy Names in both races.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the meet was the performance of St. Mary’s basketball star DaShawn Freeman. Despite never competing in track in his life, Freeman qualified for the Bayshore meet in the long jump and high jump, finishing second and fourth, respectively. Other surprise qualifiers were Natasha Matteson in the 800, freshman Natty Fripp in the high jump and Tino Rodriguez in the 1,600 and 800. Freshman Willa Porter won the 400 and finished second in the 200, both times edging out runners from Holy Names.
“We had a lot of young athletes who haven’t been in a situation where one loss puts you out for the season,” St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson said. “We wanted them to come in and perform under pressure, and almost all of them did that.”
Lawson couldn’t help but be pleased with his team’s performance in the championship meet. It was the 16th straight league championship for the boys and sixth straight for the girls program, which has only been in existence for seven years. Lawson was especially impressed by his male athletes, many of whom have struggled with injuries this season.
“Each week our guys have gotten better and better,” he said. “Most of our girls were just running to get through, but our boys needed to have a great performance to get their confidence.”
While Lawson’s teams have been challenging for state honors in the past few seasons, he said this season the Panthers have to take it one step at a time.
“Right now we’re just looking towards the Bayshore meet,” he said. “We’ll go down there and compete with Logan and Bishop O’Dowd. We’ll be hard-pressed to beat those teams.”