St. John’s girls, led by youth, capture WCAC track and field title

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With the unrelenting sun beating on her bright red braids, St. John’s freshman Cymia Yourish plopped down on a cooler near the bleachers.

After already claiming gold in the 400 meters, 4×200 relay and 300 hurdles earlier in the meet, her tank appeared to be empty.

But when Coach Desmond Dunham came over to gauge her interest in running a fourth event Saturday at the WCAC championships in Olney, Yourish’s eyes lit up and her inner competitor came to life.

“You said you want to win, right,” Yourish asked Dunham, who nodded. “Then I’m going to go put the finishing touches on this championship. I want MVP.”

Propelled by a blistering final lap from Yourish, St. John’s captured the 4×400 relay title by more than four seconds (3:59.68). The Cadets’ 208.5 points overall were plenty enough to win the team championship over Elizabeth Seton (134) and host Good Counsel (83.5)

“It’s easy to look at Cymia and our other freshman that played a huge role in winning us this champ and say, ‘Wow, those freshmen are so talented,’ ” Dunham said. “But none of what these young ladies accomplished would be possible without the hard work, leadership and foundation that our seniors spent the last four years building here.”

On the boys’ side, DeMatha finished first with 184 points. Archbishop Carroll had 134 and St. John’s scored 132. The Stags were led by senior Dawson Grofan, who won the 800 and 1,600 and was part of the victorious 4×800 relay team. He was named boys’ track athlete of the meet.

“People think it’s easy to win at DeMatha because they know the basketball brand,” Coach Buddy Crutchfield said. “But it’s not; we don’t have track scholarships or tons of resources to lean on. So to go out here and beat some of the talented teams that we just beat is amazing. I’m extremely proud of our guys.”

For the St. John’s girls, Aminah Martin, affectionately referred to by Dunham as the team’s godmother, is one of the seniors who was instrumental in the team’s success. Martin, who won the 100 hurdles and finished second in the 300 hurdles, has served as the glue for St. John’s as it grew to a program with more than 100 participants.

“At all the practices and team events, we just tried to bring the spirit up, and then over the past four years we’ve just seen everybody sort of adopt that mentality, and it’s sort of like our lasting legacy — or at least we hope it continues to carry on,” Martin said. “To see all of our young talent transform from cocky middle schoolers to hardworking teammates that know what it takes to win played a big role in us winning this year has been special.”

Despite going 4 for 4 in her events, Yourish’s quest to be the girls’ track athlete of the meet came up short as Good Counsel senior Leah Stephens took home that honor.

Stephens won the 800 with a big comeback, the 1,600 in a meet record 5:02.12 and also the 3,200.

“I thought she gave it up, but then she roared back,” Good Counsel Coach Richard Hiegel said of the thrilling victory in the 800. “[Leah’s] been practicing that for the last month. It paid off.”

Carroll’s Drew Dillard — who had meet records in the high jump (6 feet 8 inches), long jump (22 feet 3.25 inches) and triple jump (47 feet 2.75 inches) — won boys’ field athlete of the meet.

Elizabeth Seton’s Niya Crawford — meet record 42 feet 8.5 inches in shot put and a victory in discus — won the girl’s field athlete of the meet.

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