The BCAA track and field championships at Dillard High on Friday night had a lot of suspense for the team title on the boys’ side and very little for the girls.
The St. Thomas Aquinas boys edged out Blanche Ely by half a point with the difference coming down to a photo finish on the final event, and Northeast won the girls’ team title much more easily.
Going into the 1,600-meter relay, the Raiders led the Tigers by 3 1/2 points. The easiest way for Ely to win would have been to finish first in the relay and have one other school top St. Thomas’ time to overcome the necessary deficit.
Making things even zanier, the relay was being run in two heats and St. Thomas was in the first, slower one, so the two couldn’t even run against each other at the same time.
The Raiders did their job, winning the first heat in 3:21.18 — a record time for their relay team. In the second heat, it was playing out just like Ely needed, neck-and-neck with Dillard where the Panthers could supply that other time the Tigers needed ahead of St. Thomas.
But Dillard won it by .04 seconds. For finishing second, Ely got eight points in the event. St. Thomas Aquinas’ time was good enough for fourth and five points.
Only three points were made up, and St. Thomas Aquinas won the team title by half a point.
St. Thomas Aquinas coach Alex Armenteros, while properly instructing his Raiders to run faster than the time needed to beat out the groups they were going up against in the first heat, said he watched the photo finish between Ely and Dillard more as a fan than in regards to its implications for his team’s BCAA title.
“It’s about the kids competing,” Armenteros said. “I knew it was going to be close, and if they fought that hard and they would’ve won, then they deserved it.”
Northeast didn’t need nearly as much drama to handle the girls’ competition, beating out second-place St. Thomas Aquinas 159-101 and winning six individual events in the process.
The Hurricanes, who finished third at BCAA last year rode two freshmen and a sophomore to the title.
Freshman Jan’Taijah Ford won two events and Amaya Thomas won the 100-meter hurdles, and sophomore Nia Lecky took the title in the 100-meter dash.
“You just want to groom them and get them ready. They’re really blossoming this year,” said second-year coach Duchane Thomas, who took over after several successful seasons at Boyd Anderson.
“For some of them, it’s the first time getting the proper training they need. For me, it’s building their confidence, letting them know that they can do it, letting them believe in themselves. Once they put the work in and stay healthy, the results show on the track.”
The girls weren’t the only ones to succeed on Friday for Northeast. Junior Damion Thomas could not best his 13.74 in the 110-meter hurdles last year, but the No. 1 hurdler in the country was still able to win the event in what he called a “sloppy” race, recovering from hitting an early hurdle.
Senior St. Thomas Aquinas long-distance runner Alexa Cruz was a double winner, with titles in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
She won both against Dillard’s Brittany Gill, edging her out by just over a second in the 1,600 to go back-to-back after winning as a junior and finishing second as a sophomore.
Gill, also a senior, has been Cruz’s rival of sorts in Broward’s long-distance runs. Gill led for the first three of the four laps around the track, and that was when Cruz turned it on.
“I was like, ‘I’ve got to make my move now,’ ” Cruz said. “I don’t want to leave it right at the line. With 400 [meters] to go, I knew I needed to kick it.”
▪ Boys’ team scores — 1. St. Thomas Aquinas 98.5, 2. Blanche Ely 98, 3. Boyd Anderson 78, 4. Hallandale 40, 5. Everglades 35, 5. Northeast 35, 7. Flanagan 33, 8. Dillard 32, 9. Cardinal Gibbons 29, 10. Coconut Creek 27: Individual Winners — 3200 relay: ELY 8:03.02; 110 hurdles: Damion Thomas (NE) 14.06; 100: Bryand Rincher (PIP) 10.52; 1600: Ivan Donaher (STA) 4:28.06; 400 relay: NE 41.89; 400:Jamal Walton (EVR) 47.21; 300 hurdles: Raymond Crittenden (HAL) 39.38; 800: Yohance Haynes (STA) 1:53.20; 200: Jamal Walton (EVR) 21.75; 3200: Darian Adriano (STA) 9:45.49; 1600 relay: DIL 3:18.14; Shot put: Elijah Daniels (CG) 48-8.50; Discus: Yvon St. Louis (PLA) 140-5; Long jump: Dyillion Lester (FLA) 22-7; Triple jump: Binjimen Victor (COC) 44-6; High jump: Phillip Lee (BA) 6-6; Pole vault: Quinton Portier (FTL) 12-6.
▪ Girls’ team scores — 1. Northeast 159, 2. St. Thomas Aquinas 101, 3. Hallandale 76, 4. Dillard 72, 5. Douglas 55, 6. Boyd Anderson 36, 7. Flanagan 27, 8. Miramar 26, 9. Cardinal Gibbons 24, 10. Monarch 19. Individual winners — 3200 relay: BA 10:01.92; 100 hurdles: Amaya Thomas (NE) 14.87; 100: Nia Lecky (NE) 11.80; 1600: Alexa Cruz (STA) 5:03.57; 400 relay: NE 46.73; 400: Jan’Taijah Ford (NE) 55.37; 300 hurdles: Keausha Bradley Macklin (HAL) 46.98; 800: Jada Gammage (DIL) 2:19.78; 200: Jan’Taijah Ford (NE) 24.47; 3200: Alexa Cruz (STA) 10:56.68; 1600 relay: NE 3:49.57; Shot put: Shanell Atkins (STA) 43-5.75; Discus: Sophia Gustely (MON) 119-2; Long jump: Keausha Bradley Macklin (HAL) 17-11; Triple jump: Gillian Morrison (DOU) 38-11.75; High jump: Gillian Morrison (DOU) 5-6; Pole vault: Andreina Martinez (CG) 10-3.25; Shot put WC: Isabella Matos (CB) 6-9; 800 WC: Isabella Matos (CB) 5:26.10; 200 WC: Isabella Matos 1:11.09.