Lower Richland’s second straight Class 3A state track championship (and third overall in school history) was one for the books. In fact, it was the tightest three-way championship scramble in the modern era of South Carolina track and field.
The final tally: Lower Richland 57, Battery Creek 58, Daniel 58. There have been closer two-team battles, of course, but never before has there been a three-team race to the wire like this one.
In the end, the difference was a mistake. Battery Creek lost at least a share of first place by being disqualified in the 3200 relay. The Dolphins distance foursome entered with the third fastest qualifying time, and would have earned no worse than one point for officially crossing the finish line. It was not to be.
BC closed out the bitter day with a first-place performance in the 1600 relay, while LR and Daniel sat and watched. By that time LR was secure in the knowledge that it had successfully defended its 2009 title.
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The Diamond Hornets did not score often, but scored big. Devin Wannamaker was the key man for LR, claiming a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles, silver medals in the 100 and meters and 110 hurdles and chipping in with a fourth-place finish in the 200. He accounted for 41 of LR’s 58 team points. Desmond Wallace was the other DH gold medallists, nipping Wannamaker for the 110 hurdles title.
In a race this tight, every point mattered. Marvin Smith’s second-place performance in the discus was key, Derrick Duckett placed fifth in the same event and D’Vante Wright chipped in two points with a seventh-place finish in the triple jump. Wallace and Wright teamed up with Chris White and Sadarius Benjamin for a sixth-place, three-point effort in the 400 relay.
It was enough, just enough.
Blue Devils sophomore star Brandon Sanders swept the 100- and 200-meter sprints for the second year in a row to become Dreher’s all-time leading gold medal man. Sanders moved ahead of Tremaine Billie (back-to-back 100 titles in 2002-03) and James Irby (two wins in the jumps in 1994) in individual matters, and Tommie Brown (220 and two relay golds in 1974) on the overall list.
The only thing Sanders didn’t do was to set a state record in either event, but he still has plenty of time. He clocked in at 10.77 seconds in the 100, and at 21.23 in the 200. Both times were the fastest of the day in any classification.
Sanders’ 200 time was merely 0.07 short of breaking the state record of 23.17 set by RNE’s Airese Curry in 2001, and was the fifth fastest ever at the state finals in any classification.
The Eagles made the Top 10 cut for the ninth time in the last 10 years, finishing in seventh place with 33 points. It was a nice rebound performance after last season’s four-point state showing.
Tony Downs was the Chapin star at state, winning the discus title after finishing second in the shot put. Both medal throws were personal records. In the process, Downs became the first Chapin entry in the weight to claim state gold in 25 years.
Distance running has been the foundation of the team’s success in recent years, but the Eagles had never won a gold medal in the distance relay. The slump continued in 2010. The Chapin foursome of Carson Barnes, Heath Lorick, Hunter McGahee and Matthew Hite entered with the fastest time from the qualifying meet, and had it’s fastest time of the season at state (8:07.33) but it was not good enough to unseat defendant race champion Hilton Head, which breezed to victory in 7:59.91. It was the first time a 3200 relay team in 3A cracked the 8:00.0 barrier.
The Eagles enjoyed one of its best state meet showing ever, thanks in large part top senior Deonne Hopkins, who finished in fifth place in the 100 and 200 meters and helped the Airport 400 relay team claim a silver medal.
In the end, the Eagles finished with 16 points, which matched the program’s best state showing in the last 16 years.
Hopkins joined forces with Ryan Smith, Josh Salley and Corey Oswell on the 400 relay team.