Dreher sprinter Brandon Sanders handed off the baton one last time in the Class 3A track and field finals at Spring Valley on Saturday.
Sophomore Bradford Lemmons took that baton and sailed on the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay, sealing the Blue Devils’ first team state title since 1960.
“It felt great, it was such an emotional moment,” Lemmons said. “We had to do this for Brandon.”
Sanders helped power the Blue Devils by notching individual championships in the 100 and 200 meters. The future USC runner has won both events in each of his four years with Dreher. Meet officials believe Sanders is first runner in state history to accomplish that feat.
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But coming off the track after his 21.40 second finish in the 200, Sanders was more excited about Lemmons’ silver medal in the event and his team’s impending victory.
“I’m so excited for that guy. I wanted him to get in there,” said Sanders of Lemmons, who ran a personal best 21.83.
“We’re all ready to get rings. The past two years, I’ve really been looking forward to that, but injuries have gotten in the way,” Sanders said. “This year, we’re all healthy, and it’s working out the way I always wanted.
“It’s not just about me, I’m glad the whole team is going to get some love.”
Added Dreher coach Daniel Brooks: “I’m so elated right now, there’s so much I could say. Guys like Brandon Sanders, Ricky Griddine, Nick Putnam, they really keep you young, keep you excited about what you’re doing.”
After the 200, the Blue Devils held a 29-point lead. Then Nick Putnam picked up a point for Dreher in the 3,200, and the Blue Devils had a 24-point cushion over South Pointe going into the final event.
Dreher was in sixth place when Sanders took the handoff for the third leg, but Brooks was not concerned.
“We feel like Brandon can take us from wherever we are to being a contender,” he said.
Sanders powered to the front of the pack and passed the baton with a 10-meter lead.
“This was really special. He has won eight individual medals, but he’d give it all up for his team,” Brooks said of Sanders. “To coach a kid like that, what a special guy and a great win.”
With the gold medal relay in the books, the Blue Devils finished the meet with 88 points, ahead of runner-up South Pointe’s 58.
Lower Richland finished tied for fifth, and Chapin placed seventh.
On the girls’ side, Seneca took the state title, while Imani Boatwright lead Lower Richland to a third-place finish with gold in the 800 and a silver in the 400.
The Diamond Hornets gave up points in some of the early events but still had a chance to finish in second going into the final relay. Boatwright anchored Lower Richland to a bronze in the event.
Lower Richland finished with 53 points, and Dreher finished fourth with 52 points.