Dreher superstar Brandon Sanders capped what may well be called the greatest boys track and field career in South Carolina history at the Class 3A state meet on Saturday at Harry Parone Stadium.
Sanders came away with four gold medals while leading the Blue Devils to their first state championship in 52 years – back to 1960 when there was still a valid reason why track athletes were dubbed “cinder men” by the media. Dreher finished with a commanding 88-58 edge over runner-up South Pointe in the final team standings.
Let’s make the case for Sanders.
Though he never managed to have a state-record time in either the 100- or 200-meter finals, he became the first male athlete in history to claim four straight state titles in two different events. His career individual haul of eight gold medals is second only to former Liberty distance star Derrick Wyatt’s 10 wins between 1997 and 2000. Wyatt was a four-time champ in the 1600 and had 800-1600-3200 sweeps as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Sanders’ total yield is 10 gold medals when factoring in his part on the two relay wins this year. Only Wyatt’s career total of 11 overall gold medals is better. The only other man in the same league as Sanders and Wyatt is former Andrews star Marcus Pope who scored seven individual and three relay wins (2005-08).
Both Wyatt and Pope made hay in Class 2A. Sanders is the most decorated performer in either of the two highest classifications in individual and overall totals. Chapin distance ace Luke Lovelace, who had seven wins between 2005 and 2008, is the only other 3A or 4A man with more than six gold medals on the resume.
Moreover, the USC-bound Sanders is the first male to ever win four straight titles in either of the classic sprint events.
He is the 15th male in any classification to come away with four gold medals at state since the start of the modern era in 1971, the first by a Midlands athlete since 1988 when George Cornelius of A.C. Flora pulled off the rare feat of going 4-for-4 in individual events.
Cornelius, by the way, was the first to have four solo wins at state, and that accomplishment has been matched only one time since – by Markish Jones of Broome in 2006.