After three straight years of runner-up finishes at the Class 4A state track and field championships, the Spring Valley Vikings decided enough was enough.
“We were tired of it. It had to end,” senior Connor McCormack said.
The title drought came to an end Saturday at Lower Richland Stadium as the favored Vikings performed as expected and ran away with its first state championship in 10 years. They topped second-place Lexington, 78-50.
It was the sixth championship in program history and the fifth under veteran coach John Jones since 1987.
“We had a great day at qualifying last week, got a lot of kids in and as a group we were right on what we projected,” Jones said. “This is just a great, great group of athletes, and we won it as a team.”
McCormack, a senior, was the Vikings’ standout with a win in the 800 meters for his first individual state gold medal. He ran legs on two record-setting relay teams. He helped the Vikings 3,200 quartet set the tone for the team on Friday with a win in 7 minutes, 45.28 seconds — breaking Lexington’s 2012 record by more than three seconds.
McCormack also was on the 1,600 relay that clocked in at 3:16.48 — a time good enough to be the second-fastest time in history, but not good enough to edge Beaufort.
“It’s crazy, an unreal feeling,” McCormack said. “Our goal was to finally win a championship. But through three years of running track, I never thought this would happen because something always seemed to keep us from getting there.”
The Vikings had adversity to overcome this season, but they persevered.
“We had some injuries and other issues, but this team peaked at the perfect time of the season,” Jones said.
Richard Fish earned the Vikings’ other individual gold medal in the pole vault. Malik Wilson claimed silver in the long jump behind Richland Northeast’s Craishaud Foulks. Jalon Williams and Terrell Simmons picked up bronze in the shot put and 400 meters, respectively.
Bradley Gibson, Tom Hoefel and Cameron Pratt joined McCormack on the record 3,200 relay. Gibson, Hoefel and Nathan Parker were on the near-miss 1,600 relay.
Defending champion Lexington hardly was disappointed with its runner-up effort.
“Considering we had one key guy disqualified last week and had another key runner with a cast on his arm, I am very happy with the performance,” Wildcats coach Bailey Harris said. “I didn’t expect this.”
Curtis Walker won the 200 and 400 for Lexington, and Zack Langston was the 1,600 champion. Walker became the first Wildcat to win a sprint event at state in 42 years.
The Blythewood and Dutch Fork boys both cracked the top 10. Blythewood tied for sixth place with Summerville at 35 points. Devin Albert was the 100 winner and joined with Dean Beckford, Darius Wilson and D’Andre Fletcher for a gold medal performance in the 400 relay. Auntrell Mack’s win in the discus helped Dutch Fork finish 10th with 24 points.
Lexington was the Midlands headliner in the girls division, placing fifth with 37. Haylee Love and Meri Heneage finished first and second, respectively, in the 1,600. Heneage also ran a leg on the Wildcats’ winning 3,200 relay team on Friday.