Having the team title come down to the last event might be appealing to the fans, but it is rough on coaches.
Blythewood coach Steve Inabinet wasn’t worried, however.
“We knew coming down to the end that it was going to come down to the 4x400 relay team,” Inabinet said after his Bengals edged Chester, 60-53, in the Class 3A boys track and field championships at Spring Valley’s Parone Stadium on Saturday.
That expectation was the source of Inabinet’s calm.
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“We had the edge (in the event); it was just a matter of them going out and performing,” Inabinet said of his 1,600-meter relay team.
The Bengals did, taking second. Chester’s entry finished fourth.
Blythewood’s day began on a less auspicious note. The starting block moved as standout sprinter Justin Bethel pushed off in the 100. Bethel rallied for third behind Chester’s Devin Jackson and Wade Hampton’s Roy Alexander.
“It went backward on my push-off, and I kind of stumbled out, and I had to catch up after that,” Bethel said. “I guess I was coming out too hard, and it slipped, but I’ll take what happened.”
So will Chapin’s Luke Lovelace, who was in a class by himself Saturday.
The senior, who plans to attend the University of Louisville, won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Combined with his leg on the fourth-place 3,200-relay team Friday night, Lovelace had a role in 34 of Chapin’s 48 team points, enough to give the Eagles third place in the team standings.
Summerville’s John McMillan accomplished the distance triple in Class 4A in 1993, but meet officials could not recall any other Class 3A athlete who won all three distance events.
“I wanted a little faster times, but it was a good way to go out,” Lovelace said.
Lovelace’s final two events, the 800 and 3,200, were run 40 minutes apart.
“I thought I’d have a little more energy for the 3,200 than I did, and also with the wind on the backstretch ...,” he said. “When you’re trying to run a fast time, and you start thinking, I was in the 800 just 30 minutes ago, mentally and physically it just wears you down.”
He ran 1:56.44 in the 800, 4:26.15 in the 1,600 and 9:42.59 in the 3,200.“Some people said I was looking back at the end (of the 3,200),” Lovelace said. “I didn’t want to see that last 10-meter pass. I didn’t want that to happen my senior year, so I just was checking every now and then to make sure.”
Another guy making sure — and making up points for Blythewood — was sprinter, Christopher Maxwell. Maxwell won the 400 and took second in the 200, which gave Blythewood a five-point lead Chester never erased.
“We thought it was not going to be this close,” Maxwell said. “Chester pushed us, but if they hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been near as much fun.”
J.L. MANN GIRLS WIN FOURTH IN A ROW
Talent is one thing, but J.L. Mann girls track coach George Moss said winning four Class 3A state championships in a row requires something else: sweat.
“You’ve got to have kids who will work,” Moss said after J.L. Mann produced 167 points, the most in the history of the state meet. Daniel finished a distant second with 88 points.
“We actually set the record last year with 165, so we made breaking it our goal,” Moss said. “We knew we were going to win the meet; we wanted the record.”
Despite bringing only 13 competitors, Mann won 11 of 17 events, and in four events (100, 200, 3,200 and shot put) placed first and second.
Darriale Henley, one of only three seniors J.L. Mann used this weekend, won the 100 meters. Briana Nelson took second. The two reversed the order in the 200. Henley won the long jump, and Nelson earned her second gold in the 400.
Katherine Borowicz won twice (1,600, 3,200). J.L. Mann swept the relays, and Brittney Waller won both the shot put and discus.
Reach McLaurin at (803) 240-3514.