FELTON — Dover High’s celebration of another Henlopen Conference track and field championship seemed a little more subdued than what it was last year.
“We’re looking for next week,” coach Jim Solomon said.
Next week is the Division I state championship meet.
It’s a meet that Dover wanted to win last season but fell short to Caesar Rodney. That was after the Senators beat the Riders in a dual meet and took the conference championship.
The Senators are on a solid path to states this year. They won the Henlopen Conference meet Friday for the second year in a row and a record 20th time overall. Dover also finished its dual-meet season unbeaten (13-0) to win the conference regular-season title.
On Friday, the Senators won the team title with 193.75 points. Lake Forest earned second place with 143.5 points.
Smyrna captured its third girls’ conference championship with a total of 187.5 points while Caesar Rodney came in second with 135.5. CR won the regular-season championship, thanks in large part to a 77-69 victory over Smyrna on March 31.
But the Eagles improved enough during the season to take home top honors at the conference meet.
“The dual meet season is extra, we train all season for our kids to peak this weekend and next weekend,” said Smyrna coach Maura Schafer. “They’re coming on at the right time. We’re doing well on injuries and the kids are doing what they’re supposed to do.”
The Senator boys racked up a lot of their points in the sprinting events.
Darius Taylor won the 200-meter dash in 22.85 and finished second in the 100 and 400. John Rodel Castro won the 100 (11.37) and was runnerup to Taylor in the 200 while Ronald Jones ran 2:01.8 in the 800 to finish first.
The other Dover individual winner was Khari Bonelli in the triple jump (44 feet). The Senators swept the first four places in the triple jump and five of the top six spots.
“It’s a nice achievement but we’re not done yet,” Taylor said. “The final mission is winning states. This is just a step toward that. We’re coming back hungry this year.”
Last season’s state meet has been in the Senators’ minds all season
“It’s a big motivation because some of the kids who ran last year made some mistakes,” Solomon said. “They were young and everything like that last year. So I’m sure they’re ready to get back to states and try to bring it home. It’s going to be a difficult task, though. I anticipate it going down to the wire.”
Lake Forest won the most events in the boys’ competition with eight first-places finishes.
Henry Miller swept both hurdle events, winning the 110-hurdles and the 300. John Flamer earned first in the shot put and the discus while Josiah Purnell won the high jump that was contested on Thursday.
Vaeshon DeShields finished the 400 in 50.32 for gold and was also a part of two first-place relay teams for the Spartans. He teamed up with Austin Lonski, Tavon Guy and Travon Guy to win the 4x200 and also won the 4x00 with Miller, Tavon Guy and Javonte Freeman.
The Smyrna girls were paced by a strong performance in the relays and won three individual events.
Shantell Kargbeh topped the field in the triple jump while Myrissa McFolling-Young won the discus and the shot put. The Eagles were also victorious in the 4x100 (Arianna Vass, Destiny Suitt, Jalen Summers, Nnennaya Okorie), the 4x200 (Melissa McKeldin, Amia McGowan, Madison Keister, Jameela Buchanan) and the 4x400 (Buchanan, McKeldin, Perryasia Thompson, Kiara Dollard).
The Eagles’ program has kept growing thanks to its recent success which includes a Division I state championship two years ago.
“We have bigger numbers than ever,” Schafer said. “This is just really good for the program. It keeps the kids excited to be part of our team.”
Individually, Polytech’s Amber Lust won two events and had a pair of second-place finishes. She was first in the 100-meter dash and 110-hurdles while coming in second in the 200-meter dash and the 400.
Lake Forest’s Freddie Johnson was award the boys’ conference Coach of the Year award and CR’s Erin Cunningham won the girl’s award.