DOVER — Matt Gatune couldn’t have lost a race by much less than he did Friday.
Cape Henlopen High’s winning time over second-place Polytech — with Gatune running the anchor leg — was just 0.03 seconds faster in the boys’ Division I 3,200-meter relay.
But Gatune likes to take motivation not frustration from those kind of moments.
“I just went home last night thinking, it’s a new day, a new me,” said the Polytech senior. “I just came here and wanted to make sure I left my mark.”
Gatune accomplished his goal, adding two more titles to his collection as the DIAA track & field state championships wrapped up on a sweltering Saturday at Dover.
With the four team state titles going to New Castle County private schools, Polytech was proud to finish second in the Division I boys’ standings — the school’s highest finish ever among the state’s biggest programs. Smyrna’s girls’ squad was also happy to take second in the Division I team standings.
Gatune finished his final state meet with three titles and a second over the two days. On Saturday, he won the 1,600 in a time of 4:17.24.
Then, in the meet’s final event, Gatune and teammates Tyler Blandin, Quinn Sabanayagam and Kamron Wilkerson won the 1,600 relay title in 3:25.83. The four runners celebrated after guaranteeing the Panthers their second-place finish in the team standings. Polytech had 72 points to 170 for state champion Salesianum.
“I wanted that so bad for my teammates,” said Gatune. “(Friday) we lost the four-by-eight by so little. But we got it done in the four-by-four. It’s just amazing. I’m just so proud of them. We just put it all out there.”
Gatune’s winning time in the 1,600 was less than a second off the Division I state record, which has stood since 1972.
“In this sport, you hit amazing numbers, but it’s like, ‘Well what’s next?’” said Polytech coach Czar Bloom. “The bar has to go back up. He keeps going out there and doing it.
“He doesn’t take losses hard. I think it just kind of gets him ready for the next race even more. He’s one of those special guys that approaches it that way.”
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Sussex Tech’s Yougendy Mauricette also had a big state meet in Division I. The junior won the 200 in 21.84, the 110 hurdles in 14.35 and the 300 hurdles in 38.46 on Saturday to give him four state titles over the two days.
Smyrna’s girls collected 93 points to finish behind Padua, which had 211.5, in the Division I meet. Eagles’ coach Maura Schafer knew it would be all but impossible to catch the Pandas.
“I mean we knew first place was out of reach,” she said. “So coming in with a small group of girls, second is definitely what we were going for. We’re definitely happy with second this year.”
Smyrna did have two individual state champions: Brooke Duke won the high jump with a leap of 5-6 while Roarie Glenn-Russum took the shot put with a throw of 34-3.25. Both are first-time state champions.
Indian River’s Cole Brickman won the Division II 110 hurdles in 15.19 while Lake Forest’s Declan McGrellis won the Division II pole vault with a height of 13 feet. Dover’s Jakwon Kilby took the boys’ Division I triple jump with a distance of 48-0.5.
In the relays, Seaford’s team of Denzel Altenor, Asaiah Mollock, Michael Trammell and Jazonte Levan won the boys’ Division II 800 meters in 1:31.52. Levan, a sophomore, also won the 200 meters in 22.53.
In the girls’ Division II meet, Lake Forest’s Kirja Hickman won the shot put state crown with a throw of 39-6.50.
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or email@example.com.
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