City was up. Mervo was a bit down. By the end of yesterday's Baltimore City Track and Field Championships at Poly, the combination of the two had the local track scene completely upside down.
The Knights dominated the throwing events and relays to edge the five-time defending champion Mustangs by 24 points, sending them to their first defeat in a local postseason meet since the 1992 Maryland Scholastic Association Championships.
On the girls' side, Western continued its recent domination, scoring 220 points to Mervo's 72 and Lake Clifton's 67.
On this day, however, the big story belonged to the City boys.
"I think this is probably the best City team for 20 years," said City coach William Redmon. "Everybody ran exactly the way I had it planned. I knew we were going to win, no doubt about it."
The Knights won the meet with a convincing performance in the throwing events. Led by Allen Couplin (first in discus, second in shot) and Ali Harding-Bey (first in shot, second in discuss), they swept the first three places in the shot put and finished one-two in the discus, amassing a combined 42 points in the two events to Mervo's seven.
"The field events were just huge for us," Redmon said. "My shot and discuss are just tremendous. They've been working so hard the past couple weeks."
What's more, City posted victories in all four relays, including the sprints -- traditionally Mervo's strong suits. Rooti Lewis added a win in the 3,200.
The championship culminated a steady rise in the standings for the Knights, who finished third two years ago before taking second last spring. This past winter, they finally knocked off the Mustangs at the city indoor meet.
"We thought it was possible [to win]," said Couplin. "Since we beat them in indoor track, we were just trying to come out and beat them again outdoors."
Mervo received strong performances from Eric Newby, who won the long and triple jumps, and Odell Taylor, a double-winner in the 200 and 400. In the end, however, the Mustangs simply didn't have enough.
Coach Fred Hendricks said his team's troubles began two weeks ago when sprinter Tyree Byron -- its fastest quarter-miler -- went down to injury.
That bad luck continued yesterday when his 4 x 200 relay team dropped the baton twice en route to a seventh-place finish, and when 800-meter standout Dennis Wellington was slightly injured after having a shot put accidentally dropped on his foot. Running in pain, Wellington finished sixth.
"It was just a comedy of errors. We knew it was going to be tough, and we couldn't afford to lose any points," said Hendricks. "I don't want to take anything from [City]. They are good -- they're legitimate -- and we just needed all our horses in order to win."
While City had to fight for a championship, Western breezed to one, taking first place in 12 of 17 events.
Winners for the Doves included Tami Jefferson (100, 200, long jump), Layla Acirfa (400), Elizabeth Johnson (800, 1,600), Tia Burley (300 hurdles), Tia Taylor (high jump) and all four relay teams.
Pub Date: 5/10/98