"Mervo-lous comeback! That's how we want the headline to read," shouted Mervo's Jabari Bush as he and his teammates celebrated a final-event victory that gave them the title at yesterday's Mount St. Joseph Track and Field Invitational featuring three of the area's top four teams.
The teams never met during indoor season, so yesterday's meet was an eagerly awaited but chilly event to determine bragging rights.
In eighth place after the first four events, the third-ranked Mustangs poured on the speed to win three relays, including the final event, the 1,600 relay. That gave them 84 points, which outdistanced runner-up Mount St. Joseph (74.6 points) and third-place Annapolis (69.2 points).
Mervo entered that final event trailing No. 4 Mount St. Joseph by sixth-tenths of a point and won in 3:29.8; the Gaels did not place. The winning relay team was comprised of Anthony Green, Bush, Ronald Wright and Frankie Wright.
"We came together, didn't quit, ran hard to the last race until the fat lady sung," said Bush, who also ran on the victorious 400 relay, won the 400 dash and finished third in the 200 dash despite a tender hamstring.
A hamstring injury to Bush and to Glenn Love ruined Mervo's indoor state meet, and the Mustangs were hungry to repair their damaged reputation yesterday.
"He [Bush] said he was ready to go so we didn't hold him out," Mustangs coach Fred Hendricks said. "This [win] wasn't easy."
Love ran the first leg of the 400 and 800 relays. Ronald Wright ran on all three winning relays and also won the 200 dash in 21.8, besting Bush's third-place time of 22.5.
Frankie Wright ran on Mervo's 400 and 1,600 relays but didn't score in his specialties, the triple jump and the long jump. He was state 4A-3A triple jump champion last spring.
"He said the weather was just too cold for him," said Mervo coach Ron Neal.
Kelley Jackson won the shot put for Mervo at 53 feet 8 1/2 inches to join Bush as the Mustangs' only individual winners.
The Gaels' individual champions were Rob Ludwig (pole vault in a meet record of 12-9) and Mike Blanchard(discus, 149-6 1/2 ).
Chris Wright finished second in the 1,600 (4:31.4) and 3,200 (9:55.6) for Mount St. Joseph. Pat Bailey of C. Milton Wright won the 3,200 in 9:43.5, and Bailey's teammate, Will Murdoch won the 1,600 in 4:30.6.
Shomari Taylor of McDonogh led his team to fourth place by winning the 300 intermediate hurdles (39.2 seconds) and the long jump (19-7), and taking second in the 110 hurdles (15.2).
Annapolis took a 53.2 to 50.6 lead over the Gaels after 11 events by scoring 15 points in the high jump: Tim O'Brien won at 6-4 and Demario Harris was third (5-10).
What hurt No. 2 Annapolis even more was a hamstring injury to Mike Brown during the 200 dash. He was expected to score well in that event and lead the 400 relay to a high finish. Instead, the Panthers didn't score in either event.
"Hopefully, he's back in a couple of weeks. We have no excuses. You have to beat the best to be the best. This was a nice meet," Panthers coach Mike Ballard said.
Before his injury, Brown won the 110 high hurdles in 15.1 seconds, and finished second in the 100-meter dash (10.6) despite breaking the meet record of 10.7. Marcel Coleman of Susquehanna Township (Pa.) ran 10.4.
"It was too cold to be sprinting," Brown said. "And I didn't know this track wasn't rubberized, so I wore my spikes instead of flats. I'm disappointed. I don't like getting hurt and watching."
Elizabeth Seton of Prince George's County won the girls title over runner-up Mount de Sales, 85.5 to 58.5. Mervo was third (39).
Laura Drossner of Bryn Mawr won the 3,200 in 11:14.3.
April Mullen of Mervo won the 800 in 2:29.9 and was second in the 400 at 59.8 seconds.
C. Milton Wright's 3,200 relay team (Kelly Buck, Megan Watkins, Morgan Little, Jessica Hepner) won in 10:03.0. Watkins also ran second in the 1,600 (5:25.6).