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Celebrations galore as track finals conclude

Vilseck's Renanzo Williams reacts to winning the 110-meter hurdles in 16.07 seconds. At left is Lakenheath's Keenan Couture, who finished third, and at right is Michael Johnson of Ramstein, who was fourth.

RUSSELSHEIM, Germany – What a difference a day can make.

At the DODDS-Europe track and field championships on Friday, Heidelberg distance ace Brian Hannum collapsed in second place across the finish line in the 1,600-meter run.

In Saturday’s 3,200-meter final, Hannum sprinted to the finish en route to a personal best time of 9 minutes, 53.68 seconds and the perfect ending to his high school running career.

“This is the best moment of my senior year so far,” he beamed after the race.

Hannum’s run was among a number of stellar performances turned in by DODDS-Europe athletes on the second and final day of the championships.

Leading the way were Vilseck’s David Lance, Ramstein’s Jessica Kafer, AFNorth’s Sara Sawyer and Heidelberg’s Wayne Dawkins. The four seniors were named the meet’s most valuable performers.

Sawyer scored 26 points by herself to lead AFNORTH to the girls’ Division II team title with wins in the triple jump and 200-meter dash and a bronze medal in the long jump.

“It’s bittersweet. This is it. She’s gone,” AFNORTH track coach D.C. McDonald said of his senior, whom he’s coached since middle school.

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Dawkins won a pair of gold medals in the triple and long jumps. In the triple jump Saturday, Dawkins hit 46 feet, 2.5 inches to break his own school record and beat Aviano’s Darien Cornett, whom he credits with bringing out his best. “That guy is persistent,” Dawkins said of Cornett. “Every year, I jump something, and he betters it. We go back and forth. “

After winning the 3,200 decisively on Friday, Kafer came back to score another gold medal in the 1,600 on Saturday, finishing in 5:13.08, ahead of Patch sophomore Baileigh Sessions, who finished in 5:16.97. Kafer also medaled in the 800.

“You can’t even say enough about her,” Ramstein track coach Will Buckley said. “She works hard. She’s very dedicated.”

After winning the 800 on Friday, Lance added gold medals Saturday in the 400 and the 1,600 sprint medley. He almost added a fourth in the 1,600 relay, but he couldn’t quite close the gap on Ramstein’s Jaap Van Gaalen on the anchor leg.

But the Vilseck boys didn’t need to win the meet’s final event to earn their first-ever team title in track and field, according to Vilseck track coach Eric Mead.

The one-two finish of Vilseck’s Shawn Peebles and James Suemenoglu in the boys’ 200 “sealed the deal,” Mead said.

“We had a group of seniors that really pulled through,” Mead said of the team win, singling out the performances of Lance and senior Renanzo Williams. Williams was in tears after winning the 110 hurdles in 16.07. “I worked so hard this year,” he said. “Last year I got beat. I’m so happy I went to practice on the days I didn’t want to go.”

Equally thrilled with his victory was Heidelberg’s David Hoke in the 300 hurdles. He clocked 40.45 seconds to just beat Williams, who finished in 41.16 seconds.

Patch’s girls earned their first team victory in recent memory on the legs of 12 girls. Coach Josh McCall noted the gusty performance of freshman Julia Lockridge, who ran back-to-back 800s, medaling in the open 800 and anchoring the Panthers’ winning 1,600 sprint medley with a gash in her ankle.

Other noteworthy performances Saturday included:

- The Wiesbaden boys and the Kaiserslautern girls won their respective 400-meter relays. The Wiesbaden team of sophomore De’ Quan Reed, seniors Brian Sealey and Matthew Jordan, and junior Roscoe Johnson crossed the line in 43.34 seconds. “It’s so much fun. There’s nothing like it,” Jordan said of competing in the European championships. For Kaiserslautern, juniors Jada Perry and Hannah McPherson, freshman Jada Bostic and senior Briana Williams won in 50.38 seconds. Perry also won the long jump, hitting a season’s best of 16 feet, 10 inches on her final jump.

- In the girls’ 100, Menwith Hills freshman speedster Mikala McClain held off a strong field to win in 12.90 seconds. On the boys’ side, Naples sophomore Christian Mack won in a finish so close that even the fans weren’t sure who was first. Mack edged Wiesbaden’s Brian Sealey, 11.20 to 11.22 seconds.

- The Ramstein boys’ winning 3,200-meter relay team of Virgil Sneed, Carl Lewenhaupt, Jackson Bargery and Van Gaalen ran 8:14.44, missing the DODDS-Europe record by a handful of seconds.

- Patch senior Abigail Diaz won the 300 hurdles in 46.53 seconds, shortly after finishing third in the 400.

- Heidelberg’s girls – Courtney Morgan, Adellah Summerlin, RaeAnn Stark and Shanice Harmon - won a thrilling 1,600-meter relay, edging Patch at the finish, 4:16.99 to 4:17.14.

svanj@estripes.osd.mil

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