After failing to qualify for states in the 600 meters the last three seasons, O'Bryant's Patrick Powell finally achieved his goal Tuesday afternoon at the Reggie Lewis Center. And best of all, he did so by winning gold in the Boston City League indoor track championships.
“The race was a very quick pace, the first heat that went, they were really fast, so we had to go really fast for the last heat,” he said after recording a time of 1 minute, 29.5 seconds. “I was going like a 27 [seconds] for the first 200 [meters] and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going really fast. I have to slow down a little.’ The last lap I had to give everything I had and somehow I managed to get through it.
“It felt really great. It felt like I finally accomplished what I need to accomplish to get first.”
Unfortunately for the Tigers, both their boys’ and girls’ squads finished second behind Latin Academy, which swept for the third straight year.
In the girls’ meet, Latin Academy finished with 120 points to O’Bryant’s 83 and West Roxbury’s 67.
Before Latin Academy won the last two seasons, O’Bryant had won 16 straight indoor girls’ city titles. This year, O’Bryant was tied with Latin Academy at 52 points apiece after the first day of competition.
“I knew we would do well the first day but the second day I don’t have enough girls,” O’Bryant coach Jose Ortega said. “All the females at the O’Bryant, they have so many other things to do, they just don’t have the time to compete. So that’s the reason why we can’t get those girls out.”
Freshman Juleen Lewis gave the Lady Tigers the biggest spark by winning the 55-meter dash (7.54 seconds) and the long jump (16 feet 1.5 inches). She was also on the 4x200-meter relay team that finished in a disappointing fourth place with a time of 1:55.83.
“The relay killed us,” Ortega said. “We had an opportunity to place and we dropped the baton.”
The Lady Tigers did well in the distance races as Melissa Jean won the 1,000 meters with a time of 3:35.08 and Emily Prado won the 2 mile with a time of 14:44.64.
On the boys’ side, O’Bryant (51 points) finished 7 points short of Latin Academy while Dorchester finished third with 48 points.
O’Bryant’s boys’ won the 4x400-meter relay in 3:49.63 despite being the third seed in the event behind Latin Academy and Dorchester. Dorchester (3:50.98) finished second while Latin Academy (3:53.79) finished third.
But the Tigers finished eighth in the 4x200-meter relay with a time of 1:49.23 while Brighton won the race in 1:40.53. Finishing fourth in the event, Latin Academy (1:43.37) picked up 4 points, but South Boston coach Jim de Mello said Latin Academy should have been disqualified because one of its runners fell in front of one of his runners.
"I brought it up to the officials," de Mello said after his team finished sixth in the race with a 1:45.38."They said they didn’t see the infraction so they can’t call it. So you have to just let it go at that. Things happen in sports.”
After the meet, South Boston was given a trophy for finishing the season with a 7-0 record. It was a perfect ending to de Mello’s last indoor season. He will retire after the outdoor season. He has coached 25 years at South Boston.
“It was exciting,” de Mello said. “I had a lot of exciting moments, but one of the things I enjoy is seeing the average kid or the average athlete go and produce something -- have a goal and then they reach that goal and they are really proud of it.”
And that’s exactly what Powell did by winning the 600 meters for O’Bryant. He finished sixth in the event as a freshman, second as a sophomore, and last year he skipped the 600 to run the 1,000, which he won.
But his heart was always in the 600.
“I really wanted it, I felt it was my race,” he said. “I felt like I had the most connection to it. I felt like I’m more together with it. It’s more my style of running.”
The race qualified Powell to run in states for the first time this winter.
“My goal for states is being known,” he said. “I know I’m not the fastest guy out there but I want to be known as the one kid who can keep going farther and farther, so people can look out for me.”
And of course there’s always the business of fending off Latin Academy at the outdoor city meet this spring. Last year, O’Bryant won for the first time in two years, beating the Dragons, 79.5-79.
Ortega said they will take their best shot at Latin Academy’s girls’ team this spring as well.
“BLA, we’re trying to stop them,” he said, “but if we can’t get the girls out, we can’t do anything.”
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