Johndell Cumberbatch was dethroned as senior boys champion in a very close finish as Quincy Kuzyk was crowned a KPMG Front Street Mile champion last night.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Cumberbatch, who was looking to retain his title in his final year as a schools competitor.
Ashley Irby continued her winning streak when she claimed her seventh title overall and third in the senior schools after clocking 5min 33.25sec to win ahead of Saltus schoolmate Lynsey Palmer, who finished in 5:51.14.
Kuzyk, who was not able to compete last year because of an injury, returned with a new determination, having been beaten by Cumberbatch last weekend in a 1,500 metre track event. He lost that race in a sprint finish, but this time he timed his move perfectly to break the tape alongside Cumberbatch as both were clocked in 4:51.56.
“Tonight the difference was he took off and I acted a bit sooner,” said Kuzyk, a Warwick Academy student. “It was real close, I didn’t even know if I had won.
“I was behind him the whole race, it was real windy so I wasn’t trying to take all the wind. With about 250, 300 [metres] to go the pace started picking up and I knew I had to go.
“The injury last year was devastating but it’s very exciting to come back. The crowd was great, a lot of people were cheering for me and that helped a lot.”
Kuzyk, 16, has one more year to compete while Cumberbatch was disappointed not to bow out as a two-times champion.
“I’m really disappointed, I was kind of confident coming in that I had the victory but it didn’t turn out that way,” Cumberbatch said. “I think I went too early and used too much of my energy.”
Cumberbatch was the top qualifier ahead of Kuzyk during the trials. Robert Edwards of Berkeley took the final podium spot, finishing third in 4:56.28.
Despite not feeling her best, Irby continues to dominate the girls race, making it three wins in succession after touching the tape in 5:33.25, very close to last year’s winning time of 5:32.76.
“I was hoping to get close to my personal best time of 5:23 so I was a little off,” said the 16-year-old Saltus student who is eligible to go for one more schools victory next year. “I was a little off [the PB], it was a little windy going out but coming back was fine. I’ve been sick this week so training was a little off.”
Second to Irby was Lynsey Palmer, who finished in 5:51.14 while a third Saltus student, Jessie Marshall, took the third podium spot.
Marshall, like Ramiah Brangman in the middle school race, finished fourth as two students from Shanton High School in California placed third but were not eligible for the prizes as they did not qualify to compete officially.
Kayla Hurl finished ahead of Marshall in the senior race and Aubree Lopez ahead of Brangman in the middle school race.
That race was won by Taylor White, of Warwick Academy, who had a strong finish to clock 5:43.24, more than five seconds ahead of Myeisha Sharrieff of Somersfield Academy. Brangman, last year’s primary school winner, finished in 5:58.25.
“I feel pretty good, I felt like I wanted to stop but I heard the crowd and I kept going,” White said. “I was looking for a little faster time but I’m still happy with it.”
Sancho Smith retained his middle schools title when he beat out challenges from Kahzi Sealey, the top qualifier, and Ryan Fleming, knocking off more than seven seconds from last year’s winning time of 5:09.99. Smith, a student at Whitney Institute, finished in 5:02.52 while Sealey recorded 5:04.23 and Fleming 5:05.66.
“I think winning was more important than a time but I am a little disappointed because I was going for the record,” Smith said, referring to the 5:01.90 time set by new elite winner Dage Minors when he was a Clearwater student in 2009.
“I found the conditions perfect, not too windy, not cold and it was a good race overall.
“They pushed me right to the end. I’ll be in high school next year.”
Legend Stephenson lived up to her name when she claimed the primary girls title vacated by Ramiah Brangman. Stephenson clocked 6:01.37 to finish ahead of top qualifier Ellise Dickinson (6:09.70) and Jaeda Grant (6:16.46).
“I feel nice and I want to thank all the people who came out to root for me, and my coach Mr Bean, Taylor, Alexis and Keishen [Bean],” Stephenson said after her win.
Asked her winning strategy, the nine-year-old quickly replied: “My coach told me but it’s a secret!”
Nayan Grant, of Warwick Academy, took the primary boys title when he finished in 5:41.42 to finish ahead of Elliott’s Khari Sharrieff (5:45.27) and Jace Donawa, of West End, who finished third in 5:49.34. Donawa was the top qualifier during the mile trials.