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Photo Finish Highlights McCoy’s 3 Gold Medals

May 17, 2019

SCRANTON — The three runners lunged across the finish line, their teammates and everyone watching from the stands fell silent and waited.

It was impossible for anyone to tell who won the boys 4x100 relay with their own eyes.

Even the finish-line scoreboard — which only read as far as hundredths of a second — could barely decipher the absurdly close finish between Coughlin, Wallenpaupack and Hazleton Area.

But as Coughlin anchor Rafael McCoy got helped up from a tumble at the finish, his Crusaders were shown in first place with an identical time of 43.47 as Wallenpaupack. That was enough for McCoy and his teammates to explode in celebration of the most dramatic victory of the day.

The Crusaders’ dominance in the 4x100 continued in a memorable photo finish, and McCoy sprinted to two more convincing wins in the 100 and 200 to star in the District 2 Class 3A track and field championships Thursday at Scranton Memorial.

“It’s unbelievable. I really only got them by — it looks like centimeters,” McCoy said. “It was a great race. Wallenpaupack and Hazleton Area are very fast. They pushed me to go faster.”

Runners, jumpers and throwers all had big days for the WVC boys. Meyers senior Nazir Dunell defended his 110 hurdles championship despite a bump up to Class 3A, and classmate Najese Hood won the triple jump. Dallas’ Michael Anderson (shot put), Hazleton Area’s Michael Bradley (400) and Tunkhannock’s Matt Prebola (javelin) and Dalton Yeust (pole vault) were other district champions from the league.

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McCoy’s will to win shined brightest in the middle of all that success.

He took the baton for the final leg of the 4x100 in third place, still with a gap to close as the finish line drew near. McCoy got as much as he could out of his final few strides and, with Wallenpaupack and Hazleton Area’s anchors flanking him, finished with a hard lean that threw him down to the track.

Every ounce of that effort counted. Coughlin’s team of Antwan Gray-Dates, Jude Bourdeau, Damon Jones and McCoy finished in 43.464 seconds, with the Buckhorns clocking in at 43.470 and the Cougars third at 43.48.

Only the Crusaders move on to next week’s state meet.

“We had past winners here watching. So I had to do it for them. I had to dive,” McCoy said. “It took me a while to catch up. But I dove; it seemed like I wanted it more than them.

“I’m hurting right now, but it’s all worth it.”

Coughlin captured its fourth consecutive championship in the event, with former relay members Vincent Todd, Cole Horan and Jordan Austin in attendance to see that winning streak last until the end of Coughlin’s program. The final two victories in that run included Thursday’s photo finish and a meet record last year.

To top it all off, McCoy added wins in the 100 (10.80 seconds) and 200 (22.23). He’s the only Crusader to take first in either event throughout their 4x100 title streak.

“I couldn’t leave it off on an ‘L.’ I couldn’t leave it off on an loss, so I had to do it for them,” he said. “We’ve always had great sprinters. Four-by-one, that’s what we mainly focus on. We practice hand-offs all day.”

Dunell does it again

Meyers’ state champion hurdler had a couple new challenges to face in Class 3A.

Dunell had to defend his 110 and 300 hurdles titles against Abington Heights’ Antonio Maletta, who had the best preliminary time. If he couldn’t win that battle, he’d have to run faster than a tougher state-qualifying standard.

Dunell brought his A-game and punched his tickets to states both ways.

He edged Maletta in the 110 hurdles with a dominant 14.39, a 0.15-second win. Maletta had the upper-hand in the 300 race, but Dunell stayed right with him to qualify for states with a 39.8.

“It’s going to feel good (at states). It’s going to be a little emotional,” the Mohawks senior said. “But I have plans on going to states, to bring home a state gold medal. Bring something home before Meyers shuts down as a whole for sports.”

Back on top

Meyers’ Hood, last year’s long jump winner in 2A, won his second triple jump crown in three years at 43 feet, 3¾ inchels to get to Shippensburg for a third straight year.

Tunkhannock’s Yeust also repeated as pole vault champ, winning a foot higher this time at 14-feet.

Anderson, a Dallas senior and first-year thrower, won the shot put at 52-3¼. Tunkhannock’s Prebola is a freshman and won his javelin debut at 192-10.

Hazleton Area’s Bradley won the 400 by 0.17 seconds, in 50.52.

Other WVC state qualifiers were Hazleton Area’s Scott Campbell (javelin) and Henry Polanco (100) and Berwick’s Shawn Sheptock (100).

Contact the writer:

eshultz@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2054;

@CVEricShultz on Twitter