I’ve played in and as a journalist covered almost every sport the Detroit Public School League (PSL) participates in, but my belief is that none is more exciting than track and field.
On a sun-drenched day at Renaissance High School, the annual PSL Track and Field Championships did not do anything that would lead me to change my mind.
The beauty of the event is that it is the only sport where hundreds of boys and girls compete in the same event over two days. On one day, as has been the case more times than one can remember, the Mumford boys edged Cass Tech in a very close encounter 154 to 152 to win its 10th consecutive title and the Cass Tech girls outlasted Renaissance and Mumford to win its first title in ten years, piling up 152 points to 119 and 116, respectfully.
“This was a beautiful performance by our girls,” said Cass Tech Girls’ coach, Chris Wright. “It has been a while since we have broken through and won the title. At the start of the season I told the girls we had a shot. We may be a young team but we have a lot of talent. Still, you have to go out there and compete and get it done, and that’s what these girls did, they got it done.”
Leading the way for the Technicians was sophomore sprinter Kyra Jefferson, who corralled the 100- and 200-meter dashes and anchored the winning 400 and 800 relay teams. Jefferson’s prowess ended Renaissance’s run of four straight girl’s titles.
In a way, Jefferson’s effort was business as usual for her. After all, her father, Thomas Jefferson, won a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympic Games in the 200 and her mother, Michelle, was an All-American sprinter at LSU. Kyra went out and proved that fruit does not fall far from the track tree.
“I’ve been running since I was 6,” she said. “I won the state title in the 200 as a freshman, so I really went to work to get even better for my sophomore year. I knew I had more to give on the track. However, out of everything in track I like the 200 best, because you have more time to catch up if you make a mistake in the blocks.”
On the boys’ side, in spite of the gallant effort from Cass junior Kishon Wilcher, who won both the 100 and 200 with a sore hip that kept him out the relays, the Mumford Mustangs Boys grinded out an exciting two point win. The Mustangs secured the PSL title by placing third, worth six points, in the meet’s final event, the 4×400 relay.
Mumford coach Robert Lynch has transformed his school into a PSL and state powerhouse. Every year he seems to win with a different strategy. One year with a superstar athlete, another with middle distance people, and other years with field events and relays. The results are always the same, a PSL Track and Field title.
“Winning never ever gets old,” Lynch said after the close victory, “and it is simply exciting to see the kids achieve our team goals. We did not get all we wanted out of our sprinters, but that is why this feels so good, because it took a real team effort to beat an excellent Cass Tech team.”
Leading coach Lynch to yet another PSL title was senior Marcell Jones. He won the 110 hurdles, ran a leg on the 4×100 winner and finished second in the 300 hurdles.
“As a team, before the start of the season we said we were going to do everything possible to win,” Jones said. “Personally I wanted to win both hurdles; I got one and second in the other race. I do not feel too upset because I know I put the work in and left it all on the track.”
Said Cass coach Thomas Wilcher: “We had as good a shot this year as any year. We had guys fall down in races and injuries kept us from being the best we could be. However, this team went out and put the effort in and we just came up a little short.”
Other PSL students who won titles were Justin Bullock of Renaissance, who ran in the four longest events. He won the 2-mile (10:39.52) and ran on the winning 3,200 relay. He placed second in the mile and third in the 800.
Vorri Zanders of Mumford was a double winner, winning the 2-mile run and the mile. Joshua Harris, a senior from Communication and Media, won the 300 hurdles and qualified for the state finals in the 300 hurdles, high jump and 1,600 relay.
PSL Track and Field 2010: Great events, solid performances and down-to-the-wire team finishes.
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com.