For Dallastown's Justin Tracy and his track-and-field teammates, this season is about unfinished business.
First there was the business that he and his fellow seniors settled on Tuesday with the Wildcats' 96-54 victory against rival Red Lion. The win gave Dallastown its first York-Adams League Division I crown since 2011.
“It’s crazy, the past three years have come down to the last meet of the season and we’ve lost,” Tracy said. “It just feels good to get it on my Senior Night.”
400 relay: The next thing on the docket for Tracy and company will be helping take the Wildcats' standout 400 relay team to even greater heights.
“We’re looking for a top finish at districts as well,” Tracy said. “This (the division title) was the main goal, but districts is the next. It’s what we work the hardest on because we are trying to get to the top of districts.”
That relay squad has utilized some of the team’s top talents to form a steady corps for the Wildcats. In fact, the team has already cemented its place in school lore.
On April 26, during a dual meet at York High, Tracy teamed with Justin Atwood, Kalen Patterson and Edgar Centeno to set a new school record in the event with a time of 42.58 seconds.
That time is currently the best in a York-Adams dual meet this season, and for some perspective, would have placed third in the District 3-AAA finals last year. It also would have bested last year’s York-Adams title time by York High of 43.19 seconds.
As with most relay teams, the lineup can experience changes from meet to meet for various reasons. Tuesday, it was Tracy, Brian Thomas, Patterson and Centeno who teamed to defeat the Lions.
Sprint depth: Tracy is also a member of the Wildcats’ 1,600 relay team that also looks to be a contender at the league meet. Tuesday it was Tracy anchoring the lineup of Atwood, Patterson and Mike Diaz to claim victory.
“He’s just part of a collective group,” Dallastown head coach Mike Schuler said of Tracy. “It's a good, hard-working group. They all seem to push each other. There is a sense of pride when you're part of a relay team, and you seem to push just a little harder in those. So if you can focus on being a strong relay team, usually it bodes well for the individual events as well.”
Schuler noted after Tuesday’s title that his team’s sprint depth — with the likes of Centeno a top performer in the 100 and Patterson in the 200 — was key to the division championship.
The coach pointed to that group being leaders on the team early in the season, giving a fresh group of jumpers and throwers time to round into successful form.
“Those units come together and they’ve pushed and set goals since the beginning of the year,” Schuler said of his relay teams. “They came out and ran some quick times early and have been pushing ever since, knowing their big goals are yet to come.”
New events: In order to help his class finish its dual-meet career with a division crown, Tracy knew he’d have to step up in new way for the team.
While he is the defending York-Adams League champion in the high jump, Tracy took on the task of adding some new events to his repertoire this year — the 300 hurdles and long jump, where he's posted some of the best marks in league dual meets this season.
“(The) 300 hurdles is going great, I just kind of bunny hop over them and just get over it. And long jump, that’s kind of new, I haven’t done that since ninth grade,” Tracy said. “Just trying to do whatever I can to get points for the team.”
Adjusting to, and performing well in, those new disciplines will benefit Tracy next season as a member of the Kutztown University track team. Tracy says participation in the decathlon is a possibility.
Tracy will look to tend to some individual events as well on May 13, when the Wildcats play host to the York-Adams League Championships. Last season, he was the high jump champion and placed third in the 400 behind a pair of seniors.
After the league meet, the Wildcats look to further their place among the school’s elite on May 20-21 at the District 3 Championships at Shippensburg University. The ultimate goal is a return to Ship for a performance at the PIAA Championships on May 27-28.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.