Cherub-cheeked from effort, exhaustion, and the sun’s oppressive rays, the Central Bucks West 4x800 relay team — a gold medal still slung around each neck — had shade and humor on their minds as they left the track Saturday afternoon at the District 1 track and field championships at Coatesville.
“I’m just glad my pants stayed on this time,” senior Christian Crabtree said, as his teammates laughed.
Boosted by an impressive anchor leg by late-blooming, University of Tennessee-bound senior Blake Ewaskey, C.B. West claimed the Class 3A crown with a time of 7 minutes, 47.22 seconds. The team advanced to the state championship meet Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University.
The title was set up, however, by an assist from Ewaskey’s mother, Tracy Jenkins, before Friday’s preliminaries.
“We don’t talk about that anymore,” Crabtree said, to more laughter, followed by prodding from his teammates to elaborate.
“I had to borrow Blake’s mom’s spandex, and the drawstring got pulled out, so when I was running it came down and had a bit of plumber’s crack,” Crabtree said behind the stadium bleachers, after the team got out of the sun. "The crowd loved it.”
Crabtree, who will attend St. Joseph’s University next year, said concerns about the legality of the shorts he brought on Friday led to the switch.
Crabtree was new to the relay team this season, he said, after not taking the sport seriously as a sophomore and junior.
“I didn’t care,” he said. “I thought I was bad at everything … .”
Now, he realizes that isn’t the case.
The result: “It’s a lot more fun.”
Ewaskey joined the track team in the winter to improve his conditioning for lacrosse in the spring. It was his mother’s idea, but the workouts were unfamiliar, painful, and grueling.
“I just learned to love it, and it’s been my passion ever since,” he said.
Ewaskey also won the 3A boys’ 800 title at 1:54.78.
He was committed to Hartford for lacrosse until about a month ago, he said. No longer playing that sport, he instead will run for the Volunteers.
“His well is deep,” said head coach Greg Wetzel, now in his eighth season. “He’s exceptionally talented and deeply tough.”
The undisputed queen of sprints in PIAA action the last three years completed her fourth straight year of domination.
Girard College senior sprinter Thelma Davies again claimed gold in the girls’ 2A 100 and 200. The Louisiana State University-bound star finished in 24.45 seconds in the 200 and 11.84 seconds in the 100.
On the 3A side, Perkiomen Valley senior Christina Warren, who twice won the girls’ triple-jump title, added No. 3 in record-breaking fashion. Bound for Arizona State, she set a meet record with a jump of 41-0.5 feet. Warren also won the 100 hurdles in 13.85 seconds.
Davies’ teammate on the boys’ side, Donovan Sanders, also claimed two golds. The junior won the 400 meters in 48.59 and the 200 meters in 22.39 seconds.
As a middle-schooler, Faith Christian Academy senior Josh Forker got his start in the high jump at a Boys’ and Girls’ Club in Indian Valley, he said.
“They would set up giant Legos and put a bar on top, and we would jump over it,” he said. “It was always fun.”
On Saturday, Forker won his second straight district championship in the boys’ Class 2A high jump, clearing 6-feet-6.
The height was a personal record and a school record.
“I’m the only high jumper the school has ever had,” he said, with a smile.
The school’s track program began during his freshman year, he said. Initially, he competed only in the 110-meter hurdles, which he also won on Saturday.
Eventually, though, he gravitated toward the high jump.
“It’s a pretty big difference,” he said. “Plus, if I have to do hurdles before high jump, my muscles get tight.”
Fortunately for him, the hurdles followed the high jump.
His practice routine also somewhat followed his Lego-based beginnings.
Setting the bar at an unfamiliar height in competition can play tricks with his mind, he said. Increased height can make him feel they need to change his routine to get increased power.
To combat that, his coach, Dave Loew, set a wooden box in front of Forker’s take-off zone during practice. He would run, step on the block, and jump over the bar.
The idea was to concentrate on his form during flight, which was easier with a boost from the block, he explained.
At the championships, though, there was no block. He cleared the final height on his third and final attempt.