Cape’s Fletcher and Baker win indoor state titles

February 10, 2023

The DIAA Track & Field State Championships were held Feb. 4 at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover, Md. After a full day of competition, the Cape boys’ team landed in third with 57 points, just behind A.I. DuPont with 58 points and state champion Salesianum with 98 points. Looking at the last 10 years, this year’s championship was one of the more even meets, with many teams getting a piece of the pie.

The sprint-heavy Sussex Central team was fourth with 45 points, while Sussex Tech finished seventh with 28 points, all scored by multitalented sprinter, jumper and hurdler Yougendy Mauricette. Sussex Academy was 25th with three points.

For the local girls, Sussex Central was 15th with 11 points, while Cape was 16th with nine points. Sussex Academy finished 21st with three points.

On paper, the Henlopen Conference boys had four No. 1 seeds heading into the meeting. Three of the four claimed a state title. The Henlopen Conference girls had one No. 1 seed in Brooke Duke, and she claimed the high jump title with a 5-foot-2-inch clearance.

Henlopen Conference boys had a great day, as they won eight championships. Cape’s Ryan Baker won the 3,200 in championship fashion, running all alone in the later stages of the race to cross the line in 9:34.54. Mauricette of Sussex Tech won the 55-meter hurdles in 7.81 and the 400-meter dash in 49.79. Second-ranked Tim Wright of Sussex Central rose to the occasion with a huge meet, winning the 55-meter dash in 6.61 to edge out Rahshan LaMons of Tatnall in 6.62.

Caesar Rodney’s Ian Cain upset Ethan Walther of Delaware Military Academy in a close 800-meter run, as Cain hit the line in 2:01.52, with Walther in 2:01.60. Cain also anchored CR’s 3,200 relay that easily won by five seconds over Archmere with a time of 8:23.25.  

Makhi Scott surprised the field in the long jump with a leap of 22-feet-5-inches to take the title, while Mauricette was a quarter-inch back for second place. Third went to Jakwon Kilby of Dover at 22-4 1/2. The top three finishers were only a half-inch apart in what was one of the closest, and at times most controversial, competitions in state championship history.  

The final Henlopen Conference state title came in the pole vault, as Cape jumper Bailey Fletcher won the title with a nice clearance of 13-feet-even. Teammate Eddie Houck was second in 12-0, while Brady Mauro grabbed third in 11-6. It is the first time I can remember a school sweeping a field event and certainly the first Cape team sweep. All three vaulters are juniors, which is good news for next year. The trio scored 24 points, which was just under half of Cape’s team total.

In addition to his win in the 55-meter dash, Wright grabbed second in the 200 meters in 22.67. Teammate Will Harrison took third in the 400 meters in 50.89. The Golden Knights were second in the 800 relay in 1:31.70.

Central’s Tatiana Kelsic had a nice meet, finishing fourth in the 200-meter dash in 26.59 and sixth in the 55-meter dash in 7.44. Essence Briddell was sixth in the 55-meter hurdles.

Scoring for the Cape boys were Liam O’Donnell, fifth, 1,600; Ben Clifton, sixth, 800, and seventh, 55-meter hurdles; William Cerf, sixth, high jump and 1,600 relay; Stephen Hart, seventh, high jump; Maurki James, eighth, high jump and long jump; Nate Horn, eighth, shot put; and Max Gillen, eighth, 3,200, and 800 relay and 3,200 relay. 

Scoring for the Cape girls were Addison Bowman, fifth, pole vault; sixth, 800 relay; Ella Ruppert, eighth, 800 meters; Katie Kuhlman, eighth, 1,600; and Sophia Massaro, eighth, pole vault.

An early mix of excitement, drama and anger interrupted the meet during the 3,200-meter relay after officials stopped the race on lap six due to mistakenly being told by the timer that the leadoff leg only ran three laps. I may be wrong, but I do not remember that ever happening at a state championship meet. Once it got started for the second time, the Sussex Academy girls scored with a sixth-place finish in 10:54.17. Emmanuel Charles Aine of Sussex Academy also scored in the triple jump in 39-5. 


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