Runner’s forward lean is a warning sign ... ‘going down!’

Watermelon queens get loud cheering home runners
August 9, 2022

Forward lean - No one has seen more forward leans of struggling runners shuffling toward the finish line of a race than I have. I have seen crashes and pavement biters, and sometimes I’ve been able to catch runners on the way down. The older guys are the worst, while younger runners sometimes look like someone sprayed them with a dose of Black Flag. Their arms and legs cease to work in coordination; they run like they're dancing stupidly on purpose, but they won’t stop until they collide with a dumpster or parked car. I spoke with Tom Keating, 74, before the WaterMel 5K Run Sunday in Laurel. Tom is tough and a good age-group runner. But 50 yards from the finish, I saw Tom doing the forward lean and I knew he was in trouble. I didn’t know that he had already gone down once, but he was bloodied. A basic rule for the over-70 runner who falls face-first onto a road during a race: Stay down and hope all the Watermelon Queens come together to surround your body and tell you to stay down. I screamed from my blue chair, “Somebody get him; he’s going down.” Tom was surrounded and another fall was prevented; he was placed in a chair and cleaned up. I’m a lot like Tom. I have more toughness than good sense.  

Field hockey and football - I am a full-blown field hockey writer and photographer, and I’ll stay close to the sport, with granddaughter Lina a Cape sophomore and Meredith a sixth-grader at Mariner. I closed out covering Champions Camp for the older players Friday, and I was so impressed with how tough those girls are practicing three hours on turf in high heat. There’s one more Tuesday night open fields before practice begins for real Monday, Aug. 15. Football practice begins Monday, Aug. 8, then Cape will scrimmage at Hodgson Saturday, Aug. 18. Once football season starts, coaches hope for more good surprises than bad ones. 

Ring ceremony - The Cape wrestling team was scheduled to receive their state championship rings Monday, Aug. 8, at Fish On in Lewes. The Vikings won the Division I dual-meet state championship Feb. 12, with wins over Smyrna 33-31 and Caesar Rodney 43-26. Coach Chris Mattioni called the win over Smyrna the most intense match he’s even been involved in. New weight classes next year: 106, 114, 120, 126, 132, 138, then the changes 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215 and 285. 

Watermelon Queens - I’m silently singing “Caribbean Queen” – are we sharing the same dream? I don’t think so – while I took a photo of three Watermelon Queens Sunday morning at the WaterMel 5K at Johnny Janosik Park in downtown Laurel. But once the runners started to return, the queens got all loud. It sounded like the liberation of Kuwait 30 years earlier – the modulated war whoop – which in my memory is two or three years ago. Anyway, three nice “kids” for sure. Remember Karl Childers in the movie “Sling Blade”? “I guess I’m gonna have to get used to looking at pretty people.” 

Snippets - Danny Wright has been the police chief in Laurel for the past seven years after retiring from the Delaware State Police. I coached Danny in track back in 1983 when he was at Cape. His son Michael, a stud wrestler at Sussex Central, will graduate from Millersville this year. Annie Judge, now a graduate student at Temple, returns for a fifth year as a field hockey player at Temple. The Sussex County chapter of the USLA competition team will jet west to Hermosa Beach, Calif., for the national championship, which begins Wednesday, Aug. 10. Last year, Sussex County finished second to Los Angeles County. And then most of those same lifeguards will head off to college, which begs the question, “Who is guarding the beach?” August autumnal tides run stronger. The ocean may look the same, but it's not, so never swim alone. The obvious advice is always the best. In 2014, wrestling returned to the Temple University campus as a club sport. There is now a big push to bring it back as a full-blown  sport. College sports rosters for 2022 are in a state of flux (write your own joke); it takes a while for the sports information people to get new photos of freshmen and add them to the website. Rosters are still crowded up top due to extra COVID years and that pesky transfer portal. Pretty sure Susan and I have PTPD (Post Traumatic Pet Disorder). Next month it will be a year since Darby went off-road to the Canine Cloud, avoiding all rainbow bridges and tolls. Baby James Fred: “Every dog is the greatest dog.” Go on now, git! 


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