ELKTON — Moments after completing his race in the boys 200-meter dash at the Region 2B Track and Field Championships at East Rockingham on Wednesday afternoon, Central senior Kyle Clanton, bent over with his hands on his knees, said through panting breaths and a grin, “Whew, had to make a little comeback.”
Clanton, the reigning Class 2 state champ in the three sprints, doesn’t often have to chase his opponents on the track, but he did on a couple occasions on Wednesday.
Battling a foot injury he suffered when he banged his heel awkwardly on the runway while competing in the triple jump two weeks ago, Clanton rallied in his final event of the day — the 200 — to cap a productive day with his third gold medal of the meet.
Clanton, who also won the 100-meter dash and the triple jump, trailed Stuarts Draft’s Colby Phillips by a half-step in the final 50 meters of the 200 but found a late burst with about 10 meters remaining, edging Phillips by two-hundredths of a second to win the event with a time of 22.60 seconds.
“I just got done icing my ankle, just got done with the (400) not that long ago. Coming in (to the 200) I was thinking I’ll just try my best and give it my all,” said Clanton, who walked gingerly from the finish line after coming in second place behind East Rock’s Andrew Jones in the 400 a few events prior to running the 200. “When we came around the turn I just saw (Phillips) out ahead, so I thought I’d go get one last gold before the day was over.”
Clanton netted 46 total points to earn the Region 2B Boys Track and Field Performer of the Year award for the second straight season. Central as a team finished with 58 points, good for third place behind boys champion East Rock (86) and runner-up Stuarts Draft (86).
Strasburg, which got a gold-medal performance from senior Stephen Kloosterman in the high jump, placed sixth with 53 points.
Clanton streaked to a win in the 100-meter dash early in the day, crossing the finish line in 11.11 seconds to claim his first gold medal of the day. He also won the triple jump with a leap of 43 feet, 4.5 inches — his only jump of the event, Falcons head coach Rick Lytton said — before turning his attention to the 400.
Clanton, who wasn’t putting weight on his left heel as he lined up on the starting blocks for the 400, settled for silver in that event when Jones gained a slight advantage on the Central senior over the final 100 meters. Jones finished in a time of 50.77, with Clanton right on his heels at 50.92.
Clanton also took second place in the long jump with a leap of 21-08.25. He said he’ll compete in those same five events at next weekend’s Class 2 State Championships, also held at East Rockingham.
“We’d like to make it five golds but we had some good competition, probably the best competition I’ve had all year, coming out here,” Clanton said of his performance in the region championships. “It’s really nice to have that and try to fight through my injury a little bit. You have those days, you have some good and bad days, but I would say this is one of the better days.”
Kloosterman had his best day in the high jump, which he won by clearing the bar at 6 feet, 2 inches. It was a personal best for the senior, who entered the day seeded fourth in the event and had never jumped better than 6 feet in previous meets.
“I was expecting to place high but I wasn’t sure where at. I came in, I felt good and the kid ranked above me was making little mistakes,” Kloosterman said. “It’s a nice day. I had a good rest over Monday, Tuesday. Came in and just felt good.”
Kloosterman also placed second in the triple jump (42-05.25), was fourth in the long jump (19-08.25) and ran the final leg of the Rams’ fourth-place 4x400 relay (3:46.51) alongside teammates Kobe Sterling, Russell Reeder and Brady Neary.
“My long jump wasn’t where I was hoping it would be at today but it’s all good,” Kloosterman said. “I performed pretty good in high and triple and I’m all right. Today’s been pretty productive.”
The top four place-winners in each event automatically qualified for the Class 2 State Championships.
Reeder, a senior, placed third in the triple jump (41-07.00), and Strasburg junior Da’Neil Holliday (140-06) and Central senior Declan Franklin (137-09) placed third and fourth in the discus.
Falcons junior Antonio Nieves was third in the 800-meter run (2:05.68).
“He was a surprise,” Lytton said of Nieves. “He has knocked over 10 seconds off his time in the last month in the 800 meters. He’s just now figuring out how to run that race. He has a very good future in the 800.”
Strasburg juniors Anthony Cadle (10:44.62) and Tyler Zimbro (10:56.53) placed third and fourth in the 3,200. Zimbro was seeded seventh heading into the Region 2B meet and beat his seed time by seven seconds.
“Tyler, he had a lot of work to do today to qualify in the 3,200,” Rams head coach Ina Rae Crisman said, “so I’m really proud of him.”
Strasburg’s 4x800 relay team of Zimbro, Jacob Rodriguez, Joshua Knight and Zach Asher placed fourth with a time of 9:06.31.