SCRANTON — His high school team didn’t win a single meet and his name wasn’t at the front of anyone’s mind at districts.
But with one mad dash, err, make that two, Emmanuel Edouku went straight from an underdog to a champion.
GAR’s Edouku overcame a season of doubt — not so much from himself but by others — by dashing to a double gold medal performance Wednesday while winning the 100-meter dash and fueling the 400-meter relay in the District 2 Class 2A Boys Track and Field Championships at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
“Oh man, it’s insane,” Edouku said. “I came in thinking I was an underdog. I really had to prove myself today.”
Edouku came from a No.9 seed to capture the 100 dash with a finals run of 11.44, cutting nearly a tenth of a second from his season-best time of 11.52. He also ran the third leg of a 400 relay team that sprinted to a gold-medal run in 44.29 while holding off second-place Mid Valley.
“It feels great. First time I did it,” Edouku said before hopping to the top step of the district medal stand. “It’s my last year, and I’m going out with a bang.”
A bunch of other competitors from the Wyoming Valley Conference also made some noise.
Holy Redeemer’s 3,200-meter relay team showed why it was the favorite by winning gold with a time of 8:25.82, as year-long stalwarts Nick Brown, Dominic Capaci, Lukas Volpetti and Jonathan Weybrecht cruised to victory by more than 26 seconds. Meanwhile, the Meyers trio of Nazir Dunell won the 110 hurdles, Je’Vondrea McClair captured the long jump and Najese Hood won the triple jump — helping the Mohawks to a third-place team finish.
Amidst the excitement of jumping in his first district track and field meet, McClair lost his poise a little last year and missed out on making it to states.
Not this time.
McClair won the boys long jump with a leap of 21-09.5 inches, securing the first and only trip to the PIAA Championships for the Meyers senior.
“First time,” beamed McClair, participating in just his second season of track and field. “Last year I missed it. It was my first year, it was a little nerve-wracking. But this year, I handled it well, came back strong.
“This year, I really put my mind to it.”
Now he doesn’t mind being talked into taking up track by his cousin Nalasjia Harris-Johnson, who won three more district titles for Meyers to add to her illustrious collection on the girls side during Wednesday’s meet. She said it wasn’t an easy sell to McClair.
“Not at first,” Harris-Johnson said. “But I told him it would help him in his future, he likes the music industry, and maybe it would help him get to college. He’s always been an amazing athlete.”
McClair also finished with a silver medal in the triple jump, just behind Hood’s distance of 44-02.
Dunell made up some distance himself, coming from fifth place in the seedings to win the 110 hurdles and keep a Meyers tradition going. His good friend and Meyers grad Raheem Twyman won the District 2 title in the event last season.
“That was the biggest race of my life, so far,” said Dunell, a sophomore. “I just did everything I could to win that race.”
Dunell did it at the end, nosing out Marcos Ortiz of Carbondale at the finish to win with his season-best time of 15.04.
“I threw my body forward to hopefully take the race, and that’s what I did,” Dunell said. “I’m always competing to win. In preliminaries, I wasn’t that happy. I knew what I did wrong. And I knew I had to fix the problem the next time.”
1. Lakeland (Lak), 88; 2. Montrose (Mon), 86.5; 3. Meyers (Mey), 68; 4. Western Wayne (WW), 64; 5. Holy Redeemer (HR), 60; 6. Hanover Area (Han), 56; 7. Carbondale (Carb), 33; T-8. Dunmore (Dun), 32; T-8. Mid Valley (Mid), 32; T-10. Holy Cross (HC), 31; T-10. Lackawanna Trail (LT) 31; T-12. GAR, 26; T-12. Riverside (River), 26; 14. Northwest (NW), 20; 15. Lake-Lehman (LL), 15; 16. Blue Ridge (Blue), 13; 17. Elk Lake (Elk), 8; 18. Mountain View (Mt.V), 5; 19. Susquehanna (Sus), 4.5; 20. MMI Prep (MMI), 2.
3,200 relay — 1. HR (Nick Brown, Dominic Capaci, Lukas Volpetti, Jonathan Weybrecht), 8:25.82; 2. WW (John Mecca, Leonard Johnson, Cameron Johnson, Ryan Cavage); 3. Mon (Eric Bixby, Nick Coy, Owen Brewer, Colin Spellman); 4. Lak (Noah Chup, James Lewis, Thomas Pidgeon, John Noldy); 5. NW (Steven Gallopo, Jebb Klock, Kyle Koch, Wyatt Morris); 6. Han (Kyle Bohlin, Stephen Dule, Jared Fulginiti, Jacob Kwaitkowski); 7. Mid (Anthony Giovagnoli, Josh Vituszynski, Travis Finkler, Sebastian Brudnicki); 8. Mt.V (Isak Cook, Travis Getz, Ryan Martin, Jon Master). 110 hurdles — 1. Nazir Dunell (Mey), 15.04; 2. Marcos Ortiz (Carb), 15.07 (SQ); 3. Ryan Atcavage (WW), 15.25 (SQ); 4. Harley Mullins (Mon), 15.36 (SQ); 5. Collin Chidester (Mon); 6. Zakee Nettles (Han); 7. Mark Rinaldi (Dun); 8. Dylan Weybrecht (HR). 100 — 1. Emmanuel Edouku (GAR), 11.44; 2. Cyril Babcanec (Lak); 3. Brandon Brueckner (Han); 4. Chance Olsewski (Carb); 5. Anthony Blake (GAR); 6. Mohammad Chesson (Han); 7. KC King Lorilla (Dun); 8. Ian Bailey (Carb). 1,600 — 1. Zach Mead (Mon), 4:30.77; 2. Brandon Curley (Mon); 3. Lukas Volpetti (HR); 4. Jacob Pasake (WW); 5. Liam Mead (Mon); 6. Jeff Virbitsky (Mt.V); 7. Jack Malay (MMI); 8. Travis Hickling (Blue). 400 — 1. Cyril Babcanec (Lake), 50.18; 2. Cody Kurtz (WW); 3. Matt Bergey (LT); 4. Matthew Pidgeon (Lake); 5. Travis Hickling (Blue); 6. Cody Oswald (Elk); 7. Greg McDade (Dun); 8. Chris Banas (HR). 400 relay — 1. GAR (Garson Peralita, Josh Goodwin, Emmanuel Edouku, Anthony Blake), 44.29; 2. Lak (Thomas Pidgeon, Tyler Prudente, Tyler Schwartstrauber, Matthew Pidgeon); 3. Han (Brandon Brueckner, Brandon Chafin, Mohammad Chesson, Abbad Hamlet); 4. LL (Noah Gorski, Casey Kaminski, Zach Kojadinovich, Floyd McRay); 5. Mid (Joe Chylak, Austin Mizerak, Jon Dellia, Colin Munley); 6. Mey (Kendall Brewster, Nazir Dunell, Najese Hood, Je’Vondrea McClair); 7. HC (Matt Gregorowicz, Charlie Pettinato, Kevan Bailey, Matt Nelson); 8. Mon (John Herman, Brennan Gilhool, Tyler Dovin, Harley Mullins). 300 hurdles — 1. Ryan Atcavage (WW), 40.20; 2. Brandon Brueckner (Han), 40.61 (SQ); 3, Janssen Wilborn (Mey), 40.77 (SQ); 4. Dylan Weybrecht (HR); 5. KC King Lorilla (Dun); 6. Collin Chidester (Mon); 7. Moyle Dakota (LT); 8. Evan Collins (Mid). 800 — 1. Matt Kinback (LT), 1:59.56; 2. Dominic Capaci (HR); 3. Nick Brown (HR); 4. Zach Mead (Mon); 5. Riley Newman (LL); 6. Sebastian Brudnicki (Mid); 7. Noah Chup (Lake); 8. Ryan Cavage (WW). 200 — 1. Cyril Babcanec (Lake), 23.22; 2. Hunter Conklin (Blue); 3. Brennan Gilhool (Mon); 4. Mohammad Chesson (Han); 5. Tyler Schwartstrauber (Lake); 6. Brandon Brueckner (Han); 7. Matt Bergey (LT); 8. Charlie Pettinato (HC). 3,200 — 1. Andrew Healey (HC), 9:58.61; 2. Aaron Hoda (HR); 3. Jacob Pasake (WW); 4. Owen Brewer (Mon); 5. Lukas Volpetti (HR); 6. Connor Stevens (HR); 7. Peyton Jones (Elk); 8. Nick Coy (Mon). 1,600 relay — 1. Lake (Tyler Schwartstrauber, Logan Bednash, Matthew Pidgeon, Cyril Babcanec), 3:28.60; 2. HR (Nick Brown, Dominic Capaci, Dylan Weybrecht, Jonathan Weybrecht)3:28.59 (SQ); 3. Mon (Brennan Gilhool, Collin Chidester, Mike Henry, Harley Mulline); 4. Dun (Gavin Darcy, Nathan Fangio, KC King Lorilla, Greg McDade); 5. WW (Cody Kurtz, Brandon O’Sullivan, Jacob Pasake, Ryan Atcavage); 6. LL (Floyd McRoy, Connor O’Brien, Nick Wnuk, Riley Newman); 7. Elk (Brett Carney, Noah Cusatis, Cody Oswald, Seth Owens); 8. LT (Matt Kinback, Miguel Ella, Dakota Moyle, Matt Bergey).
High jump — 1. Matt Kinback (LT), 6-02; 2. Brandon Chafin (Han); 3. Matt Nelson (HC); 4. Tom Gilmartin (River); 5. Gabe Springer (Mey); 6. Casey Kaminski (LL); T-7. Colin Mondi (Mon); T-7. Canyon Stone (Sus). Pole vault — 1. Ryan Atcavage (WW), *14-01; 2. Colin Mondi (Mon); 3. Ethan Sorber (NW); 4. Tom Heller (Lake); 5. Noah McGovern (NW); 6. Maverick Tims (Mon); 7. Nick Borgacci (Mid). Long jump — 1. Je’Vondrea McClair (Mey), 21-09.50; 2. Matt Nelson (HC), 21-06.50 (SQ); 3. Colin Munley (Mid); 4. Jason Jablonowski (Carb); 5. Najese Hood (Mey); 6. Mason Deakin (Sus); 7. Abbad Hamlet (Han); 8. Dakota States (Elk). Triple jump — 1. Najese Hood (Mey), 44-02; 2. Je’Vondrea McClair (Mey); 3. Brandon Brueckner (Han); 4. Nathan Fangio (Dun); 5. Matt Nelson (HC); 6. Mitchell Mazonkey (NW); 7. Kaden Taylor (GAR); 8. Collin Chidester (Mon). Shot put — 1. Tom Malandri (Mid), 47-01; 2. Donald Clark (River); 3. Kevin Johnson (Lake); 4. King Rose (River); 5. Devin Nash (Mon); 6. Salvatore Gurnari (Han); 7. Frank Burke (Carb); 8. Matt Stankiewicz (Mid). Discus — 1. Stephen Liuzzo (Lak), 154-01; 2. Donald Clark (River), 148-0 (SQ); 3. Namir Murphy (Mey); 4. Colin Mondi (Mon); 5. Kevin Kelly (Carb); 6. Tom Malandri (Mid); 7. Luai Hassan (WW); 8. Colton Traver (Mt.V). Javelin — 1. Gavin Darcy (Dun), 202-09; 2. Jason Jablonowski (Carb), 186-10 (SQ); 3. Namir Murphy (Mey); 4. Seth Dippel (Lake); 5. Dylan Murphy Walck (WW); 6. Matt Saxe (NW); 7. Luke Yanisko (Dun); 8. Willie Wallace (Mey).
SQ - State Qualifier.
Note: District 2 champion automatically qualifies for PIAA championships.
* - District 2 record.