The two fastest men in the Metro League more than lived up to the hype at the district championship meet on Friday.
Beaverton senior Anthony Albright and Southridge senior Josiah Carpenter both put on a show at Cronin Field with Albright blitzing to another 100-meter championship while taking second in the 200 and anchoring a Beaver 4x100 relay that placed second behind Jesuit. Carpenter, meanwhile, was asked to take on a king-sized platter of events and delivered the goods with wins in the 200, 400 and runner-up finishes in the 100 and 4X400 relay.
In a way, it was fitting the two close friends were the last two athletes to exit Cronin on Friday night considering the two speed demons essentially shut down the Metro district meet with their high-wattage haste.
"This is what you work for," Albright said. "I've been preparing for this all year. Every other race, even the invitationals are the workouts leading up to districts. All that matters now is getting first in the (100) and 4x100 at state."
Albright and Carpenter were center stage after blitzing through the regular season without a loss on their respective records. And each off-season training partner took turns as Metro's master of ceremonies, displaying speed, tenacity and competitive hunger that dazzled the large crowd on hand.
Carpenter put on one of the more memorable individual Metro championship meet performances in recent memory. The University of Michigan commit began the day taking second to Albright in the 100-meter dash. Seven minutes later, after calmly catching his breath, Carpenter locked into the blocks and won the 400 in 50.29 seconds. Thirty minutes later, after climbing to the top of the medal stand to collect his first place award, Carpenter won the 200 (22.31). And, about 20 or so minutes later he was anchoring the 4x400 relay and nearly caught Jesuit junior Briceton Branch down the home stretch. That's four races, all against elite competition, in sub 55-degree weather all within about a 90-minute span. And to think the worst Carpenter finished was second.
"I gave everything that I had and came out on top," Carpenter said. "Today was just about guts and competing and pushing myself mentally rather than physically. It was a true test and I'm glad it went how it did."
Carpenter said his cardinal goal was to cement himself as a city-wide legend, someone who left a lasting mark on the Metro track scene as a whole. And to end his district career with four Metro championships (two last year as a junior), two second places and one of the grittier showings an athlete can endure was "the best way to go out" Carpenter explained.
"It was brutal, man, I'm not gonna lie," Carpenter said with a laugh. "Honestly, I'm not sure how I did it. But, all I know is I've prepared for nights like these, for competition like this. But, you're never fully ready to push your body to the limit. When you do and you're being tested, that's when you have to hone in and trust that God is gonna give you the strength and wisdom to compete to the best of your ability. Then you just have you to go out and do it and compete like you know how to compete."
At first blush, Albright was clocked running a 10.5 by one of the head timers, which set off an audible, crowd-wide yowl from the Cronin faithful and sent the Beaver senior into a frenzy. Officially, however, Albright was electronically timed at 10.73, which is still blazing considering how cold it was for a mid-May evening. To boot, Albright said his start — normally the best in the state — was slow. With temperatures forecasted to range in the mid to high 70s at Hayward Field on Saturday and a week to prepare, look for an eye-popping 100 final.
"I still got a lot more in me," Albright said. "That's not even my best. I feel like I had a crappy start and I could've come out (of the blocks) harder. When it gets warm at state ... that's the time I'm looking forward to. All I've been working on is the end of my race. I'll run 20 50 (meter dashes) to work on getting my knees higher out of my drive phase and get my endurance up for the end of the race. If I keep getting that right, I'll be unstoppable."
Albright has the second-fastest time in 6A behind Oregon City's Rieker Daniel, who ran a 10.71 at the Three Rivers District championship last week. Albright, however, has his eyes set on Tigard junior Braden Lenzy. Lenzy, a University of Notre Dame football and track commit, can fly. He beat Albright by hundredths of a second at the Nike Twilight Relays earlier this month, but the brawny Beaver is excited about the potential rematch.
"It'll be a good test for me, I hope he runs," Albright said of Lenzy. "I know he's a 200 and 400 guy, but he's nice at the 100 and he'll give me a run for my money. If he does run the 100, that'll help lower my time. If he doesn't, I can't take anyone lightly. I have to go out there thinking we all run the same times."
Sunset sophomore Ethan Reese won the 800 (1:56.63) just in front of Westview junior Keizo Morgan (1:56.94) while Sunset senior Karsten Collins swept the shot put (52-01) and discus (158-04). Aloha senior Jean Rwandika (173-09) won the javelin. Beaverton senior Beau Sheeran cleared 6-06 in the high jump for first place and Beaver senior Chris Blanchard (43-05) took first in the triple jump for the Beavers.