SHIPPENSBURG – The Washington High School track and field coaching staff had been searching all season for the right combination of athletes to run the 3,200-meter relay.
Last year, DeQuay Isbell ran with the group sparingly because of his participation in several other events. One simple agreement changed everything for the Prexies.
Wash High assistant coach Tom Schneck approached Isbell two weeks ago as he did all season with the same question. Schneck wanted the sophomore to join senior Quorteze Levy, senior D’Heaven Kelley and freshman Ben Heim in the relay at the WPIAL Individual Championships at Baldwin High School last week.
Isbell said yes, as long as Schneck would train him.
The foursome won the school’s first PIAA Class AA championship in the event Saturday at Shippensburg University with a time of 7:58.35. The mark broke the previous school record of 7:59.04, which was set here in 1998 by the Prexies’ second-place relay squad. Levy was a member of last year’s relay team that placed 12th.
“(DeQuay) ran it for us last year, and we tried him out,” Wash High distance coach Susie Koehler said. “He’s obviously a very multitalented athlete. We really didn’t have a fit, but this year, it came together and he knew we had potential to do this.”
Kelley started the race for the Prexies and held a substantial lead after two laps. Heim held the lead after the second leg before Isbell and Levy closed out the others for the state title. Isbell ran a split of 1:56.01 in the third leg and Levy followed with a 1:55.05.
“(D’Heaven) is our get-out man,” Levy said. “He gets ahead and gives us some nice leads. (Ben) maintains it and (DeQuay) brings it home.”
Isbell, who also placed fifth in the 400-meter relay with a time of 49.75, credited his teammates and coaches for encouraging him to make tremendous strides as a sophomore.
“I had them urging me on all season, telling me I needed to do it,” Isbell said. “I gave in and started doing it late in the season, and when I came out, I ran a good time. It stuck with me that we could do big things with this group. It showed in the end that we could do great things.”
Their ‘get-out man’, Kelley, assisted the team’s first-place showing during Friday’s preliminaries by dominating the first leg. The performance gave the team confidence as they beat second-place Wyomissing by more than four seconds.
“We came out here and wanted to break the school record,” Kelley said. “We wanted to prove something to ourselves, and that’s what we did.”
Levy, Isbell and Kelley, joined by freshman Isaiah Robinson, also took fifth place in the 1,600 relay with a time of 3:36.76.
Levy takes fourth
Levy, who won the WPIAL 300 hurdles title a week ago at Baldwin, placed fourth in the event Saturday with a time of 38.74.
Donaldo Benjamin of Delaware Valley Charter, who placed ahead of Levy in the third heat of Friday’s preliminaries, took first place in the finals and was followed by Austin Shupp of Palmerton and Tyler Burger of Northwest.
Levy took second place in the event last year with a time of 39.10.
Prexies’ girls 400 relay medals
The Wash High girls 400 relay team, which lost senior Alyssa Wise yesterday to a hamstring injury, took fifth place in the event Saturday with a time of 50.03.
Central Columbia won the event in 48.15.