By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – Effingham County’s long-distance runner Levi Thomas says he’s starting to get his endurance back after several bouts with COVID during the offseason.
Thursday at the Rebel Invitational, the senior looked as if the final six weeks of the track and field season could be his chance to run away with some school’s distance records.
Thomas set an ECHS’ mark by posting a time of 4:41.44 in the 1600-meter run and returned about an hour later to register a personal best in the 3200 – albeit not a school record – to highlight the six-team competition in the second-annual event.
“Levi is a hard worker. He’s been working since ninth grade and to come away with an accomplishment like that in his senior year is great,” Rebels coach Jordan Brown said. “He almost did it at South (missing by less than a second at Mustang Madness on March 3), but to do it at home is special.”
Thomas broke the previous 1600 school record of 4:42.65 set by Jesse Campbell in 2013. Thomas already holds the ECHS cross country record of 16:54.
Thursday, he ran a 10:43.02 in the 3200, which was ninth best in school history, about 17 seconds behind Campbell.
“(Because of COVID) I thought this senior year was going to be a bust, but I’m getting stronger,” said Thomas, who has shaved off nearly a minute from his 1600 time at the season-opening Alley Invitational in Richmond Hill on Feb. 17. “I’d like to get (the 3200 record) too.”
Thomas isn’t the only Rebel runner eyeing the record book. ECHS’ 4 X 200 relay team of Timmy Brown, Cory Dekle, Dakari Walker and Jeremiah Chance set the school record with a time of 1:30.60 at Southeast Bulloch on Feb. 24. Thursday, the quartet was just .12 of a second off its top performance while winning the event.
The improving track program under Brown and his assistant Colleen Kennehan had several winning efforts.
Dekle, a sophomore, won the triple jump with a leap of 42 feet, 11 inches.
Brooke Maseda led the girls by posting her season-best time of 5:44.78 to win the 1600. She also placed second in the 3200.
And the Rebels girls 4 X 200 relay team had a first-place finish.
In an outing challenging the South Effingham record book, Devin Hallman missed the school’s 400-meter record by .02 of a second after winning with a 51.11.
Mustangs’ Tyler Phillips claimed first-place finishes in the 1600 and 3200. Justice Mydell and Jamari Fields captured wins in the high jump and long jump respectively.
For the SEHS girls, Brianna Barber won the 800. School-record holder Riley Browne won the high jump. Allie Grassi cleared 8-0 to top the pole vaulters.
And South’s girls won the 4 X 800 relay.
“Our relays looked good, the field events looked good, our distance runners are dropping their times, I feel like we’re in a good place,” Mustangs coach Rico Campbell said.
Rebels, Mustangs finishing among the top three
ECHS’ boys – Jeremiah Chance (200, 2nd, 22.92), Robbie Velasquez (800, 3rd, 2:09.15), Levi Thomas (1600, 2nd, 4:41.44 and 3200, 3rd, 10:43.02), Donovan Morrison (300H, 3rd, 45.63), 4 X 200 (1st, 1:30.72), 4 X 400 (2nd, 3:41.37), Cory Dekle (TJ, 1st, 42-11).
ECHS’ girls – Brooke Maseda (1600, 1st, 5:44.78 and 3200, 2nd, 12:42.85), Roneish Goss (HJ, 2nd, 4-10), Braylin Nease (HJ, 3rd, 4-10), 4 X 100 (3rd, 52.11), 4 X 200 (1st, 1:46.98).
SEHS’ boys – Devin Hallman (400, 1st, 51.11), Amari Branch (400, 2nd, 51.38), Tyler Phillips (1600, 1st, 4:36.63) and (3200, 1st, 10:06.59), Julian Howard (1600, 3rd, 4:42.53) and (3200, 2nd, 10:10.58), Zachary Stapleton (110H, 3rd, 17.26) and (300H, 2nd, 44.18), 4 X 100 (2nd, 46.63), 4 X 200 (3rd, 1:39.99), 4 X 400 (1st, 3:33.04), 4 X 800 (1st, 8:36.42), Justice Mydell (HJ, 1st, 6-0), Jamari Fields (LJ, 1st, 21-0.5), O’Ron France (LJ, 2nd, 20-6).
SEHS’ girls – Brianna Barber (1600, 3rd, 6:08.37) and (800, 1st, 2:44.63), Caroline Motes (400, 3rd, 1:03.29), Christeon Lewis (100H, 2nd, 16.21) and (300H, 3rd, 50.39), Mia Fitzpatrick (800, 2nd, 2:45.78), Lily McDonald (3200, 3rd, 12:54.66), Samantha Grooms (Dis, 3rd, 82-9), Riley Browne (HJ, 1st, 5-0), Allie Grassi (Pole, 1st, 8-0), Madison Mills (Trp, 3rd, 30-5.5), 4 X 800 (1st, 11:11.81), 4 X 400 (2nd, 4:29.27), 4 X 200 (2nd, 1:53.39) and (3rd, 1:57.33).