By BOB YORK
Jack Shumway’s good-by gift to Deerfield Academy was a moment in time – 47.9 seconds to be exact.
It doesn’t sound like much, because, fortunately for the Big Green, it wasn’t much. It was the Deerfield senior’s clocking in the anchor leg of the 4×400 relay at this spring’s Division I New England Track and Field Championships. And when Shumway snapped the tape to capture that final event of the day, the Deerfield boys’ track team was as good as gold for the first time ever in the school’s annals.
“They don’t have buzzer beaters in track and field,” quipped Big Green coach Mike Schloat after his team finished atop the final standings with 91 points, just two points ahead of Loomis Chaffee (89) and a dozen in front of Choate (79). “But if they did, this would have been one.”
Indeed. For those skeptics out there who never thought they would see the words “track” and “drama“ in the same sentence, you have now. And Schloat would take it a step further by stating, “I doubt you could have scripted something like this in your wildest dreams … I participated in six track championships (three indoor and three outdoor) at Williams College, but this was the most exciting day I’ve ever had in the sport.”
It wasn’t just the victory – the school’s first in 73 years of competition in the New England Prep School Track Association – that had Schloat beaming from ear to ear, however. Retracing his team’s footsteps that day couldn’t help but bring another huge smile to his face, as the Big Green skipper described what went on that day as “a perfect storm of talent. For us to win, everything had to go just right … and it did. By the end of the day, we had received personal best times, distances and heights from nearly every one of our athletes. In fact, our kids improved on their seeds in 14 of the 17 events.”
To make a long story short, “Deerfield and Loomis went into that last event … the 4×400 relay all tied up with 81 points apiece,” said Schloat, whose girls’ squad finished eighth on the day. And adding to the intrigue of this showdown was the fact that Loomis was the top seed in the event (3:26), while Deerfield was ranked second (3:29).
“Both teams traded the lead over the first two legs of the race,” remembers Schloat, but Loomis’ third runner picked up the pace and by the time Shumway, whom Schloat describes as “one of the finest hurdlers to ever compete for Deerfield,” grabbed the baton for the anchor leg, his Loomis counterpart had about a five-meter lead on him.
But that lead slowly evaporated, as Shumway steadily closed the gap, “and finished arguably the greatest relay leg in Deerfield history,” said Schloat, as Shumway passed the Loomis runner on the backstretch and hit the tape at 3:22.08, while Loomis posted 3:26.36, just 1.18 off the pace.
The relay effort, which also included Kellam Witherington (12), George Reich (13) and Reed Horton (14) not only gave this crew an unblemished 6-0 mark on the season, but also shattered the school’s existing record, which had been in the books since 1984.
Shumway’s dramatic finale wouldn’t have been possible, however, if teammate Robert Beit (13) hadn’t stepped up in the previous event – the 3,000-meter run – and pulled off a fourth-place finish.
Heading into the 3,000, Deerfield found itself clinging to a slim 77-73 lead. Loomis, however, had the third-seeded runner in the event, while the best the Big Green had to offer was a ninth seed. Beit turned out to be yet another of Deerfield’s overachievers on the day though, as he moved into fourth place halfway through the race and never gave that spot up.
“Robert’s fourth-place finish (9:32.76) was huge for us,” explained Schloat, “as it gave us four points and put us in an 81-81 tie with Loomis and set up a winner-take-all scenario in the relay.”
Shumway proved to be the big man for the Big Green on this day. The Stanford University bound speedster who will try out for the Cardinal track team as a walk-on, received this year’s Deerfield Academy Track Trophy as the team’s dominant male competitor. He earned that distinction by finishing the New England meet with three gold medals and broke three school records in doing so. He won the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 14.84, the 300-meter hurdles in 38.68 and the relay.
Shumway wasn’t the only golden guy in Green on this day of days, however, as Deerfield had a number of participants who collected souvenirs from the summit. In fact, the other three members of the 4×400 relay were quite busy prior to their finale as well. Reich grabbed a first-place finish in the 800-meter run (1:56.81) while Horton wound up second in the 1,500-meter run (4:06.77) and fourth in the 800-meter run (2:02.04). Witherington, meanwhile, placed fifth in the 400-meter dash (50.33), as Fred Quesada (12) was sixth in the 1,500 (4:13:38).
If Shumway was Deerfield’s MVP on the day, then Harry Glor (12), who is headed to Georgetown University to play football, had to be the Big Green’s Unsung Hero. This track and field rookie, hauled in a pair of bronze medals and chipped in 14 points through four events, “and without every one of those points Harry earned, we wouldn’t have won the championship,” said Schloat.
Glor placed third in the high hump (5-10) and the 200-meter dash (22.68), while he placed fifth in the javelin (150-0). He also wound up fifth in the 4×100 relay, along with Blake O’Neal, Kelechi Akusobi, who received the team’s 1983 Team Award, and Mike Chandler. Chandler also posted an eighth-place finish (11:57) in the 100-meter dash.
In the field events, Jeff Van Oot (12) and Wyatt Sharpe (13) both earned bronze medals. Van Oot in the shot put (48-9) and Sharpe in the pole vault (11-6). Elsewhere, Rajab Curtis was fourth in the javelin (152-1). Mike Walters was sixth in the triple jump (42-5) and 10th in the long jump (19-6).
Over on the girls’ side of the ledger, the Big Green accumulated 33 points to place eighth for the second consecutive year. Loomis won the title with 111 points, while Andover was second at 102 and Exeter third at 86.
Kerry Krause (12), who has committed to a collegiate track career at Princeton, led the charge by scoring in three events. This year’s winner of the girls’ Track Trophy won the high jump competition (5-0), ran the anchor leg of a third-place 4×400 relay team (4:08.06), which also included Carley Porter (12), Connie Rhodes (12) and Tatum McInerney (13). The foursome has established a new school record in the relay on three separate occasions and this bronze-medal effort was its latest bid.
Krause also produced a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles in a clocking of 16.11.
Although she finished fifth in the 1,500-meter run, Devinne Cullinane (14) set a school record in the event with a time of 4:46.79, while Alanna McDonough (12) established a new best school time in the 300-meter hurdles at 47.76, where she finished fourth. Rose Fisher (13) grabbed a bronze medal in the 3,000-meter run (10:32.59), while McInerney was seventh in the 800-meter run (2:28:68).
Kay Kay Ali went 94-10 to place fifth in the discus, while Alexandra Smith was ninth (82-1). In the triple jump, McDonough placed sixth at 33-1, as Emma Witherington was 14th at 30-4. Cat Wyatt was 10th in the long jump at 14-5, with Julia Fissore-O’Leary 11th (14-4). In the javelin, Marly Morgus placed 12th at 86-04.
Fissore-O’Leary was seventh in the 200-meter dash at 27.25, while Porter earned an eighth-spot in the 400-meter dash in 1:02.24 and Jinane Gedeon-Achi was 10th in the 1,500-meter run in 5:00.77. Rhodes, Porter, Wyatt and Fissore-O’Leary combined to place eighth in the 4×100 relay at 51:30.