An eerie silence swept across the crowd at Seth Grove Stadium as Coatesville's Dymere Miller crossed the finish line first in the AAA boys 4x100 meter relay.
It was as if it was on cue because, well, it was. As Miller crossed the line, he brought his finger up to his mouth making a hush gesture. The stunned crowd was processing what it had just witnessed.
The cheers would eventually rain down, but for a brief moment, it was quiet.
A week earlier on the same track, Shippensburg University was home to an all-time state record in the 4x100. At the District 3 championships, The Central Dauphin East boys ran 41.10 to break a 21-year-old all-time best mark, set by Harrisburg back in 1998 of 41.14. That CD East record, however, would only last seven days.
The many onlookers that filled the stands at Shippensburg were perhaps expecting an encore from CD East. Instead, it was Coatesville, the District 1 champions in the event, that captured the win and the record. The Red Raiders became the first Pennsylvania team ever under 41 seconds in the relay, clocking a 40.99 for the AAA state title to break that record.
"We knew how fast we are, we knew how talented we are," second leg Eric Kirk said. "We just had to execute our handoffs."
And the handoffs were pretty. Very pretty.
Dapree Bryant led off strong and got the baton in the hands of Kirk. Coatesville seized the advantage with a good backstretch run by Kirk. He gave the stick to Camari Stocker, who got it in the hands of Miller, the anchor leg.
Miller, one of the season's top breakthroughs in the sprints (he would go on to take third in the AAA 200 final), would have to hold off a hard-charging anchor leg from CD East's Shawn Brown, who won the 100 final earlier in the day.
But the gap was too much and Miller brought it to the line for the win.
"My other three legs executed and I just had to bring it in the win," Miller said.
Each of the Coatesville boys thought they had a sub-41 time in them. Well, except for maybe one.
"I got to admit, I'm surprised we did that," Stocker said with a beaming smile, differing from his three teammates. "That's 0.5 off our last PR."
But it was the atmosphere of Seth Grove Stadium that gave a boost to Coatesville on Saturday. The mid-day crowd at Shippensburg is always incredible and the Raiders fed off that.
"Before the race was starting, I heard the beep and my adrenaline was just pumping down your whole arm," Stocker added. "You got to just let go and trust your marks because we did a lot of preparing for this moment."
"We knew it was going to be a big crowd and loud," Kirk said. "That was just extra adrenaline."
|3A BOYS 4X100 METER RELAY FINALS|
|2||Central Dauphin East (CD East)||41.22||1|
The stage was set all season long for a showdown between Coatesville and CD East. At April's Penn Relays, the two team became the first two 4x100s in PA state history to make the Championship of America since 2009.
That was the only time the two teams faced off this season with Coatesville placing fifth to CD East's ninth place run in the loaded field that Jamaica's St. Jago won in 40.83. The state's two top 4x1s would not meet again until the state final on Saturday.
Coatesville got the last word at the state meet.
Those two relays now sit at No. 1 and No. 2 all-time in PA state history. The 1998 Harrisburg squad, which sat atop the state for 21 years, is now third. The bar seems to rise every year, but it could be sometime before another quartet comes close to touching the likes of Coatesville and CD East.
Or maybe PA's fastest relays ever will inspire in onslaught of quick 4x1s in the years to come. But no doubt the two squads pushed each other.
Kirk summed it up best: "Being the fastest four in Pennsylvania state history is just amazing."