For the life of him, Dean Lamming just can’t figure out his running mate, Dominik Graf.
Graf, a 16-year-old long distance runner from Sir James Dunn, literally ran away with the junior boys 3,000-metres at the City High School Track and Field Championships Tuesday evening.
He won the race in a blistering time of nine minutes 37.50 seconds at the Jo Forman Track.
“I don’t understand it,” said a flabbergasted Lamming. “To this day, I still don’t know how he got so good. I mean, he’s the same age as the rest of us. He’s just an exceptional athlete.”
Graf will be back in action today as the meet resumes at 9:30 a.m.
Graf broke the tape nearly 400 metres that’s one entire lap of the track ahead of Lamming, his SJD teammate, who finished second in 10:57.41.
“My goal was to not get lapped by him,” Lamming said.
“It seems like most of the time, I’m running for second place. I know I can’t beat him.”
Surprisingly, Graf trailed Bawating’s Adam Bertrand for the first 600 metres. However, with four laps remaining, Graf was well ahead of the field and led by 120 metres. With three laps to go, he widened the gap to 150 metres.
Bertrand finished fourth behind bronze medallist Bronson Kovacs of St. Mary’s college (10:58.81).
“I usually start off too fast, actually,” Graf said. “This time, it was perfect.”
Graf’s pace was deliberate, methodical, almost mechanical.
He never collapsed at the finish line, and save a few beads above his brow, was all but void of sweat.
Before the race, Graf, who admitted being nervous, said he wasn’t concerned with breaking the meet’s 23-year-old record time of 9:18.30. (Website editor's note: record set in 1983 by Wayne Dustin)
“I want to win the race first, and worry about the time later,” he said more than one hour before the race.
Last season, Graf captured gold in the midget boys’ 3,000, 1,500 and 800-metre events. In doing so, he narrowly missed posting record times in the latter two, falling one second and two seconds shy, respectively.
“My coach, (Pat Sanderson), had that intention,” Graf said of breaking the junior 3,000 m record Tuesday.
Leading by such a substantial margin actually hindered Graf’s chance at setting a new benchmark.
“It slows you down,” he said of having a lengthy early lead. “In the back of your mind, you want to ease up because you know you’ve won the race.”
Tuesday’s race was Lamming’s first in a demanding 24 hours. Today, he’ll race the 800 and 1,500-metre events.
“I’m more endurance,” said Graf, also a cross-country star for SJD. “I don’t have speed, really.”
Other junior division winners included Colin Kimball (boys 300-metre hurdles 46.37; SJD), Andrea Croft (girls 300-m hurdles 54.60; SJD) and Rhiannon Johns (girls 3,000 m 11:51.65; SJD).
In senior division action, winners were Kailem Pelletier (boys 400-m hurdles 1:03.34; SJD), John Harvev (3,000 m 9:47.14; St. Mary’s), Kristen Averv (400-m hurdles 1:14.30; SJD) and Amanda Maione (3,000 m 12:03.43; Korah).
And, in the midget division, gold medallists included Jamie Wetzl (300-m hurdles 45:00; SJD), Mark Lomas (3,000 m 11:03.07; SJD), Treena Willoughby (300-m hurdles 56.30; Korah) and Tessa Kasch (3,000 m 12:13.85; St. Mary’s).
Sir James Dunn leads five of six divisions in points and holds the overall lead heading into final-day action today.