Plenty of discussions surrounded Southeastern Pennsylvania boys' track and field this spring. Some were enjoyable. Competitors and coaches might like to forget some others.
For all the times people praised the 800-meter running of Central Bucks South's Tom Mallon, they wondered what happened to Cheltenham's 4x400 relay team.
For every mention of Methacton's Carlton Lavong and his dominance in the long and triple jumps, there was a conversation about Germantown's Brandon Thompson and his disappointment in the 300 hurdles at the PIAA state championships.
Here are some of the highs and lows of the season.
Team of the year. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Cardinal O'Hara is Southeastern Pennsylvania's top team, regardless of classification.
Central Bucks South and La Salle deserved consideration. But no area team came close to matching the Lions' balance in late-season big meets. O'Hara was dominant in the sprint relays, stellar in the individual sprints, and exceptional in the field events. That enabled the Lions to tie Central Bucks South for second place in the team standings at the Class AAA state meet.
Coach of the year. With an elite half-miler in Mallon and the state's fastest 4x100 relay team, Mike Cox had an importance to this year's Central Bucks South squad that might be underestimated.
But Cox's training, decision-making, ability to motivate, and dedication to the program were the major reasons for the Titans' success. He had his runners so revved up that they beat North Penn in a dual meet last month. That was the Knights' first dual-meet loss since 1995. The winning streak spanned 131 meets.
It also turned what was known primarily as a middle-distance school into a sprint factory this season. Cox certainly gets the best out of his personnel.
Tough luck of the year. Brandon Thompson moved back to Philadelphia from Indianola, Miss., because he wanted to avenge last season's eighth-place finish in the Class AAA state 300 hurdles.
It didn't happen.
After posting the third-fastest qualifying time in the preliminaries, the Germantown senior was unable to run in the final. He suffered a hip injury while competing in the 110 hurdles final earlier that day.
Surprise of the year. Bensalem's Eric Masington will point out that he was overlooked in the discus before the season. And he's right, but for good reason.
Last spring, the senior didn't even qualify for the District 1 Class AAA meet. This spring, though, Masington won the district meet with the state's season-best toss, 178 feet, 1 inch. He then won the discus at the state meet.
Performances of the year. The outings by seniors Mallon and Lavong at the state meet were memorable.
Mallon, a Stanford signee, won the Class AAA 800 in 1 minute, 49.31 seconds to surpass the meet record of 1:50.31 set by Penn Wood's Mark Fowler in 1984. Mallon's time was also the second-fastest in the nation, according to MileSplit.us.
Lavong swept the Class AAA long-jump and triple-jump titles. In the triple jump, the Michigan State signee jumped 50-5 to break the state-meet record of 50-31/2 set by Muhlenberg's Chris Aikens in 1993. Lavong followed that by leaping a state-best 24-81/2 to win the long jump. According to MileSplit.us, it was the fourth-longest jump in the nation.
Heartbreak of the year. Cheltenham's 4x400 relay team hoped to improve on the nation's sixth-fastest time - 3:13.60, according to MileSplit.us. - that it ran to win the Suburban One American heat at the Penn Relays.
However, an injury to Bernard Bennett-Green denied the Panthers their goal. Cheltenham eventually finished a disappointing third at the Class AAA state meet in 3:18.49.