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Dunston Organizes 10th Private School Inviational
By: Kevin Milsted
webmaster@mocorunning.com
2016-02-06


It wasn't enough for Georgetown Prep cross country coach and retired track coach Greg Dunston to boast about organizing 43 consecutive Woodward Relays or to take over ownership of the Georgetown Prep XC Classic which began in 1971. Now Dunston is in the double digits with his signature indoor track meets: the Private School Invitational and the Last Track to Philly.

When asked to comment on his milestone 10th consecutive Private School Invitational meet today, Dunston remarked, "I had no idea."

It is understandable that Dunston wasn't keeping track. The Woodward Relays, which he first organized in 1973, was his first baby. That meet survived a school closure and four venue changes. Dunston kept the meet going through a 35 year teaching career and continues to keep the staple Montgomery County relay meet thriving in retirement.

Strangely, the inaugural Private School Invitational and Last Track to Philly meets coincided with Dunston's retirement from teaching. When he stepped away from teaching and coaching at Walter Johnson High School in 2006, he was quickly roped into a coaching opportunity that he could not turn down. The state of the art Hanley Center at Georgetown Preparatory School opened in the 2006-2007 school year. The facility featured an indoor pool and Maryland's newest indoor track facility. The athletic department at prestigious Georgetown Prep School wanted Dunston to take over the school's track program and management of the new indoor track facility.

Dunston's first order of business was to set up several untimed "racing practices" or "run & gun" meets, set up a major invitational to give area private schools an additional competitive opportunity, and set up a meet modeled similarly to the Penn Relays as a sort of last chance to qualify for the Penn Relays. Two years later, a Jesuit Championship Meet was added to the annual calendar, and aside from that, not much has changed in the first ten years of the Hanley Center track facility.

The tenth annual Last Track to Philly Meet was originally scheduled for January 23, but the meet was rescheduled to February 13 due to a snow storm which hit the area hard on the original meet date. Unbeknownst to Dunston at the time, the MPSSAA prohibits athletes from competing after their season ends, and because the rescheduled date is after MPSSAA regional meets, public schools will be disallowed from competing at this year's Last Track to Philly.

In an email dated January 21, 2016, MCPS athletics specialist Jeffrey Sullivan to MCPS athletic directors stated that he "received clarification from the MPSSAA regarding the eligibility of student-athletes participating in the Last Track to Philly," and that "Per the interpretation above, the season is over for student- athletes who do not qualify for the state meet."

It is unlikely that any athlete who qualified for the state meet on February 16 would want to compete in the Last Track to Philly meet four days before the state meet, but Clarksburg head track coach, MPSSAA District 2 State Representative, and MCPS Sport Director for Indoor Track Scott Mathias followed up Sullivan's statement with the following clarification in an email on January 28:

"No one may compete after the region meet other than the qualifiers to the state meet, IN the state meet."

As a result, the tenth annual Last Track to Philly meet next week will be a scaled back and low-key version of itself with no Maryland public school teams. Dunston said that he will remove some events due to the lower participation. Next year's meet promises a return to its typical format with a typical collection of public and private school teams, weather permitting.

Many have called the Georgetown Prep Private School Invitational a "championship" meet. Some have even incorrectly called it a state championship meet for independent schools. Often times the field house has been so packed and the meet has been so competitive that it certainly feels like a state championship meet, but the meet has never been more than a popular invitational with nice awards.

This year's meet moved on a rolling schedule and was well ahead of the time schedule posted on athletic.net, but Dunston said that it was not he who put that schedule online. There were multiple instances of athletes missing events because the meet was so far ahead of the posted schedule.

Perhaps it was the accelerated event schedule, or maybe it was something about the snow or the overall season schedule for teams this year, but today did not seem like the day for personal bests for Montgomery County athletes.

Good Counsel's Jack Wavering ran 1600m and 3200m personal bests last week at Virginia Tech and this week also competed well. Wavering brought his team from behind to win the 4x800m relay in a season best time of 8:27.56, which is third best in the county this year. Wavering returned to break the meet record in the 3200m with a time of 9:26.72, just three seconds off his Virginia Tech performance last week.

Good Counsel's Ian Davis led all athletes in the 55-meter hurdle trials but finished second in the finals behind an athlete from Pennsylvania with a time of 7.82.

Darnell Pratt of Good Counsel won the 300m with a time of 35.58.

The Bullis girls teamed up to win the 4x200m relay in 1:47.31 and placed second in the 4x400m relay in 4:01.65. I have to assume that those were Bullis "B" teams because Bullis's "A" runners are in New York where last night they clocked 3:46.68 in the 4x400m.

Additional award winners (top three) from Montgomery County schools included:

Max Edwards - Georgetown Prep - 6.74 55m (3rd)
Kevin McGivern - Good Counsel - 4:27.80 1600m (2nd)
Good Counsel 4x400m Relay - 3:30.71 (2nd)
Jonathan Paravano - Georgetown Prep - 10-06 Pole Vault (2nd)
Megan Crilly - Good Counsel - 5:25.06 (2nd)
Ayanna Johnson - Bullis - 1:20.86 500m (2nd)





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