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Boston City League track & field championships

Latin Academy girls stun O’Bryant for title

Latin Academy’s Britney Firmin collapses after anchoring the 4 x 400 relay team to victory. Latin Academy’s Britney Firmin collapses after anchoring the 4 x 400 relay team to victory. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Hannah Becker
Globe Correspondent / May 16, 2012
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After 18 consecutive years of an O’Bryant stronghold on the Boston City League girls’ outdoor track and field championships, there’s a new champion in town.

Latin Academy pulled off the upset, scoring 126 points and dethroning the Tigers at Monday and Tuesday afternoon’s city track championships at White Stadium in Jamaica Plain.

“I think that’s great that we could break that 18-year record, that’s fantastic. We just have a great group of kids and they have been doing really well for the last few years,’’ said Latin Academy coach Brian Leussler. “That makes it even better.’’

O’Bryant put up a fight, coming in second with 107 points.

“Very disappointed, but things come to an end. We have to learn to live with it,’’ O’Bryant coach Jose Ortega said. “Now we can just revamp, refocus and start a whole new tradition.’’

Brighton (79), South Boston (49), and Snowden (31) rounded out the top five.

The Dragons took victories in seven events, including both relays and finished second in four more to secure the victory.

“The big thing is there is a lot of younger talent, too,’’ Leussler said. “A lot of eighth, ninth, 10th graders. So they are looking really good.’’

None of his younger runners stepped up more than seventh grader Catherina Van Even, who finished second in the 2-mile in 14:13.70, cutting two minutes off her personal best to surprise Leussler with her performance.

“She did incredible,’’ he said.

South Boston won three events, the 200, triple jump, and javelin, with Daitannah Smith taking both the 200 and javelin. Brighton’s Esther Nkwah took home gold medals in both the long jump and the 100 hurdles.

On the boys’ side, O’Bryant climbed back to the top of the podium after a two-year hiatus, narrowly defeating Latin Academy, 79.5 to 79 points.

Initially, it looked like the Tigers had taken a bigger lead, but after a scoring error was found in which the boys’ mile results were not included in the team score, the meet became much closer.

“I was sitting here making dinner and I thinking ‘The meet was so close, we tied for second and were 3 1/2 points behind,’’ Leussler said. “No one included the boys’ mile.’’

Although the Dragons won the mile, O’Bryant came in third and sixth to claim the victory after the scoring changes.

East Boston took third with 69 points, while Brighton (49) and CASH (48) rounded out the top five.

O’Bryant boys won four events, including a strong performance in the meet’s final race, the 4 x 400 relay (3:54.30), which they needed to win to squeak past the Dragons.

“They stepped up, that was it,’’ said Ortega. “They had to beat LA time-wise to win it, otherwise they would have lost and gave it to them.’’

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