Clairton’s Vinny Moody admitted that he was close to tears as he hobbled across the finish line on one leg during his preliminary heat.
The WPIALs fastest man coming into the Class AA track and field championships sure wasn’t going to leave Baldwin with that title after pulling up lame just short of the finish line of the 100-meter dash with a hamstring injury and failing to qualify for the finals by two-hundredths of a second.
Moody, who lost out on the gold last year to his cousin, Trenton Coles, by one-hundredth of a second, was done — he wanted to go home and just forget about competing in the 200 a couple hours later.
“I really wanted to quit, honestly I did,” Moody said.
“It’s the race that got me into running track in the first place, and I knew I was the fastest dude out there, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I talked to my family, and they told me that even if I was hurt that I could still win. In the end, I just had too much pride to quit.”
Moody battled his way through a pulled hamstring and a tight groin to win the WPIAL gold in the 200 with a season-best 22.33, outdistancing his nearest competitor by nearly a half second to qualify for next weekend’s state championships at Shippensburg.
“As long as I have run track, I have never been a fan of the 200, but I just knew that I was good at it,” Moody said.
Even though he will have to sit and watch the 100 next week knowing that he could’ve easily won a state title, Moody will accept the consolation prize.
“I would much rather win them both, that’s what I came here to do,” Moody said.
“If I would have had to choose one, it would’ve been the 100. This feels good, but it hurts that I can’t compete in my favorite race.”
Moody was fortunate that he even took part in the 200 let alone come away with the gold. He was visibly grimacing in pain and grabbing his hamstring and groin while warming up before the race.
Moody thought he wasn’t going to make it very far out of the starting blocks.
“I was feeling pretty bad,” Moody said. “I really thought I was going to pull up again. That was the only thing that was in my head. At the end, I felt like I was going to pull up short again. But I said to myself ‘no, you don’t have the 100, you have to win.’ ”
Moody got out of the blocks fast and took over the race by the time he reached the straightaway before cruising to the finish line for his first gold medal.
“I even hobbled to the end, and I crushed them,” Moody said.
A year ago, Moody hurt the hamstring early in the year and quit running the 200.
Now, he’s glad that he had a fallback plan.
“Being able to have something left to be able to get to states was definitely a motivation for me,” Moody said.
“It is really hurting me that I can’t go to states to run in the 100, so I know I am going to take the 200 a lot more serious.”
But make no mistake, Moody wanted the gold in the 100 and felt that he would’ve had it if it wasn’t for him pulling up.
“The last 30 I started to feel it tighten up, but I tried to push throughout, but it locked up,” Moody said. “It basically brought me to a full stop. If I would’ve run through, I would’ve won easily. No disrespect to the kid who won it, but I would’ve blown away a 11.23.”
Moody ran a 10.75 at the Baldwin Invitational two weeks ago.
Other local athletes who qualified for the state championships were: East Allegheny’s K.J. Marshall (200, high jump, long jump); South Allegheny’s Ryan Bednar (shot put); Elizabeth Forward’s Matt Bernadowski (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles), 400 girls relay team, Samantha Merz (discus); Norwin’s boys 3200 relay team, girls 400 relay team, Kelsey Plecenik (pole vault); West Mifflin’s Kenny Hughes (300 hurdles), Josh Harris (high jump), Davon Dutrieulle (triple jump), Deilenna DeVaughn (shot put and discus); Caroline Opeferman (long jump).