LOUISVILLE — Coming off the final curve and seeing nobody beside him was "like no other," Isaiah Burrus said. "It felt great."
Burrus, a Mercer County sophomore, maintained control down the final straightaway, winning the 400-meter dash Thursday in Class 2A State Track and Field Championships at the University of Louisville.
Highlands successfully defended the girls' team championship with 91 points. Central took second with 74, followed by Rockcastle County with 48.
Central, boys' runner-up last year, dominated this time by scoring 100 points. Perennial power Tilghman was a distant second with 68 points, followed by defending champion Covington Catholic with 441/2.
Burrus finished in a personal best of 49.84 seconds. He held off Central freshman Jaz Hayes (50.65).
"My first curve had to be strong," said Burrus, adding that "I always expect to win."
Other boys' winners included: Franklin County's Robert Sandlin in the 1,600 (4:21.21); East Jessamine's Cameron Thomas in the long jump (21-101/4); the Russell pair of Max Rogers in the triple jump (45-5) and Collin McKenzie in the 300 hurdles (39.46); Casey County's Jordan Ellison in the pole vault (12-6), and Boyle County's Lamar Dawson in the shot put (52-9).
Dawson, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior, also plays linebacker and tight end for the Rebels football team. He got untracked midway through his six throws.
"The kid from Letcher County threw it 50 feet," Dawson said, "so I guess that motivated me to throw farther than him."
Dawson shattered his personal best (49-11) and set a school record. Letcher County Central's Dakota Cornett wound up second at 50-71/2.
Mason County's Seth Adkins edged 100-meter winner Erico Smith of Spencer County to win the 200 (22.19). Adkins also led off the Royals' first-place 4-by-400 relay (3:24.16).
Central's boys had first-place finishes in the 4-by-100-, 4-by-200- and 4-by-800-meter relays. The Yellowjackets also got wins from Haile Jemane in the 800 (1:56.92), Risik Lado in the 3,200 (9:51.19) and Diaz Bolden in the 110 hurdles (14.62).
Bolden came from behind over the last three hurdles to nip Tilghman's Caric Denson in the 110 highs, 14.62 to 14.67. They finished in reverse order a year ago.
Lexington Catholic's best finish came from Nicholas Laureano, a freshman who placed third in the 3,200.
The Highlands girls got off to a quick start when Ashley Collinsworth (12.47) and Maria Weyer (12.71) flew to a 1-2 finish in the 100. Laura Gelman won the pole vault (9-6) and Weyer anchored Bluebird wins in the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 relays.
The latter was perhaps the best finish of the meet, with Weyer charging from perhaps five steps back to overtake Louisville Christian's flailing Chalisa Helm just before crossing the finish line.
"It was very nerve-wracking, I guess," said Weyer, a sophomore. "I was very far behind here and just came back. She actually hit me in the stomach (in the final stride) but I just kept running."
In the 100, Weyer got the nod for second place over Western Hills freshman Alisha Adair, who matched Weyer's time of 12.71.
Adair came back, though, to capture the 200 (25.75) and take another third in the 400.
Rockcastle County picked up wins from Samantha Smith in the long jump (18-03/4) and triple jump (36-5), and Michaela Hunter in the 400 (58.51).
"I was trying to break the (2A meet) record, 18-4," Smith said of the long jump, which she won by more than a foot.
Smith, a senior, can settle for knowing that she jumped 18-73/4 a week earlier in regional competition.
Hunter led a 1-2-3 finish of freshmen in the 400, followed by Fairdale's Tia Weston and Adair.
"I kind of let everyone fade in front of me," Hunter said. "Then ... at the end, I just kick it in instead of sprinting my hardest (all the way) and then having to coast in. I wait ... and sprint my hardest in."
Boyle County's Logan Arnold, Emily Hall, Emily Wesley and Cheyenne Evans combined to win the 4-by-400 relay (4:06.46). Pendleton County's Kelsey McCain won the 1,600 (5:27.24).
Jackie Stevens, a Bullitt East senior, celebrated her 18th birthday by successfully defending her titles in the shot put and discus.
Class A and Class 3A meets will be contested Saturday.