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Livonia — After a long, cold day, it was the final moments of the final race in the Catholic High School League AB championships Tuesday that provided the most exciting finish.

Orchard Lake St. Mary's already had wrapped up its first boys AB title heading into the 4x400-meter relay, but that wasn't good enough for Richard Bowens III, who gave a huge performance in the final leg of the race.

It seemed Warren De La Salle's Allen Stritzinger had a seemingly insurmountable lead coming down the stretch, but Bowens turned on the afterburners and edged out Stritzinger at the finish line as St Mary's finished off a perfect 3-for-3 day in the relay races.

"They told us we had it wrapped up," Bowens said of the AB championship. "But we've been working to get a championship all year, and I wanted to win it with a bang.

That last 100 (meters) was all will. I wanted it more."

If Bowens provided the day's most exciting finish, teammate Ryan Johnson was a close second.

Trailing after the final hand-off in the 4x100 relay, Johnson put all he had into the finish as he beat out a Brother Rice squad that was running at a record pace by a nose.

St. Mary's finished in a Catholic League AB-record 42.74 seconds in the event, while Brother Rice finished with a would-be record of 42.77.

"Last year they nipped us at the end," St. Mary's coach Sean Clouse said. "They called that one a tie, but gave it to them. We wanted it bad today.

"Our kids have worked hard all year. It was a full team effort."

While St. Mary's walked away with its first league title with 112 points, De La Salle went home in second place with 88.5 points, its best finish at the AB championships.

Stritzinger took home the title for De La Salle in the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.27, while De La Salle's Mickey Davey edged out Nathan Mylenek of Pontiac Notre Dame prep by less than three seconds for the 1,600 championship.

Three-time defending AB champion Brother Rice finished in third place with 79.5 points.

Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.

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