COLUMBUS-- Martin Booker has been on the wrong side of close finishes plenty of times.
But the Pennsauken senior has gotten better at closing out races as his high school career has progressed. He displayed that on Saturday at Northern Burlington High School, as he inched out a win in the 4x400 relay for the Indians over Moorestown in the Group 3 competition.
Booker was neck and neck with Moorestown’s Brandon Outlaw, the Group 3 champion in the 400 meters on Friday, but the Pennsauken sprinter used his strengths to his advantage.
“I knew Brandon ran 46 outdoor last week at sectionals so I knew what he was capable of doing,” Booker said. “I was going to have him either in front of me or behind me. I was patient and let him pass me and i was just hanging on behind him and I made my mover at the 100 because the 100 is usually my fastest race. I just waited until the 100 to make my move. I was patient and then I attacked.
“It feels good because my freshman and sophomore year I was the one who was always getting caught. It felt good to finally catch someone on that type of level and it was amazing.”
Pennsauken won the race in 3:18.11, just one hundredth of a second ahead of the Quakers, who won the Central Jersey Group 3 team title a week ago.
The win was the second of the weekend for Booker, who also took home gold in the 200 meters, a race he loves to compete in.
“(Outlaw) pushed me in that too,” Booker said. “The 200 is my gravy right there. The 200 I try to go aggressive so I was aggressive out of the box and went against the curve faster than they did so I can just take off at the 100.”
Booker’s final time was 21.47 seconds, the best run at the venue on Saturday. He defeated Marvin Morgan of Neptune by .29 seconds and Outlaw by .40 seconds.
Booker started his weekend with a second-place finish in the Group 3 100 meters in a time of 10.72 seconds after putting down a 10.67 second time in the trials.
Now the senior, who is off to Hampton University, has one week to prepare for the Meet of Champions on Saturday back at Northern Burlington, a meet in which he hopes to excel.
“I feel good,” Booker said. “I’m doing better than I did last year. I just think Meet of Champions is going to be the end of my high school career and I’m going to go out with a bang.”