Although the Peninsula and Southside high schools were at the crux of their respective spring breaks, many athletes still made the trip to Dick Price Stadium on the campus of Norfolk State University last Saturday for the annual NSU High School Invitational.
As expected, the Western Branch boys and girls swept the team titles. The girls, as befits their style, lapped the field, scoring 137.5 points, topping runner-up I.C. Norcom (57.5) by 80. The boys had a tougher go of things, netting 99 points to beat second place Phoebus, who scored 71.
In spite of the shared vacation mode felt by many of the athletes, there was no shortage of effort or accomplishment under the blue skies that blanketed Norfolk.
On the girls' side, Western Branch relied on their seemingly unending depth, winning all three relays. The 4x100 torched the competition in 47.45, while the 4x400 (4:08.44) and 4x800 (10:07.04) also won gold medals. Jada Terrell won the 300-meter hurdles with a swift mid-season time of 44.74 and Zoie Shenton captured the shot-put with a 101-foot toss.
Amari Jackson of Wilson was the lone double winner among the girls. Jackson won both the long (18-3) and triple (35-1.5) jumps. Menchville's December Hutchinson didn't win both of her races, but completed a tough double, winning the 400-meter hurdles (1:06.37), and placing third in the 300-meter hurdles (45.98).
Freshman Maeve Stiles of Maury won the girls' 1600 meters handily with a time of 5:22.48. Her teammate Maya Seay sped through the 100-meter hurdles in 14.31, helping Maury to a fifth place team finish with 47 points.
Norcom's Channelle Hodges blitzed to a 56.66 clocking in the 400 meters, helping the Greyhounds to their second place team finish.
Tamara Washington (3200) and Kiara Cherry (high jump) won for Churchland, propelling the Lady Truckers to a third place team finish, while First Colonial placed fourth, behind the gold medal efforts of their winning sprint medley relay (4:37.14).
Autumn White of Jefferson Forest won the pole vault in 11-6.
For the boys, Micaiah Harris had the key performance of the day for the Branch Bruins, winning the 300-meter hurdles in 37.89. The boys 4x100 sped through the finish in 42.08 to win by 2.33 seconds, while the 4x800 ran a more pedestrian winning time of 8:29.07. Hurdler Kavante Dawson won the 110-meter high hurdles in 14.30 for Coach Claude Toukene's squad.
Phoebus was led by a 1-2 finish in the 200 meters, as Douglas Sessoms (22.03) and Damion Charity (22.14) held down the first two spots for the Phantoms. Da'Jion Hilliard won the 400-meter hurdles in 57.99.
Mason McClendon and Trey Delong won their events to lead First Colonial to a third place team finish. McClendon, a sophomore, won the 800 (1:58.29), while Delong captured the pole vault with a leap of 13 feet.
Bethel won three relays to spark its fourth place finish. The boys 4x400 team that won the 5A state championship for the Bruins on the meet's final event, also placed first on Saturday as Byron Carson, Ilkeem Ellis, Travis Williams and Edward Richardson III won in 3:21.58. The shuttle hurdle and sprint medley relays also took first place.
Landstown's Hasani Knight was the boys' only double winner, taking home the triple jump (46-9) and 100-meter (10.56) crowns.
Peninsula Catholic's Andrew Via won the 1600 by 14 seconds with a winning time of 4:25.71, while Cape Henry's Owen Richards took the 3200 in 9:57.02.
In the throwing events, Xavier Ivey of Hermitage threw the shot 53 feet and three inches for first place, while Teyjuan Russell of Deep Creek won the discus with a throw of 144-2.5.