There was some uncertainty as to whether or not Albemarle might load up their talented 4x800 meter relay as they might spread their athletes around in various events to put them in better position to go after a team title, but a group like this does not come around often and they decided on making history on Friday night instead with their "A" team. After Garrett Bradley put the Patriots in the lead with a 1:58.4 opener, the Albemarle boys showed no mercy as each successive leg poured it on despite having no teams close with Zachary Vrhovac at 1:54.5, Luke Noble at 1:57.9, and Anthony Kostelac on anchorg at 1:53.6.
Their new US #1 time of 7:44.70 not only broke the state meet record of 7:48.63 held by Westfield from 2004, but also set a new state indoor record (regardless if in state meet or not) as the 1998 West Springfield 4x800 previously held that honor at 7:45.78. The Albemarle boys were actually gunning for the indoor national record of 7:42.22 (Syossett NY - 2005). They will get another opportunity at the record with more competition at the indoor nationals in March.
US Top 5 All-Time
4 x 800
#1 7:42.22 Syosset, NY 2005
#2 7:42.67 York, Elmhurst, Il 2000
#3 7:42.84 Shaker, Latham, NY 2005
#4 7:44.6+ Catholic, Roselle, NJ 1969
#5 7:44.70 Albemarle VA 2009
Their 4x800 meter relay meet record performance and personal best mark of 48'3.75" from Jordan Hill to take runner-up in the triple jump give Albemarle plenty of momentum heading into Saturday, but Western Branch was right with them on Friday to negate any attempt of separation by the Northwest Region champs.
Western Branch only lost two points to Albemarle in the 4x800 meter relay since their own relay stepped up with a runner-up finish of 8:01.31. Despite Hill's surprising finish ahead of Western Branch's top jumper Jeffrey Artis in the triple jump, Artis was in third (48'0.75") and teammates Marcus Dean (5th, 45'1.50") and Kendrick Smith (6th, 45'0.25") came through to place higher than expected to give Western Branch a total of 13 points in the event compared to Albemarle's 8 from Hill's runner-up mark. Western Branch leads after the first day of events with 21 points and Albemarle is second with 18 points.
Despite the significance of the triple jump in regards to the team standings, the event belonged to George Washington senior David Wilson who finally got the 50 plus footer in the triple jump that he has spent a year reaching for you. The defending AAA state champion extended his US lead in the the triple jump on his first attempt with a mark of 50'1", which ranks him #6 all-time in Virginia high school history.
It has been over 20 years since the state of Virginia has seen anyone over 50 feet in the triple jump indoors when current US high school national record holder Keith Holley of Bayside (52'7.75") and Larry Moore of Kempsville both dazzled track fans in the same year in 1988 with several 50 plus performances including a 52'7.50".
Wilson kept his legs fresh for other events as he passed on all of his attempts for one in the finals in which he still leaped a great 49'6" mark. Wilson will be headed to Virginia Tech next year to play football, but intends to continue to compete in track at the next level as well.
Other highlights from day one included an outstanding girls' high jump competition with two athletes, Tynita Butts of T.C. Williams and Pearl Bickersteth of Potomac, tying the state meet record with clearances of 5'9". Butts "cleared" 5'10" on two occassions, but the bar fell moments later after each attempt. Both jumpers move themselves to #4 on the Virginia indoor all-time list, but Butts certainly has to be anxious to get another chance at the high jump in the national meet with a 5'9" clearance well over the bar and two heartbreakers at 5'10".
The girls 4x800 meter relay shaped up to be a two way battle between Ocean Lakes and Lake Braddock as expected. After a 2:16 third leg by state cross country champion Stacey Nobles brought them from way behind into first, all anchor leg Natalia Kuhn had to do was hold off Northern Region cross country and track champion Liana Epstein with less than a second advantage. Kuhn was aggressive in the first 400 meters to gap Epstein, but Epstein reeled her in to come up on her with a lap to go. Kuhn responded and found another gear to finish with a 2:14 split as the Ocean Lakes girls became only the second 4x800 indoor state champions from the Eastern Region in a 9:21.00 win with Lake Braddock in a close second at 9:21.92. Both teams ran season best times which rank #6 and #7 in the nation as well as #10 and #11 all-time in Virginia high school indoor history.
Despite being the defending indoor state champion and having jumped well at the Central Region Meet in the Ashe Center, J.R. Tucker senior Jasia Richardson was not considered the favorite in the triple jump. After all, Richardson had never leaped over 40 feet before and the event featured two girls who had done so this season in Grassfield's Karimah Shepherd and Great Bridge's Shakeela Saunders. Shepherd had leaped over 40 feet on several occassions this year at the Boo Williams facility and is the US leader with a season best of 41'2.50". Meanwhile, Saunders won the Eastern Region Championships last week with US freshmen national record leap of 40'2.50".
Well Richardson finally joined the 40 foot club on Friday at the state meet and denied both Shepherd and Saunders from joining her club as a state champion once again of 40'2.25". She went over 40 feet twice actually and Shepherd had to settle for state runner-up despite going over 40 feet once again at 40 feet even.
2009 has been a very special year so far for the girls triple jump with three having gone over 40 feet indoors. The only year prior which can boast so many girls jumping this far is in 1998 when three girls from the Northern Region (Yolanda Thompson - West Potomac, Naccole Guinn - Thomas Jefferson, Ayanna Patterson - McLean) and Aprelle Wilson of Salem all went over 40 feet during the course of the indoor season.
Almost none of the top girls in the shot put threw over their season best marks as Latona Jackson of T.C. Willams was the first finisher to exceed her seed mark coming out of the lower flight to place seventh, but the Williams household can boast two All-State throwers with Jaleesa Williams of First Colonial winning her first state title with a mark of 40'6" and sister Jessica Williams of Landstown taking fifth place (37'3").
The girls were rolling in the prelims of the 55 meter dash as Nansemond River's Tanay Chandler caught many by surprise from the first heat with her 7.01 personal best clocking to shave considerable time off her season best of 7.16. Defending 55 state champion Marlena Wesh of Landstown had the second fastest time of the prelims in 7.05, while three others ran times faster than Wesh's 7.11 win in last year's 55 meter dash finals.
The boys were not playing around either with a round to go as Nansemond River senior James Taylor (6.33) and Bethel senior Earl House (6.34) both clocked personal best times in winning their heats.
Western Branch's Jeffrey Artis has been the ultimate team player and Mr. Versatile for Western Branch with his ability to handle competing in numerous events and placing high in all, but he may have set himself up to finally enjoy some individual glory for the first time after running a personal best clocking of 7.33 in the prelims of the 55 meter hurdles. It should be a great finals race though between Artis and second fastest qualifier Vincent Brown of South Lakes (7.41) who went 7.30 last weekend in his regional meet. The time posted by Artis in the prelims ranks #12 all-time in state indoor history.
The Eastern Region girls showed their dominance in the hurdle races with seven of the top nine qualifiers including the top six overall. Landstown's Taylor Wheaton did not compete in her district or regional meet, but appeared to show no signs of race rust by clocking a personal best time of 8.10, which was significantly faster than her top competition in Chantal Luedeke of Deep Creek (8.23) and Courtni Pannell of Bethel (8.24).
The girls' pole vault was just beginning late as most of the crowd had departed for the night, so these results will come along with Saturday's events. The event started later than expected because the boys were vaulting so well as six went over 14 feet with Allen Kelly of King's Fork adding an indoor title to his outdoor title from last spring with a clearance of 15'3" to withstand a challenge from past outdoor champion Matthew Armentrout of Deep Run (2nd, 15'0").
More to come from day 1 one later including photos, videos, and interviews.