The boys' team title will be a difficult challenge for anyone to have a shot at obtaining with defending champion Deep Creek looking stronger than ever after a dominating Eastern Region Meet victory. Like last year, Deep Creek once again returns with the top sprint relays in the state as their 4x200 (1:29.51) and 4x400 (3:23.99) meter relays have been untouchable this winter by any state competition. Included on those two relays are two star individuals in Derron Flood and John Hyman. Flood, comes into the meet with the nation's leading time at 500 meters with a 1:04.16 clocking. Hyman is also a top seed with his state leading time of 35.21 puts him as the favorite in the 300 meter dash. Hyman and Flood's efforts alone could help give Deep Creek 40 points and possibly the state title. Beyond Hyman and Flood, Deep Creek still has some individuals who have serious scoring potential with Antwain Carey, the Eastern Region 55 meter dash champion, seeded fifth in the event at 6.40 and Desmond Perkins, the regional champ at 1000 meters, figures to be in the mix of runners fighting it out in a race that looks to be one for second behind the undeniable favorite, Alex Tatu of Thomas Dale.
If something were to go amiss for Deep Creek this Saturday though such as an injury or race disqualification, it could leave the window of opportunity for other teams vying for those top three spots to sneak in there.
One obvious team that can score some serious points is Tatu's squad at Thomas Dale because clearly Tatu is expected to come away with victories in the 1600 and 1000 meter races. In each race, the University of Virginia bound Tatu has the top seed with some breathing room. In the 1600 meter, Tatu comes in with the nation's 10th fastest time at 4:14.17 and in the 1000, he's even stronger with a time of 2:30.09, which ranks him second currently in the entire country. However, Tatu cannot do it all by himself and will need Central Region 55 meter dash champion Dennis Boone to step it up and get some points in the event as well as in the long jump where the sophomore is seeded third in at 22-7.50.
Northern Region champions Lake Braddock could also mount a sizable total of points on Saturday with Craig Gallimore leading the way for the Bruins as he is the top seed at a state best time of 7.41. While Steve Hoogland in the 3200 meter run as the fourth seed at 9:32.41 is their only other viable individual scoring threat outside of Gallimore, Lake Braddock does bring with them to George Mason a strong arsenal in the relay department as both their 4x800 (8:05.03) and 4x400 (3:24.73) meter relays come in with the third fastest seed times in each event.
Two other regional champions, Atlee out of the Central Region and Gar-Field out of the Northwest Region could both put together decent showings. For Atlee, Anthony Easter looks to carry the squad as he is one of the top 500 meter runners in the state as he is the fifth seed at 1:06.17 and is also the vital anchor leg on the Raiders' 4x200 (1:31.62) and 4x400 meter relays (3:27.87). Gar-Field is in the same boat as Atlee in relying on one individual's performance in their speciality as well as pulling through for their relays as senior Darren Garrigan figures to pick up points in the long jump (22-3.75) and 55 meter dash (6.44) as the sixth seed in both. Gar-Field's 4x200 (1:31.44) and 4x400 (3:30.45) should also fair well with Garrigan a member on each.
Much like regional runner-up Thomas Dale prospects are looking better than other regional champion teams in the state team title hunt, as is the same case with Northern Region runner-up Westfield. Westfield has a well balanced team with viable point scorers in all areas of events. In the long jump, senior Brandon Dobbs could pick up a few points in the long jump (22-1.50) as the seventh seed. Northern Region 55 meter dash champion John Schenck is expected to be in the mix for the sprint event at states. In the distance crew, James Scheiner in the 1600 (4:30.84) meter run and Bryan Buckland in the 3200 (9:42.51) meter run could pick up a few points for the squad. However, the relays will be certainly the strongest point getters for Westfield with their 4x800 meter relay (8:08.48) seeded sixth and their 4x400 meter relay (3:24.52) expected to possibly give Deep Creek's top relay a run for their money.
Great Bridge may finish high in the team scoring simply from two events with the pole vault and shot put. In the pole vault, Great Bridge has the two top seeds in senior Brian Webb (14-6) and junior Daniel Brennan (14-0) as well as the sixth seed Daniel Magness, to complete a strong possible point scoring trio. The squad also has three of the top six seeds in the shot put with senior James Nixon (58-00.75), freshme Joseph Jones (52-10.75), and senior Solomon Revils (51-11.25).
The girls' team title is more wide open with no clear favorite like Deep Creek on the boys' side. What is clear though is that the team title will be fightfest with many of the same teams that fought over the Eastern Region title a few weeks ago such as Deep Creek, Menchville, Salem, Western Branch, and Bethel.
While Deep Creek girls were the team that came out of that meet with the win, this weekend will be much harder for them to come out atop again over that group since they really have no true star to carry them. They will be hoping the "nickel and dime" method will pay off this weekend as while they do not have any individual or relay in state title contention but do have more than a handful of those who can score respectable amount of points that will add up. All coming as the sixth seeds in their events for Deep Creek are Chante Sessoms in the long jump (17-8), Courtney Edmonds in the shot put (39-5.25), Jonda Snowden in the 55 meter dash (7.24), and the 4x400 meter relay (4:05.99). The squad's strong point scorers look to be Brandi Kellam in the 500 meter dash (1:18.02) and their 4x200 meter relay (1:45.82) as both enter with the third fastest times.
If one individual can win this year's state meet, that individual is Menchville senior Yvette Lewis as she is set to compete in five individuals event. Lewis, ranked in the top four in the nation in both the long jump (19-4.50) and triple jump (41-4) is the obvious favorite in both events. In her three other events, while not the top seed in any of three, she is fully capable of winning each event as she is the second seed in both the 55 meter dash (7.71) and hurdle (8.19) races and in the high jump, is only a meager inch below the top seeds. The shear versality of Lewis is making Menchville appear as the team to beat this weekend as Lewis will also get some teammate support. She will not be lonely in the hurdles as teammates Jelyn Quick (third seed, 8.28) and Victoria Faulkner (eight seed, 8.54) both figure to score points in the event as well.
Last year's outdoor state champions, Western Branch, has a strong nucleus with the likes of Tosin Oluwole, Leslie Treherne, and Marquita Allen. Treherne was expected to do battle in the 500 meter dash with fellow sub 1:15 runner Faraign Giles of Tallwood, but Giles was not entered in the event as it now leaves Treherne who comes in with the nation's third fastest time at 1:14.37 as the heavy favorite. Oluwole, the state outdoor champion at 100 meters, is the favorite to win the 55 meter dash after winning the Eastern Region Meet against some of the state's best and enters with the top seed time at 7.10. Allen, an all-state 400 meter runner last outdoor, will be expected to come through at the state stage again for the Bruins this weekend as she is the third seed in the 300 meter dash (40.97). The threesome are also part of Western Branch's two solid relay teams as their 4x200 (1:42.38) and 4x400 (3:58.90) are both ranked second behind Bethel in each event.
Speaking of Bethel, those two relays in their 4x200 (1:41.48) and 4x400 (3:57.49) will definitely be key to putting the Lady Bruins in position to finish high in the team scorings. A handful of individuals will also try add additional points to the team total. Senior Lavonne Idlette is expected to score in both the long jump (fourth seed, 38-0.50) and 55 meter hurdles (fifth, 8.39) for Bethel as she is a high seed in both. Junior Charrise Bullock will try to stay to close to Treherne in the 500 meter run as she comes in with the second fastest time at 1:18.02. Bethel could very well take the first two places in the 300 meter dash with freshmen Francena McCorory (40.02) and junior Britni Spruill (40.14) as the top two seeds in the event.
Salem could challenge their regional foes and others for the title if Salem senior Amy Seward returns to her old form is able to take down Menchville's Lewis in the long jump and triple jump as Seward is seeded right behind Lewis in both with season best marks of 18-5 in the long jump and 40-5 in the triple jump to show for herself. She also comes in tied for the top seed in the high jump at 5-6. With strong performances out of their 4x200 (1:46.01) and 4x800 (9:48.85), they could be in the mix.
While at the regional level, Hickory was not much a threat teamwise, on the state level, it is a different story. They have two individuals in Jennifer Boyd and Jessica Clendenning who can give them close to 30 points by themselves. Boyd will be looking to come away with two state titles on Friday in both the 1600 and 3200 meter run. At her regional meet, Boyd pulled off an amazing double as posted times of 4:54.84 in the 1600 meter run and 10:49.40 in the 3200 meter run as both of which were personal bests and sit her comfortably as the top seed in both events. Clendenning has been up there with the pole vaulters in the state and has held the state best in the event on a few occassions and enters the meet as the third seed at 11-0 and figures to have a shot at winning the event.
While the Eastern Region clearly seems to have the superior teams this season with the previously mentioned squads all in the thick of things for the state title this weekend, that is not to say the other regions will not be represented with some quality teams that could make some noise and surprise this Saturday.
Lake Braddock, the Northern Region champs, are much like the Deep Creek girls in that they relied on their depth and not on just a few individual stars to their regional victory and will find points harder to come by this weekend as the competition level rises. Sophomore Ashley Haislip has an excellent shot at coming away with a state title in the high jump as her season best of 5-6 puts her at the top in the seeding with three others. Fellow Lady Bruin field event star Catherine Muehleib will also be expected to score major points in the shot put with the second season best throw of the field at 41-4. Lake Braddock senior pole vaulters Cristina Zuniga (fifth seed, 10-6) and Abbey McGrath (6th, 10-0) could add crucial points to the team's cause. The Lady Bruins also are hoping for their 4x800 (9:41.82) and 4x200 (1:46.09) to step it up a notch, if they expect to challenge some of the Eastern Region powerhouses.
Gar-Field may be the team with the best shot at breaking up a sweep of the Eastern Region schools in the trophy awarding places as the Northwest Region champs are led by Afua Amponsah and Tiffany Evans. Amponsah had one of the finest performances out of any individual this season at the Northwest Region meet where she took wins in the 55 meter dash, 55 meter hurdles, and 300 meter dash. Amponsah will try her luck again in those three events this weekend at George Mason. The senior transfer from Annandale will be the favorite in the 55 meter hurdles with recent 7.99 clocking without spikes at the regional meet. Amponsah will also be expected to contribute major points in the 55 (fourth seed, 7.22) and 300 (sixth seed, 41.64) meter dashes. Evans is expected to come away with the win in the shot put as she has gone undefeated throughout the season as her season best of 45-3 puts her nearly a good four feet ahead of the nearest competitior.
As for some exciting individual races and events, there will be plenty of them for spectators to witness this Saturday.
The boys horizontal jumps seem to be up for grabs as their has been no clear dominant jumper over the rest in either the long jump and triple jump this season. However, Reynold Smith in the long jump (23-1) and John Bailey in the triple jump (47-3.5) do come in with the top seeds. Bailey (22-8.50) and Thomas Dale's Boone (22-7.50) figure to be Smith's biggest challengers in the long jump, while Bailey while have his hands full with the likes of Eastern Region champion Brandon Mise of Bethel (46-9), Alton Hewlett of Meadowbrook (46-4.25), Smith (46-1.50), and Nick Crumpton of Langley (45-10).
The boys' shot put clearly does not appear to be up for grabs as Steve Huntzinger of James Robinson, the top shot putter in the entire nation, is an overwhelming favorite with his season best of 63-7. First Colonial senior Khalif Mitchell has been having an exceptional season though as he is second behind Huntzinger at 59-3.25 to give the James Robinson senior at least some competition.
Colonial Forge junior Jerome Miller, a recent out-of-state transfer, is favored to win the high jump as he comes in with a season best mark of 6-9, which is three inches better than the next competitor.
In the boys' 4x800 meter relay, Midlothian enters with the nation's third fastest time at 7:53.77 and is over ten seconds ahead of the second seed, West Springfield (8:04.44). However, the race is expected to be much closer than that as Midlothian will be running with 1:57 anchor leg Robert Gielow who will sit out due to a hip flexor injury. Lake Braddock is coming off a strong performance at their regional meet where they defeated a Jeff Day-less West Springfield team in a time of 8:05.03. Colonial Forge is the sleeper though that everyone should be aware of as last year they surprised everyone with a runner-up finish. The Eagles possess the top 800 meter leg out of any team in 1:54 800 meter runner Sean Leyh.
The boys' 55 meter hurdles appear it will be a two man showdown between top seed Craig Gallimore of Lake Braddock (7.41) and Central Region champion Terry Thornton of Petersburg. A photo finish between the two could be expected.
Potomac Senior's Joe Robinson, the nation's best in 55 meter dash (6.26) currently, will look to sprint away from the competition as his top challengers appear to be Eastern Region champ Antwain Carey of Deep Creek (6.40), Eastern Region runner-up Isaac Madison (6.38), and Northern Region champ John Schenck of Westfield (6.42).
The Deep Creek boys' 4x200 meter relay which consists of the likes of sprinting stars such as Derron Flood, John Hyman, and Antwain Carey, will look to break the state meet record that they set last year (1:29.70) as they have already ran under that time this season with a 1:29.51 clocking.
Alex Tatu is the clear favorite to win both the 1600 and 1000 meter races. The question is will anybody be willing to make him work for the win? In the 1600, a few could possibly keep him on his toes as Wakefield's Peter Quinzio has had aa sensational season of racing as he comes in ranked behind Tatu at 4:16.84. Derrick Robbins, a sub 4:20 miler as a freshmen last year, will be looking to dip back under that mark again and will not be afraid to race with Tatu.
Deep Creek senior Derron Flood is an intimidating force to be reckon with and few have been able to stop him in his tracks as he comes into the meet with the nation's fastest 500 meter dash time at 1:04.16. Flood will be looking to make his name as one of the all-time best 500 meter runners in Virginia history when he steps on the track Saturday and tries to make a go at the state record of 1:03.01. The 500 meter race will feature a very talented field which consists of the likes of Timothy Nunn of T.C. Williams (1:05.73), Northern Region champ Steve Gillard of Herndon (1:06.05), and Central Region champ Anthony Easter of Atlee (1:06.17).
The boys' 1000 meter run will probably be one of the most exciting races to watch on the day. Nearly all of the top competitors will have either raced the 4x800 meter relay or 1600 meter run the hour before and it will be gut check time to see who can fight the fatigue. Tatu is the top seed once again with the nation's second fastest time at 2:30.09. Despite his placing on the national level, it will be no cakewalk for him at the state level. Colonial Forge's Sean Leyh is the second seed at 2:33.04 and has ran 1:55 in the open 800 before. Midlothian 4x800 meter relay members Andrew Baker (2:33.12) and Taylor Matthews (2:33.34) also will be in the mix. West Springfield's John Cook (2:34.60) and Denbigh's Derrick Robbins (2:34.71) will also be doubling up with the 1000 from earlier events, while the likes of Douglas Freeman's Duncan Vick (2:33.86) and Eastern Region champ Desmond Perkins of Deep Creek (2:34.66) will be fresh to race.
The boys' 3200 meter race looks to be a three way race between Eastern Region champion Steven Walters (9:22.24) and the Thomas Jefferson duo of Keith Bechtol (9:28.74) and Christo Landry (9:29.02). An important tidbit is the fact that Landry was injured earlier in the season and continues to race his way back into shape as the season progresses and has been getting progressively better each week, so we might see Landry venture back down into the 9:10's he once was at last spring.
The boys' 4x400 meter relay looks to be a dogfight to close out the day as Deep Creek comes in as the favorite at 3:23.94, but have Westfield (3:24.52), Lake Braddock (3:24.73), and Atlee (3:26.34) clipping at their heels.
A familar rivalry will be revisited again when Menchville's Yvette Lewis and Salem's Amy Seward duke it out for supremacy in the girls' long jump and triple jump as Lewis is the top seed in both with Seward right behind her.
Prince George senior Rhian Jenks set herself apart from other pole vaulters in the state last weekend at the Central Region Meet as she captured the title by reaching a new personal best height of 12 feet, which currently ranks her nearly a full foot ahead in the state rankings. Jenks will have no room for error though as Northern Region champ Kathryn Pettine of Westfield (11-1) and Eastern Region champ Jessica Clendenning of Hickory (11-0) will just as soon seize the opportunity to take advantage.
The Kellam girls' 4x800 meter relay team has been the most dominant relay out of any relay squad in the state all season as they have won convincingly wherever they have ran. They hope to continue that same large margin of victory this weekend as the top seed Lady Knights (9:30.39) will face challengers from a strong group of Northern Region squads with Herndon (9:37.67), Oakton (9:37.79), and West Springfield's (9:38.39). It will be a tough task for anyone to defeat Kellam especially with sub 3 1000 meter run Natalie Sherbak as their anchor. The only possible runner in the field that could run with Sherbak is West Springfield's Huma Husain, but the big question will be if West Springfield's first three legs can maintain enough contact to give Husain a chance to go after Sherbak.
The 4x200 meter relay figures to be a two way battle between Eastern Region foes Bethel (1:41.48) and Western Branch (1:42.38) as both relays consist of some star studded legs.
While Jennifer Boyd figures to runaway with the girls' 1600 meter run, the race for second could be interesting with a few that will surely be vying for runner-up honors. Out of the Eastern Region, Selina Sekulic of Ocean Lakes (5:06.45) and Kelley Taylor of Kellam (5:06.52) will be in the mix with Northwest Region champ Jemissa Hess of C.D. Hylton (5:09.14), Northern Region champ Shauneen Garrahan of Thomas Jefferson (5:11.64), Northern Region runner-up Joanna Rodgers of Robinson (5:12.74) and Central Region champ Amanda Patterson of Midlothian (5:14.37) in what looks to be a stacked field behind Boyd.
Western Branch's Leslie Treherne just missed out on a state last spring as she was narrowly defeated by Dacia Barr in the 800 meter run. She will hope to not make it so close this year as she is the top seed in the 500 meter dash by almost a full four seconds at 1:14.37.
Pending on how the finish ends up in the 4x800 meter relay, the girls' 1000 meter race could be the second showdown of the day between West Springfield's Huma Husain (2:58.74) and Kellam's Natalie Sherbak (2:58.81).
The girls' 300 meter dash appears to up for grabs between around five individuals in the Bethel pair of Francena McCorory (40.02) and Britni Spruil (40.14), Western Branch's Marquita Allen (40.97), and Northwest Region foes Kharya Brown (41.24) of Potomac and Afua Amponsah (41.64) of Gar-Field.
Another exciting race for second behind Boyd looks possible in the 3200 meter run as regional champions Beth Fahey of Forest Park (11:08.81), Thomas Jefferson's Garrahan (11:20.24), and Maggie Walker's Ritchie Vaughan (11:22.76) have all been running very solid as of late.
The girls' 4x400 meter relay appears to be a rerun of what the 4x200 looks to be in a battle between Bethel (3:57.79) and Western Branch (3:58.90).