Defending state champs Western Albemarle, returns to this year's state meet in a slump and not as the top dog heading into the state meet. Last year, Western Albemarle won the state meet with their distance squad and a shot putter, but the graduation of Jeremy Cadle has hurt the Warriors in the point department this year as they finished 3rd in their region. Their top distance runner, Charlie Hurt sat out their district and region meet due to an injury and all state runner, Phillip Dejong has had a subpar season. If these two runners can bounce back from their problems this indoor season, this team can be hard to beat with Western Albemarle junior Josiah Cadle (Jeremy's younger brother) already running very impressive this year. So far this indoor season, Cadle has ran a 2:39 1000, 4:33 1600, and a 9:55 3200. Cadle will be running the 1000 and 1600 for the Warriors as well running the 4x800 meter relay which should be a good one.
A big reason for Western Albemarle's state title last year was their 4x800 meter relay squad which won the race in a state record time. They will face a tough challenge this year though from Lafayette, Jamestown, and Louisa County.
Lafayette, probably Western's biggest challenger, last week ran a 8:13 4x800 leg as they won the Region I 4x800 race. They have 3 legs on their squad capable of running 2 flat or better in Preston Wall, Scott Tiernan, and Jimmy Kohlman.
The Jamestown 4x800 squad hasn't ran loaded down since last year's outdoor state meet. Their fastest time of the season was their 8:27 they posted at the CNU Showcase where they ran without their fastest leg, 1:58 800 runner Bryce Ruiz.
Louisa County also brings with them a talented 4x800 squad with anchor leg Steve Carlson leading the way. Carlson is one of the premier middle distance runners in the state.
Bobby Lockhart of John Handley will be going for the repeat as 1600 meter and 3200 meter state champ. Lockhart already this season has ran a 4:15 1600 and 9:10 3200.
The boys 1000 meter run should be heavily contested between Rockbridge's John Crews, Stuarts Draft's Evan Kays, Western Albermarle's Josiah Cadle, and Christiansburg's Troy Meyer. Crews, the AA XC runner-up this past fall, will have to get out to a good lead as Kays, Cadle, and Meyer all have blazing kicks.
Contenders for the team titles will be Christiansburg, Appomattox, R.E. Lee, Monticello, John Handley, and Spotsylvania. Spotsylvania looked impressive as they easily won the Region I Meet last weekend as they fed off of major point contributions from jumper Julius Talley and 300/500 runner Matt Echols. Both should be favorites to win their events at the state meet.
John Handley alone can get 20 points off of Lockhart and also should get plenty of points from Sean Chambers who is one of the top hurdlers and sprinters in AA.
Appomattox could be a threat as well with Derrick Harvey in the 300 and 55 hurdles as well as having one of the top pole vaulters in AA with Richard Wingfield.
The winner of this state meet will be the team that can rack up the most points in the sprint and field events with the absence of some of the best jumpers and sprinters in AA due to either being at a school without an indoor squad or doing another sport during the winter sports season.
The Jefferson Forest girls team looks as though it may be able to pull off the state champion trifecta this sports year. This past fall they won the AA state cross country team title, and they've just continued their dominance into the indoor track season. With having one of the best sprinters and jumpers in the state with Ebony Foster as well as one of the top distance runners in Shannon Saunders doesn't hurt.
Foster has the fastest 55 meter dash and 300 meter times in AA and has the best long jump and triple jump marks in AA as well.
No other AA distance runner can touch Saunders's times. Saunders has ran sub 5:20 for the 1600 and sub 11:30 for the 3200 most of the season.
Other teams that will be vying for the places behind Jefferson Forest will be Charlottesville, John Handley, Caroline, Spotsylvania, Blacksburg, and Amherst.
Spotsylania who were runner-ups at their region meet, could do very well with the Nelms twins, Jennifer and Kurstin. Both are very good 300/500 runners as well as jumpers.