LOUISA, VA -- Cross Country Road may lead you into Louisa County High School from Interstate 64, but on Friday evening at the Region II Meet, it became Track Town as athletes and teams gathered to compete from Group AA's largest and argubably most competitive region. The meet featured the state's best discus thrower in Park View sophomore Natalie Baird as she benefited from tailwind and slight downhill to rip a US #7 mark of 157-7 to break her own meet record by more than 20 feet. The defending Group AA state champion in the event, broke her year old record on her first attempt and continued to improve upon on it on virtually all of her following attempts including the 157-7 final attempt. The John Handley boys and Heritage of Leesburg girls took the regional team crowns as the Handley boys were convincing winners,w hile Heritage girls were able to come out ontop in a traffic jam finish.
If the John Handley boys can put up a similar performance at next weekend's Group AA State Meet, they could very well come out as state team champions as well after their showing in Louisa.
Handley was led by Charles Washington who posted some of the fastest times in meet history in the 100 and 200 meter dash with 10.85 and 21.87 clockings respectively. Washington was also featured on the 4x400 meter relay as the Christopher Newport University bound senior anchored home the win in a time of 3:25.77.
William & Mary bound senior Alex Ball also contributed considerable points to the Judges' team cause in the throws as he won the discus with a personal best throw of 167-10, while finishing second in the shot put (50-4.50) to Liberty's Bryan Roof, who had a monster throw of 55-1 to win.
Donn Booker finished second in the 400 meter dash for John Handley with a time of 49.96 as Orange's Josh Oehmke took the regional title in the event in a close finish at 49.63.
John Handley had another regional runner-up in Erin McWhorter in the 800 meter run with his time of 1:59.31. Fort Defiance senior Derek Hizer won the two lap event with a time of 1:59.08.
Hizer was doubling back from the 4x800 meter relay where he ran as anchor leg for the Indians as did McWhorter for Handley. Hizer must have been riding high heading into the open 800 meter event as he brought home Fort Defiance's first sub eight minute clocking of the season in 7:58.69. After having several near misses at breaking the time barrier, the team of Alex Ott, Matt Bailey, Daniel Alonso, and Hizer finally dipped under eight at Louisa and will be looking to take down the state meet record next week.
Fort Defiance used its strength in the distance races to finish second in the team standings with 43 points as Bailey and Ott gave the Indians two top three finishes in the 1600 meter run. Brentsville's Nick Gehlsen did the majority of the pacework in the race, but Bailey's finishing kick proved to be too much in the end as crossed the line first in 4:28.56. Gehlsen held on for second in 4:29.99, while Ott posted an excellent for a freshmen at 4:31.88 for third.
Gehlsen was not willing to let the same result occur in the 3200 meter run as once again he led the majority of the race only to see Spotswood's Bobby Heitz run him down on the final lap. However, Gehlsen responded with a kick of his own on the final curve and pushed his away down the homestretch for a 9:43.69 win. Harrisonburg's Bryant Clopper snuck into the second position at 9:44.86 with Heitz in third at 9:45.56.
Orange County finished third as a team with 41 points as Oehmke's win the 400 meter dash and Carl Johnson's regional title in the 300 meter hurdles with a 39.56 helped put their squad in position for a high finish.
Western Albemarle senior Abdullah Dosu cleared six feet and five inches in the high jump as did Broad Run's Jeff Edwards, but it was Dosu who took the regional title in the event off the tiebreaker.
Southern Track champion Tim Beierle looks ready to take the AA state crown next week in the pole vault after clearing 14-6 for the win at the Region II Meet.
Two of AA's better jumpers went at it in the long jump with Liberty's Matthias Meyer (22-10) walking away the winner over Charlottesville's Shakai Saunders (22-8).
Despite not having an indoor season, Les Bradley and his female counterparts at Heritage High School seem to show no effects of being rusty this spring. Bradley posted the state's second fastest time in the 110 meter hurdles and fastest in Group AA with a 14.16 clocking at the Region II Meet, while the Heritage girls claimed the regional team title on the final event of the meet.
Heading into the girls 4x400 meter relay, several teams had shots at winning the state title and the final race saw little separation between the teams vying for the title on the final leg.
A handful of teams found themselves bunched together as their anchor legs rolled off the final curve into the homestretch. While the Fort Defiane girls took the win in the relay race with a time of 4:04.29, it was Heritage finishing third in a time of 4:04.56 who were the real winners as their six points earned them the regional title by a mere one point margin over Western Albemarle, who happened to finish one place, two points, and 27 hundredths of a seond behind Heritage in the final race.
The Heritage girls, a fairly new school, achieved the regional crown with only one regional champion in Jazlynn Finney in the long jump at a mark of 17-10.50. Finney also finished second in the 200 meter dash (25.84), while their 4x100 meter relay also had a high placing in second at a time of 49.83.
Western Albemarle was led by their familar formula of distance and Ashley Early. Early broke her own meet record in the pole vault with a sucessful clearance of 12-6 as her old mark stood at 11-8. The Lady Warriors also scored ten points in the 4x800 meter relay with their winning time of 9:47.15. Western senior Samantha Stafford had the next best finish for them with a second place run for 3200 meters (11:36.77) and Ailen Keough was also a regional runner-up in the 400 meter dash with 59.88 clocking.
Louisa County almost pulled off the team championship for the home crowd as they finished third with 40 points. Tanisha Jenkins led the Lady Lions as a regional champion in the triple jump (36-2), finishing second in the 100 meter hurdles (15.05), and being a member of the winning 4x100 meter relay (49.30).
The hurdles in Region II belonged to John Handley's Ayla Smith as she was not far off from setting two meet reords in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles with her regional championship times of 14.89 and 44.71. Six hundredths of a second in the 100 meter hurdles and five hundredths of a second in the 300 meter hurdles separated her from a record breaking day. The 300 meter hurdle meet record of 44.66, actually already belongs to Smith from the 2005 meet.
Easy to forget the rest of the Region II throwers with the focus on Baird's amazing performance in the discus, but the meet showed that Region II might have the deepest region in the state regardless of classification in the girls throws. In the discus throw for instance, three other throwers joined Baird in throwing over 120 feet with Liberty's Carly Morse (2nd, 130-8), Warren County's Chevon Parker (3rd, 124-6), and Fluvanna's Roshell Hill (4th, 120-7). More depth was shown in the shot put with Baird actually finishing fourth with a mark of 38-7. As Morse bumped herself up one spot from the discus throw competition with a winning throw of 42-4. Fort Defiance's Miranda Wolfe (2nd, 40-7) and Robert E. Lee's Kristen Crawford (3rd, 39-6) also had top three finishes in the event.
Ayla Smith was not the only double winner on the track as Dominion sophomore Jennifer Weatherly and Millbrook junior Jillian Pollock also won two regional titles each.
Weatherly had a dominating showing in the sprints as she won the 100 meter dash in 12.53, while coming back to finish first in the 200 meter dash with a 25.40 clocking.
Meanwhile, Pollack pulled off a tough distance double victory in Group AA's toughest region in in the distance races. Pollack kicked off her meet with a 5:06.58 win in the 1600 meter victory. The Millbrook junio followed that performance up with another regional championship in 2:18.85.
Regional runner-up to Pollack in the 1600 meter run with a time of 5:09.52, Broad Run's Stephanie Garcia had quite a double herself as she ran away from the field in the 3200 meter run to win in a time of 11:19.02.
Brentsville's Danyelle Kent-Robinson was the lone freshmen to win a regional title as she won on a tiebreaker among three other competitors in the high jump at a height of 5-2.
Sherando junior Latsha Watson won the 400 meter dash with a swift time of 58.54, while finishing second in the 200 meter dash to Dominion's Weatherly in a time of 25.54.