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NEWPORT NEWS, VA -- At least the 2006 AAA State Meet did not encounter its usual 100 degree humid summer days in year's past as on and off rainfall and an overcast helped cool things off, but only heated up the competition and times. The Landstown track team won its second consecutive title, but it was the girls instead of the boys that won this year as they also tied like the boys with the Deep Creek girls, who also emerged out of the shadows of their boys' program with a state championship title. The Landstown girls won the final event of the day in the 4x400 meter relay to tie Deep Creek, who had a 1-2 finish in the high jump from Ashley Gatling and Jonee Artis to jump start them. Meanwhile, Charles Clark and company put on a show on Saturday as Bayside won the boys' team title. Clark won the 100, 200, and 400 meter dashes, while teammate Oliver Alexander finished state runner-up to Clark in both. Great Bridge boys fell short of a second state title as Mike Morrison won two events in the pole vault and 300 meter hurdles (after a disqualification by original winner Corey Vinston of Phoebus). Complete meet summary with plenty of photo and video coverage from John Herzog and Brandon Miles on the way!
Charles Clark became only the fourth athlete ever to sweep the sprint events at the state meet as he rolled to dominating victories in the 100, 200, and 400 meter dashes. Clark nearly broke the meet record in the 100 meter dash held by the last athlete to achieve the three peat in Lashawn Merritt as his winning time of 10.51 finished right off of Merrit's 2004 time of 10.47. Clark picked up his second state title of the meet in the 400 meter dash during the heaviest point of rainfall in the meet as a downpour greeted the athletes in the fast section of the boys' 400 meter dash. Clark was not to be deterred by the conditions as he pulled away from defending state champion Quentin Moore of Deep Creek for a 47.21 state best time. Clark completed the trifecta with a 21.47 clocking in the 200 meter dash.
While the Bayside senior did his job in contributing 30 teams individually to his team with the three wins, the state team title would not have been possible for the Marlins without his partner in crime in Oliver Alexander, who finished a state runner-up to teammate Clark in both the 100 (10.70) and 200 (21.53) meter dashes and anchored the 4x100 meter relay to a fourth place finish (43.12).
Great Bridge finished second with 39 points after winning last year's state title. The Wildcats were led by Mike Morrison, who only needed to clear a height of 15 feet in the pole vault to receive the ten points for his team after breaking Lawrence Johnson's record with a 17'6.50" clearance last week. Morrison was also an unexpected winner in the 300 meter hurdles as he was awarded the win after original winner Corey Vinston of Phoebus was disqualified for failing to bring his trail leg over a hurdle. Morrison won with a final time of 38.26, which matched the time posted by Vinston in Friday's preliminaries. Morrison also placed third in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 14.41.
Significant points were also earned by Great Bridge in the throwing events with Austin Lester picking up two All-State finishes in the shot put (4th, 55'1.50") and discus (6th, 162'8"), while teammate Jon Lockhart finished one place better in fifth (164'7") in the discus throw.
Winner of both throwing events and helping his team to a third place team finish was E.C. Glass senior Mike Zajac as he won Friday's discus with a mark of 175'4" and outdid co-state leader Ryan Gordon of WOodside (2nd, 56'4") by posting a new state leading throw of 58'4.50".
In the running events, Patterson Wilhelm and Carlton Phipps helped to raise the team total of the Hilltoppers. In Friday evening's 4x800 meter relay, E.C. Glass finished fifth with a time of 7:59.69 as Wilhelm and Phipps were their top two legs. On Saturday, Wilhelm scored in two distance events with a sixth place run in the 1600 meter run (4:21.49) and gutsy fourth place finishing time of 9:27.42 in the 3200 meter run. Phipps did not have the best race in the 800 meter run finishing seventh at 1:58.45, but two points is two points to help allow E.C. Glass to finish third with 34.50 points.
Central Region champions Manchester finished fourth with 29 points. The Lancers won the 4x100 meter relay with a time of 42.62 in a close win over Indian River 42.71. Manchester also had a state champion in the triple jump as sophomore Antonio Miller was the lone underclassmen boys' state champ in the meet with a winning mark of 47'8". Manchester junior Anthony Chesson also scored in the 100 (5th, 10.90) and 200 (4th, 21.69) meter dashes as will be the top returning athlete in both events next year.
Led by Dan Leyh and their 4x800 meter relay, Colonial Forge finished fifth. In a perceived down year earlier in the season in the event, Colonial Forge rectified that by posting a 7:46.81 sizzler, which is the fastest 4x800 meter relay time since Midlothian's 7:42.93 state meet record in 2003. Leyh, a member of Friday's winning relay came back on Saturday with one of the biggest upsets of the meet in running down defending indoor state champion Alex Bowman of Hermitage on the homestretch in the 1600 meter run with a time of 4:15.26.
Bowman bounced back from the defeat in the 800 meter run as he showed strong fortitude in pulling away for a 1:54.51 win. Herndon junior Abe Daganchew had an excellent double just behind Bowman in both the 1600 (3rd, 4:17.70) and 800 (2nd, 1:55.34) meter races.
Another gut check call was answered by West Springfield junior Mike Spooner in the 1600 meter run. After having a disappointing finish like Bowman in the 1600 meter run finishing fifth (4:19.42), Spooner put together an incredible last lap of 61 seconds in the 3200 meter run to nip Mountain View freshmen Thomas Porter for the state title in a time of 9:19.80 with Porter at 9:19.87 in one of the most exciting finishes of the meet. For Spooner, it was his second state title in the 3200 meter run with his first coming in indoors, while Porter will have plenty of more opportunities to win a state crown after his impressive showings at the cross country (10th), indoor (3rd - 3200 meters), and outdoor (2nd - 3200 meters) state meets as a ninth grader.
Though Francena McCorory being scratched from the meet and her high school career and Bethel's streak of state titles came to an end, Coach Eddie Williams can take great pride in the performance by his boys in the 4x400 meter relay as they had an amazing run by their anchor leg to nip Western Branch's anchor for a 3:20.27 win.
While Clark made history by sweeping the sprint events, Granby senior Chris Bell etched himself as well in the record books by winning the 110 meter hurdles state title for the fourth consecutive year with a time of 14.08. Bell will be taking his talent to Penn State University next fall to star for the Nittany Lions in football.
The Deep Creek and Landstown girls were two squads that were very overlooked heading into this weekend's state meet. Other Eastern Region teams such as Great Bridge, Menchville, and Bethel were being billed as more legitimate contenders. Also both teams have always been in the shadows of their boys' programs who have been past state champions in the past. However, both walked away from Todd Stadium on Saturday with a lot more respect and recognition after both won a share of the state team title with 41 points each. Less than three points separated the top four teams with Lee-Davis in third with 39 points and Lake Braddock fourth with 38.5 points.
The Deep Creek girls were given a big boost in the high jump with the top two finishers as defending state champion Ashley Gatling won at a height of 5'8", while senior teammate Jonee Artis took state runner-up honors at a clearance of 5'6". Fellow Deep Creek senior Shawanda Weston also placed in fourth place at 5'4" to give Deep Creek a total of 23 points in the event.
After the high jump, Coach Waddell's squad was able to pick up points here and there to add up to their total of 41 points. Other scores for Deep Creek included Chantill Harvey in the long jump (8th, 17'5.50") and 100 meter hurdles (5th, 15.04), Chantal Luedeke in the 100 meter hurdles (6th, 15.18), and Myesha Barr in the 400 meter dash (8th, 57.96). Just think if the one point was not gained by either Harvey's eighth place finish in the long jump or Barr's eighth place run in the 400 then Deep Creek would not be co-owners of the state championship. Every point certainly counted for the Creek.
Relay action also carried Deep Creek to their state as their 4x100 meter relay placed third in a time of 48.47, while their 4x400 meter relay finishing sixth place in a time of 3:55.24 saved them from being knocked out of first with Landstown winning the event.
Speaking of Landstown, the talk going into the final relay event was focused more on if Deep Creek could place seventh to jump ahead of Lee-Davis and Lake Braddock as their last potential point scorers were done for the day with Rachel Butler in the 300 meter hurdles and Erin Klein in the 3200 meter run.
Landstown sure snuck up on a lot of people when they blazed a season best time of 3:48.79 with the team of Kinesha Hinnant, Leah Brown, Faith Brock, and Cierra McGee. Brock is the only upperclassmen on the relay as a junior with the rest all being sophomores. Brown and McGee helped put the Lady Eagles in striking distance with outstanding individual performances earlier in the meet.
Brown finished as a state runner-up in the 100 meter dash with a 12.12 clocking as Matoaca junior Shanekka Claiborne won her first state crown in a swift time of 11.91.
Meanwhile, McGee finished fourth in a loaded 400 meter dash in a time of 56.75. The field could have even been better if it were not for the injury scratches of Bethel's Francena McCorory and Woodside's Dominique Jordan. Their absence left the state title up for grabs as Kecoughtan senior Tiara Swindell (55.62) was able to just edge out Fauquier junior Dania Sanford (55.77) for the win.
McGee then doubled back for the 200 meter dash finals as she beat 400 meter dash winner Swindell (2nd, 24.65) for her first state title in a 24.40 clocking.
Brown could have joined her in the 200 meter dash finals, but the Landstown coach had her sacrifice the individual event for the 4x100 meter relay, which the team picked up a critical eight points finishing second in a time of 47.77 without using McGee on the relay.
Salem won bragging rights of the Beach in the event as they rocked a quick time of 46.87 with the relay team of Shamika Kentish, Shonterria Fulton, Olivia Hutchins, and Teinesha Mitchell. Their time is just off the fastest time in the state of 46.74 this season posted by Bethel at the Penn Relays.
Finishing third and two points shy of a state title was the two member respresentives of Kathy Howard and Rachel Butler from Lee-Davis. Howard finished out her final high school state meet with an excellent showing by successfully defending her state championship in the shot put (41'6") and better than expected placing in the discus throw with a mark of 122'2" as the Central Region took the top two spots with Manchester senior Jennifer Marinacci (123'2") winning her second discus state title in three years. Marinacci won her first state title in 2004.
A busted knee from a hurdle preliminary race may have kept Rachel Butler from clearing a placing height in the pole vault and winning the state title, but she did her job in scoring as many events as possible for the Lady Confederates. Butler won her first state title ever in the triple jump as she nearly matched a personal best mark with a jump of 39'10.50". Butler also competed in the hurdles and placed in both event finals with a fourth place time of 14.89 in the 100 meter hurdles and 44.36 clocking in the 300 meter hurdles for third place.
Hampton junior Tierra Brown won both hurdle races and defeated two talented hurdlers from Menchville in Kali Watkins and Nicole Saunders in the process. In the 100 meter hurdles, Brown became one of only a few athletes ever to break 14 seconds at the state meet with state best 13.95 meter clocking. Last year's state champ Watkins finished second in 14.20. Brown was favored to beat Watkins, but pulled off an upset in defeating previous US #1 400 meter hurdler Nicole Saunders as it went down to the wire between the two of them in one of the closest races of the day with Brown winning her second state title in the event at 42.53 and Saunders finishing only two hundredths of a second behind her at 42.55.
Another wire to wire finish was found in the girls' 1600 meter run with Eastern Region champion Kristine Tobin of Great Bridge and Central Region champion M.C. Miller of Midlothian. Cross country state champion Rachel Rose set the pace early on for the field, but on the final lap it was going to be a race between indoor state 1600 meter champion Tobin and Miller. Miller swung wide of Tobin on the homestretch and seemed to be inching closer ahead to be in front, but Tobin was able to hold the Midlothian junior off for a personal best 4:53.02 win with Miller in second at 4:53.19 in one of the finest races of the meet.
Rose held on to third as she barely missed breaking five minutes at 5:00.91. The Albemarle junior Rose came back later in the 3200 meter run to run away from the field early on to win in a time of 10:50.73. Forest Park senior Stefanie Slekis had an excellent final high school state meet race in running a personal best of 10:54.09 for second. W.T. Woodson junior and 3200 meter indoor state champion Sarrah Hadiji was forced to drop out of the race early on after attempting to race with 20 plus stitches on her heel from a dog attack that forced her out of the regional meet as well.
Marlene Belizaire joined Kecoughtan teammate Tiara Swindell as a state champion as pulled off a slight upset in her 2:15.06 win over a loaded field that included a slew of runners at 2:15 or faster including defending state champion Chrisi Harsha of Douglas Freeman (4th, 2:16.87). Westfield sophomore Tasia Potasinski finished second in a promising finish for the underclassmen at 2:15.93.
Richmond TImes-Dispatch - "Duo puts Lee-Davis third in state meet" by Stephen M. Lewis
Washington Post - "Spooner Uses Late Dash To Steal 3,200 State Title" by Sean P. Flynn
Daily Press - "Double, trouble" by Darry Slater
The Virginian Pilot - "Marlins' winning margin: more than a hair" by Larry Rubama (Day 2 Article)
The Virginian Pilot - "State track crowns still up for grabs" by Larry Rubama (Day 1 Article)