VHSL Group AAA State Indoor Championships - Boys Meet Summary

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It was the first time that the state meet has been held at Boo Williams Sportsplex and several historic performances came out of the boys' events with the Albemarle boys shattering the meet record by four seconds in the 4x800 on Friday in a US #5 all-time performance of 7:44.70, Bobby Peavey breaking Alan Webb's 1600 meter record in a time of 4:09, and James Taylor pulling off the historic quadrouple with a long jump title to complement his sweep of the sprints (55, 300, 500).

Taylor had two of the best athletes in Virginia high school history to witness his incredible weekend with Olympic gold medalist Lashawn Merritt, who had pulled off the sprint triple like Taylor in 2004, and Doug Dickinson, who is the most accomplished indoor state champion with 11 state titles to his name and set two national records in state competition.

The team battle between Albemarle and Western Branch was close as expected. A fall and DNF by Western Branch's 4x200 meter relay certainly had a huge impact on the final outcome, but points could have came elsewhere as only five points separated the two schools in the team scoring at the end. Albemarle won their first state team championship in over three decades with much of the credit going to Jordan Hill's (pictured right by Ted Plunkett) three runner-up finishes in the jumps and Anthony Kostelac's monster triple in the 4x800, 1600, and 1000.


Boys 55 Meter Dash

The top seed Damien Thigpen false started in Friday’s prelims to knock him out of Saturday’s finals, but Thigpen’s presence would not have slowed down Nansemond River senior James Taylor as the 55 meter dash was just the first of many titles Taylor would take home on Saturday.

With a great start, Taylor motored his way to a US #3 clocking of 6.26 to win the finals, which ranks him #2 all-time in state meet history behind record holder Andre Cason of Green Run. Cason’s time was hand held time, which makes Taylor’s FAT performance even more impressive.

The next three finishers were from the Eastern Region with Green Run junior Dejor Simmons (3rd, 6.37), Bethel senior Earl House (3rd, 6.43), and Landstown junior Darrell Wesh (4th, 6.44). Wesh has had to run in the shadows of his star sister Marlena Wesh, but at least he can brag to his sister of finishing just as high as her in an event at the state meet with his personal best clocking.

South Lakes senior Vincent Brown quickly turned around from his runner-up finish in the 55 meter hurdles to win the slower section of two finals in 6.46 to place fifth overall in the event. George Washington had a pair of All-State finishers in David Wilson (6th, 6.48) and DeVaughn Benion Jr (7th, 6.49). The sophomore Benion was the only underclassmen to make the finals in the event.

Boys 300 Meter Dash

After the 500 meter dash, it did not appear that James Taylor could possibly have another first place in him after already winning 3 events on the day. He had to go to the well to fight for his 500 win and could be seen with his legs propped up against the awards stand with ice packs on both legs.

He warmed those legs quickly up in the 300 meter dash as he ran one of the nation’s fastest times on a flat track in the event with his 34.07 performance, which is 7th fastest in meet history. Damien Thigpen of Stonewall Jackson attempted to be the first to take down Taylor in the meet after missing his chance in the 55 meter dash with a false start in the prelims. Thigpen got out well in the first 200 meters and appeared to be even with Taylor heading into the final straightaway, but Taylor just kept picking it up to win by a nearly half second over the two-time 300 meter hurdles champion Thigpen in second at 34.54.

Several athletes came out of slower sections to place in the event. In particular, Bayside junior Brandon Station ran swift as the section 3 winner with a 35.26 clocking, ended up fourth overall behind Great Bridge junior Taylor Sykes (3rd, 34.94). Though faster times from the slower sections displaced a higher finish for him, Jordan Hill’s 2 points for Albemarle in his 7th place finish were critical in the late stages of the meet.

Boys 500 Meter Dash

It is rare for a section of the top 6 seeds in any circular sprint race at the state meet to end up as the top six finishers in an event. It was a loaded top section for the 500 meter dash though featuring 5 athletes ranked among the top 10 in the US with four runners having ran at least 1:04 and a past state champion in Javanti Sparrow of Western Branch.

Nansemond River’s James Taylor, in pursuit of four state titles, was able to gain the advantage on the others at the break point and control the pace. Without an aggressive early first half of the race, it left the top section bunched up together with a lap to go. Great Bridge’s Taylor Sykes, a narrow state runner-up one year ago, attempted to challenge Taylor on the backstretch. Taylor refused to relinquish the lead and the inside lane and appeared to have another victory in sight as he made his way around the final turn.

Albemarle senior Zachary Vrhovac made it interesting though as he had to move his way through a lot of traffic in the final lap to be in position to chase down Taylor on the final straightaway. He moved too late though as Taylor came across the line just ahead at 1:05.14 with Vrhovac closing hard at 1:05.33. It was a disappointing race for Sykes after running a US #3 time of 1:03.69 and fastest performance on a flat track two weeks ago at Boo Williams for his district meet.

I.C. Norcom junior Raymond Thornton was a surprise All-State finisher out of section 3 with his time of 1:07.03 placing him 7th overall in the event. A rising star in the event from the Northern Region is Chantilly sophomore Mohammed Labor-Karoma, who won his first regional title last week and then snagged the final All-State spot of 8th place by winning his section in 1:07.08.

Boys 1000 Meter Run

With a 1:53 anchor leg split from the night before a and 4:10 1600 just over an hour prior under his legs, another PR run and state title in the 100 from Albemarle junior Anthony Kostelac seemed improbable. Kostelac defied logic though as he found another tank of reserve to put on an impressive kick in the final 200 meters to seize the lead away from Thomas Edison senior Tihut Degfae to win in a personal best time of 2:30.51. He completed one of the most impressive distance triples in recent meet history by finishing out with his first individual state title to accompany his two previous 4x800 relay state titles.

Degfae tried to hold on for second place after a gutsy early effort to gap himself from Kostelac and the rest of the field, but Varina senior Devin Lacks was able to move past him in the final stretch for a time of 2:33.13. Lacks did not end up as state runner-up though as his strong finish was upstaged by Central Region rival Alec Ward, who finished second overall out of a slower section as he set a hard pace from the onset to help him to a personal best time of 2:32.49 and garner a state runner-up finish. Ward was pressed on the last lap by Manchester’s Jason Thorpe, who also earned All-State honors from the slower section in sixth overall at 2:33.92. The Central Region had four of the top six finishers in the 1000 with Ward, Lacks, Deep Run’s Greg Kaczka (5th, 2:33.7), and Thorpe.

Hats off to both Bobby Peavey (7th, 2:34.24) of Kellam and Drew Paisley (8th, 2:34.32) of Ocean Lakes coming off hard personal best performances in the 1600 earlier to still earn All-State honors doubling back along with race champion Kostelac.

Boys 1600 Meter Run

The lone meet record in the boys’ individual events came as a surprise in the 1600 meter run with Bobby Peavey of Kellam taking down Alan Webb’s seven year old record of 4:12.11 with Peavey becoming the first Virginian to break 4:10 indoors in many years. Webb, the HS national record holder indoors in the mile at 3:59, thankfully did not make his state indoor meet record to out of reach for another Virginian prep to come along some day to take it down, but Peavey still had to roll to get it.

Peavey with a personal best of 4:14 prior, set an aggressive early pace for the rest of the field to follow. The final result was Peavey running a US #5 time of 4:09.31 and a top 8 all under 4:20 for arguably the deepest field at any state meet so far this indoor season in the event.

Albemarle junior Anthony Kostelac gave a little hope of a close finish at the end, but Peavey was still closing strong in the final lap despite a hard early pace. Kostelac still was able to close the gap and run a huge personal best of 7 seconds in his runner-up time of 4:10.73, which also went under the old meet record. 

Leoule Degfae has battled back well from an injury which has set him back for most of the season to place third in 4:16.86, while Blake Theroux certainly did his part to help Western Branch’s team cause with his PR 4:16.95 for fourth place.

Midlothian’s Brayden Burleigh, the Nike Indoor Nationals champion in the freshmen mile, ran the second fastest time in the country this season by a sophomore with his 4:17.01 fifth place performance to rank only between the Rosa twins of New Jersey.

A total of four of the sub 4:20 performers in this year’s state meet race will be back next year with Kostelac, Theroux, Burleigh, and Drew Paisley of Ocean Lakes running a lifetime best of 4:17.98 for seventh place. This year’s 1600 race will go down as the fastest ever in meet history though with a top 7 finishers all among the top 25 all-time in meet history.

Boys 3200 Meter Run

The 3200 meter run had a similar resemblance to the state cross country race this past fall with Thomas Porter of Mountain View and Ben Dejarnette of Atlee battling it out for the state title. Dejarnette, the defending 3200 indoor state champion, was competing in his third race of the meet after running the 4x800 on Friday and 1600 on Saturday, so it appeared to favor Porter with only a 4x800 leg on Friday on his legs. Both runners had their indoor season’s training altered to compete at the 8K distance for the USATF Cross Country Championships held in Maryland this past February.

Their times in the race did not indicate they were not sharp to run fast on the track though as Porter put down a personal best US #4 time of 9:09.01 and Dejarnette took second in 9:13.86. Porter showed off impressive wheels in the final lap to pull away from Dejarnette, which had always been Porter’s weakness in past state meet 3200s against competition with superior leg speed.

His victory also helped Mountain View make history as it was the first time that the 3200 state champion in both the boys and girls race came from the same school as he followed up Mountain View junior Kaitlyn Davis’ 11:01 win half an hour earlier.

Chantilly junior Chris Foley ran right off Porter and Dejarnette through much of the first mile and then ran the second mile mostly in no man’s land, but still finished comfortably ahead of the fourth place finisher with his time of 9:30.96.

With his fourth place finish of 9:40.41, Western Branch junior Blake Theroux did all he could to put his team in better position against Albemarle heading into the final event in the 4x400 meter relay with his stellar double coming back from a 4:16 1600 earlier in the day.

Deep Run’s Booth Hornsby had a big kick in his final lap and it resulted in the senior earning his first All-State honor from the slow section in a time of 9:43.40 for 7th place.

Boys 55 Meter Hurdles

Jeffrey Artis of Western Branch has had several runner-up finishes in various events at the state meet including the hurdles as the 8 points in his second place finishes have been helpful to his team’s past state championships. However, Artis still was hoping to finally get some individual glory for once with his own state title in an event.

In an expected duel with Vincent Brown of South Lakes who ran a state leading time of 7.30 at his regional meet, Artis came out as the champion in the finals with a US #4 7.32 clocking. Brown claimed second in 7.38 as the winning time by Artis was fifth fastest time in meet history.

Lakeland may have the next hurdles state champion in sophomore JaQuan Demiel, who was one of only two non-seniors in the two section finals of 12 athletes, and placed fourth in a personal best clocking of 7.57.

Boys 4x200 Meter Relay

The 4x200 ended up being  a bizarre event with only two relays from the fast section ending up among the top 8 overall with Green Run (4th, 1:32.49) and Stonewall Jackson (8th, 1:33.8). Western Branch came in as the top seed and the only team under 1:30 this season, but their second leg Daniel Nix went down in the second turn while battling with a runner from Green Run. There was debate as to whether or not the Green Run made contact with Nix or cut in on his lane to force the fall, but no disqualification was made and Western Branch’s DNF ended up having serious implications in the final team outcome as only five points ended up separating Albemarle (66 pts) and Western Branch (61 pts).

The team who ended up benefited from the controversy and fall in the 4x200 was Grassfield as the surprise champion from section 4 of 6 with their time of 1:32.01. Kempsville nearly won the state title from a slower section as the winners of section 3 in a time of 1:32.30.

The angst of coaches as to why the state meet still will not go to a 3 turn stagger in the 4x200 appears to continue at Boo Williams from George Mason, which both have ran 2 turn staggers and have seen plenty of collisions, contact, and disqualifications in holding the event in a risky format.

Boys 4x400 Meter Relay

The Western Branch boys knew going into the last event that even if they won the 4x400 meter relay, it would not be enough to move ahead of Albemarle for the team title. Knowing that information did not deter the Western Branch boys nor Daniel Nix who required stitches and refused going to the hospital after his fall in the 4x200 from an admirably strong finish to a meet in which misfortune kept them from a third straight state title.

Douglas Freeman challenged them throughout, but Nix on third leg put Western Branch in the lead as he went up against 1000 meter state runner-up Alec Ward on his leg. Eric Addison closed the gap back up for Freeman on anchor, but 55 meter hurdles finals qualifier Jeffrey Lewis was able to hold him off to bring home a 3:25.18 state title in the 4x400 for Western Branch. Freeman was a close second in 3:25.86.

Boys 4x800 Meter Relay

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). Their time at the state meet ranks #5 all-time in US high school indoor history. They will get another opportunity at the record with more competition at the Nike Indoor Nationals in March.

Western Branch only let Albemarle gain 2 points out of the event though as their relay battled out fellow Eastern Region squad Ocean Lakes (3rd, 8:03.05) in a second place time of 8:01.31. Third leg Blake Theroux would go onto earn All-State honors in the 1600 and 3200 on Saturday.

Boys High Jump

There was talk that Justin Hunter of Ocean Lakes might not show for high jump on Saturday due to obligations related to off-season preparations for football. Good thing that Hunter came to his senses and realized that the high school indoor state meet and potential to win a state title might be a little bit more important as the junior successfully cleared 6’7” in a good competition with fellow junior Jordan Hill of Albemarle.

Hill was a state runner-up in three events with the high jump being the event which he had the closest chance to winning with US #1 performers in the other events. In his third field event of the meet, Hill continued to step up in the clutch with a 6’6” clearance for a state runner-up performance.

Nansemond River senior John James had his day cut short due to a hip injury on one of his attempts, but his 6’3” clearance before the injury gave him a sixth place finish and allowed him to contribute the James Taylor show and give three points to Nansemond River’s final total of 48 points. Nansemond River finished third in the team standings.

Boys Pole Vault

The girls pole vault started later than expected on Friday 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"). Kelly, headed to VMI next year, was hoping for a higher height though after clearing 15’8” earlier in the season at the Reno Pole Vault Summit and finishing as a state runner-up last year with the same height of 15’3”.

Armentrout’s clearance was a season best for the UVA bound senior and Forest Park junior John Brennan came through in clutch at the state meet  as well to match his season best with his 14’6” clearance to claim fourth place.

Boys Long Jump

James Taylor of Nansemond River made his day a lot easier by popping a 24’1.25” early in his preliminary flight of the long jump to retire early for the rest of the competition and turn his attention to other events in his pursuit for an historic 4 state titles. The mark was particularly impressive on the alternate runway, which has not produced as many good performances as the runway on the backstretch which is not above ground and is a longer runway. Of the four titles which Taylor eventually won, the long jump was the only title which he was defending from last year.

Once again Jordan Hill found himself in second place in another event as the Albemarle junior made a huge impact on the team awards with his consistent clutch performances throughout the weekend. Hill was able to outdistance himself by a couple inches from triple jump champion David Wilson (3rd, 22’9”) of George Washington and 55 meter hurdles champion Jeffrey Artis (4th, 22’8.25”) of Western Branch.

Boys Triple Jump

 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. The three scorers put Western Branch in the lead after the first day of events with 21 points and Albemarle in second with 18 points.

Despite the significance of the triple jump in regards to the team standings at the time, 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. The defending AAA state champion extended his US lead in 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.

Boys Shot Put

It was apparent that Woodbridge sophomore Isaiah Simmons is on another level than the rest of the throwers in the state as virtually all of his throws except for a out of the sector foul which took out the 52 foot marking sign, were well ahead of the next best throwers in the competition. His best throw was a personal best of 56’10.75”, which bettered his previous best by over a full foot. Simmons ranks as one of the top underclassmen in the nation in the event and if he wins the state title as a junior and senior, he would become the first three-time state indoor champion in the shot put. Simmons has eyes set on throwing one deep for 60 feet sooner than later in his high school career with plenty of time to get there.

While Simmons has been throwing the shot since his 8th grade year and gave up football to focus on throwing, Clover Hill senior Anthony Davis was a late newcomer to the sport as this is his first season throwing and will be headed to Towson State next year on a football scholarship. Davis started off the season throwing under 45 feet in the shot, but as he learned the event, he showed steady improvement to go over 50 feet and win the Central Region title with a personal best mark of 52’6”. Davis went a inch better at the state meet to place second ahead of 2008 outdoor state runner-up Philip Mesadeui of Patrick (3rd, 52’1.50”) with a mark of 52’7” to finish as a state runner-up in his first season of track and field.