NEWPORT NEWS, VA -- The meet was off to a flying start on Friday in the first day of events at the Christopher Newport University High School Showcase in Newport News. There were three US top five performances recorded during the event and several state leading performances also posted.
Coach Eddie Williams has his Bethel girls looking sharp and ready to make another state championship run to show the tradition never ends even after Francena McCorory\'s graduation. In the finals of the 55 meter dash, the statement was made with the top two finishers coming from Bethel with Shakia Forbes and Crystal Carrington clocking the top two fastest times in the state this season at 7.19 and 7.20 respectively. Forbes also uncorked a US#3 and state leading mark of 18\'9.50\" in the long jump for her second win of the night.
Bethel also had a winner in the shot put with Kayla Campbell throwing for a personal best throw of 38\'4.50\". With only two other throwers in the Group AAA currently over 40 feet in the event, Campbell has positioned herself to pick up considerable points for Bethel at the state meet.
While Bethel girls have traditionally been the most dominant sprint program in the state over the past years, the Midlothian girls appear to be starting the same in the distance events as it was never more apparent than the performance that two of their relays put up in the 4x800 meter relay.
Meet management allowed for an exception in having the Nike Team Nationals representatives from the Southeast Region in Midlothian to enter a \"B\" team into the 4x800 meter relay event on the merit of their amazing depth with distance girls and they did not disappoint. The \"B\" team for the Lady Trojans actually led through two and a half legs until the \"A\" team finally seized the lead and finished as the winners in a state best time of 9:37.68. The \"B\" team did not finish far behind though in second place with a time of 9:43.57 as the time ranks them second in the state and under the automatic state qualifying time for the AAA State Meet. Unfortunately, the state meet does not allow for more than one relay per team. Midlothian\'s fastest leg among the eight relay members on the two teams was 2:20 from Samantha Dow and slowest leg was 2:30 from Christine Selander in exhibiting a simply dominant showing to other potential
The most anticipated matchup of the evening came in the finals of the girls\' 55 meter hurdles with three All-Americans taking up the middle lanes with Hampton\'s Tierra Brown and Menchville\'s Kali Watkins and Nicole Saunders. Brown came out on top in the battle of the Eastern Region and state\'s best in a US#5 and state leading time of 8.01, which is also a new personal best for the Hampton senior. Watkins, the defending AAA state champion in the event, finished second in a personal best time as well of 8.08. Saunders, more geared towards the long hurdle and sprint events, took third in 8.31.
Saunders showed her strength is in the longer events as the 58 second 400 meter hurdler put up a US#5 time of 1:18.08 in the 500 meter dash. Her time now ranks her first in the state in an event that she has competed in sparingly in the past with the 300 meter dash being her focus last indoor season.
Great Bridge senior Kristy Tobin put forth a good effort in the 1600 meter run as the defending AAA state champion in the event led wire to wire in the event without anyone pushing her for a final time of 5:06.61. Look for the Virginia Tech bound Tobin to start cranking out a sub five minute race by the end of the month and especially when she races on her future home track at the end of the month in Blacksburg.
Betsy Alter of Westfield and Annie Powell of Patrick Henry both cleared 10\'6\" in the pole vault, but the win ended up going to Alter. For the Patrick Henry senior Powell, Friday night\'s clearance was six inch improvement on her all-time personal best.
Kevin Nichols had a similar close win in the high jump for the boys as the Hickory senior and Chris Copeland of Lakeland both cleared 6\'6\" and were unsuccessful at clearing three attempts at 6\'8\". Earlier misses by Copeland allowed Nichols to pick up the victory though as the tiebreaker.
Kempsville\'s Trenton Hughes beat state leader Predist Walker of Lakeland in the long jump and also bumped him off the state leaderboard with a leap of 22\'9.50\".
While Walker did not have the day he hoped for in the jumps, he certainly came back in the finals of 55 meter hurdles with a little extra fire to his steps as he blazed a personal best and state leading time of 7.58 to win the event and avenge an earlier season loss at CNU to Western Branch sophomore Kevin Newsome.
The finish in the finals of the 55 meter dash was way too close to call between Manchester\'s Reggie Hill and Indian River\'s Thomas Speller by the naked eye. Speller celebrated after the race as if he had won, but the finish line camera showed by hundredths of a second, Hill to be the winner with both timed a 6.49.
Atlee sophomore Ben Dejarnette broke away from the field in the last half of the race to win the 1600 meter run convicingly in a near personal best time of 4:27.84. Friday night\'s time was a personal best for Dejarnette in indoors though.
Hermitage boys rolled to victory in the 4x800 meter relay with no signs of a weak leg through all four as they took the lead midway and never looked back. The Panthers were anchored home by John Vial for a final time of 8:11.05 to win by 11 seconds.
With a no show from Matthew Anderson of Westfield, Landstown\'s Kevin Wilson stepped up in the fast section of the 500 meter dash and powered his way in for a 1:07.03 win in the final running event of the day one.