LYNCHBURG, VA -- Expect an all out war from start to finish from the defending Northwest Region champs Brooke Point girls and Osbourn Park girls. Brooke Point will look to two individuals to carry them to another regional championship in jumper April Sinkler and distance runner Brittany Copeland, while the Coach Mike Feldman's Osbourn girls will throw a well balanced attack to attempt to dethrone them.
Two great teams will face off at Liberty University's Tolsma Track Center on Friday for the Northwest Region Indoor Track & Field Championships with Commonwealth District champion Brooke Point girls and Cedar Run District champion Osbourn Park girls. The Osbourn Park girls have more depth and bodies to go the distance of the meet, but never count out a defending champion and especially with two tough individuals in April Sinkler and Brittany Copeland of Brooke Point.
The two-sport star Sinkler (pictured left, by John Herzog) has been doubling up again this winter as she has done in the past with basketball and indoor track. It did not seem to tire her out last year as she swept all of the jumping events at the regional indoor meet despite having played in an overtime basketball game the night before. There is no reason to doubt that the Clemson bound Sinkler cannot put up 30 points again out of the jumping events, especially with returning AAA outdoor state champion long jumper Brittni Dixon of Woodbridge scratched from the meet.
Sinkler is tied with five others in the nation at a US #5 height of 5'8" in the high jump this season. She will need to be in top form in the event though and will not be able to settle clearing a lesser height with two other competitors right behind her with 5'6" best clearances this season in Rachel Copwood of Woodbridge and Kathleen Wade of Colonial Forge.
With her mark of 37'6.25 from January's Montgomery Invitational, Sinkler is seeded first in the triple jump, but will be joined in the competition with a fellow competitor over 37 feet this season in Jasmine Hairston of Franklin County at 37'2.50".
Her toughest test may come in the long jump as the Brooke Point senior will not come in as the top seed as Osbourn Park senior Katie Trizna leaped recently to a 18'1.50" personal best at the Cedar Run District Meet. Sinkler's season best is 17'11.50", but has competed sparingly in the last half of the season due to basketball and has an all-time best of 18'8.75" from last spring at Nike Outdoor Nationals. Expect Sinkler to crank out a big jump here in preparation for the fierce competition she'll face at the state meet. However, a win for Trizna in this event over Brooke Point's top athlete in the All-American Sinkler would certainly be a huge momentum shift coming out of the field events and onto the track.
Brittany Copeland (pictured right, by John Herzog) will be given the biggest challenge out of any of the Brooke Point athletes in attempting to triple in one day with the 4x800 meter relay, 1600 meter run, and 800 meter run. Copeland would be the girl up for the job as few distance runners in the state have had a heavier race schedule than Brooke Point's top distance runner. During the cross country season, Copeland competed in a 5K cross country invitational on every Saturday from September 2nd at the Chancellor Invite to October 14th at the Albemarle Invite for a seven consecutive weekends stretch. Then throw in weekday dual meets and championship season, you would guess Copeland would be toast by the time Footlocker South rolled around near the end of November. Guess again as Copeland had her best race of the season with a season best 5K time of 18:32.
She will have to show that same toughness to survive a long haul on Friday in Lynchburg. Brooke Point's 4x800 meter relay has the fastest time in the region coming in at 9:46.45, which is less than a second off the automatic state qualifying standard of 9:45.60. If Brooke Point had been able to automatically state qualify in the event prior to the regional meet, Copeland might be skipping this event to rest for later individual events. However, in order for Brooke Point to send a 4x800 meter relay team to the state meet, they have to finish in the top three in order to advance on and such a finish would be tough to do without Copeland. Also a 4x800 meter relay win is a significant ten point contribution to the team effort.
Especially with Osbourn Park as the next fastest seed at 9:48.64, Coach Ocheltree's girls do not want to let their chief rivals on Friday gain anymore ground in this event without a stacked lineup.
Copeland will have little over two hours rest in between her leg in the 4x800 meter relay and the 1600 meter run, which she is the top seed in the event with a season best time of 5:13.24. At last year's AAA State Indoor Meet, Copeland finished second to Great Bridge's Kristy Tobin with an indoor best time of 5:04 for 1600 meters. She will have to be wary of two-time AAA state cross country champion Rachel Rose of Albemarle, who looks to be doing the same triple as Copeland in the 4x800, 1600, and 1000 meter races.
Rose was M.I.A. from mid-December to the week leading up to districts, but reappeared in time for the Commonwealth District Meet. She did not have a great showing in the 1600 meter run with a time of 5:23.04 to finish fifth in the race, but came back to win the 3200 meter run in 11:20. She may have been missing time due to injury, but as the end of the cross country season with Rose coming back from a mid-season stress fracture to win her second consecutive state title, her toughness and determination can never be underestimated.
Mountain View's Heather Lambert could be the surprise winner in the race, but not so much of a surprise after beating both Copeland and Rose at the district meet in the 1600 meter run with a second place time of 5:15.
The same three will be seeing what is left in the tank for the 1000 meter run as they will be racing against fresher runners in the fast section including top seed Kathleen Wade as the Princeton recruit has ran 3:00.49 this season for 1000 meters. A perfect day for Wade would be to upset Sinkler in the high jump and take down the field in five lap event.
Albemarle sophomore Elizabeth Barclay will be a strong threat to win the race as well as while she has a season best time six seconds slower than Wade's at 3:06.84, Barclay has some of the better finishing kicks out of the competitors. Mountain View's Lambert won the Commonwealth District 1000 meter race over Barclay with a close finish and could certainly become a double regional champion on Friday.
Returning back to the team picture with Brooke Point's reliance on two individuals, Osbourn Park has to be given the slight edge as the favorites with a handful of individuals to count for team points.
Starting in the field events, Katie Trizna will look to get the ball rolling as she is highly placed in three jumping events including a top seed in the long jump. The Osbourn Park senior could potentially pick up another ten points from strong placings in the high jump and triple jump as she has the fourth best seed marks in both with a 5'4" in the high jump and 34'11" in the triple jump.
The long jump could see Osbourn Park rack up nearly 20 points with Trizna and the Hyter twins, Bethany (17'11.50") and Brittany (17'5.50"), as only Brooke Point's Sinkler breaks up Osbourn Park from having the top three long jumpers in the region.
On the track, the 55 meter hurdles and 500 meter dash will give Osbourn Park the opportunity to tally 15 or more points in each event with two of the region's best in both from their squad. Osbourn Park junior Michelle Ferguson will be the favorite to the win the 55 meter hurdles with her 8.45 season best, while Brittany Hyter could easily sneak into second place with her best time of 8.86, which seeds her third coming in.
Another 1-2 finish from Osbourn Park is projected in the 500 meter dash as Bethany Hyter holds the region's fastest time at 1:16.74 with sophomore teammate Cristin Gonzales right on her heels at 1:16.94 as their times are a second faster than third seed Natalie Woodford of Patrick Henry (1:17.91).
Both Hyter twins will be coming back in the 300 meter dash in the second fastest section looking to beat some of the times from the top section, which include a Brooke Point athlete in junior Koah Chitty at 42.24. Fauquier senior Dania Sanford should challenge the meet record of 39.94 set in 1984 by Pam Moore of Woodbridge. Sanford ran her 39.52 season and personal best on a fast banked Virginia Tech track, but Sanford will be gunning to become the first Virginian girl to break 40 seconds this season on a flat track after Woodside's Dominique Jordan just missed doing so in an Eastern Region Meet win in at 40.01.
With both of the Hyters competing in two individual running events that leaves Coach Feldman with the decision to make on which of the two top ranked relays in the region in the 4x200 (1:45.70) and 4x400 (3:53.21). The Northwest Region is not the Eastern Region when it comes to sprint relays, so a team as dominant and deep as Osbourn Park in the two events can definitely get away with not running stacked lineups and still come away with wins.
Osbourn Park could receive some extra points heading into the final event of the meet from freshmen distance runner Ariel Karabinus as she is seeded fourth in the 3200 meter run with a time of 11:45.42. Karabinus has came through big in championship meets before as she earned All-State honors in cross country this past fall. Colonial Forge junior Kaylan Comer will the favorite in the event as has ran under 11:10 in the past and clocked a time off 11:24 last week outdoors.
Brooke Point will have their own backup support behind Sinkler and Copeland as well though. Sophomore Colleen McGlade is the second ranked pole vaulter in the Northwest Region for Brooke Point at ten feet, while meet record holder (10'1") and defending regional champion Erin Franklin returns to defend her title and improve upon her record as the Franklin County junior has cleared 10'6" this winter.
Another Brooke Point sophomore in Becky Sampson is also a solid hurdler within the region as she comes in with a 8.89 best in the 55 meter hurdles, which is fourth fastest in the Northwest Region. While Brooke Point's relays are not of the caliber of the Osbourn Park girls, they will be competitive in the 4x200 and 4x400 meter relays and figure to place high in the four team fast sections of both.
There are very few events among the girls in the meet that do not have a significant role in shaping the pending outcome of the team results. The 55 meter dash is one of them as Potomac sophomore Yvonne Amegashie is one of the state's fastest underclassmen sprinters including a 7.24 personal best in the event. The shot put is likely to be the lone field event not won by a member from the Brooke Point or Osbourn Park teams as Fauquier senior Porter Watkins with a 39'5" best will look to put away the competition with her first throw over 40 feet.