Despite a record day from senior April Sinkler in the jumps, the Brooke Point girls were unable to defend their regional team championship as the Cedar Run District champion Osbourn Park girls had too much firepower to stop at the Northwest Region Indoor Track & Field Championships held Friday at Liberty University's Tolsma Track Center. Meanwhile, Coach Dave Davis has quickly made the Mountain View boys a regional powerhouse not only in cross country, but in track as well as the second year school is only an outdoor championship from the triple title crown this year.
LYNCHBURG, VA --
After sweeping the jumping events at last year's regional meet, Brooke Point's April Sinkler really had to have a huge day to top her meet performance from 2006. She definitely showed to be in even better form in 2007. In the triple jump, Sinkler broke the meet record set by Olympian Sheena Johnson from Gar-Field in 2000 with a US #4 and state leading mark of 39'8.25". The jump also was an improvement from her previous personal best of 39'5" from last spring. The Clemson recruit picked up her second meet record with a 5'8" clearance to tie her season best and US top 5 height in the high jump. Her third win of the meet came in the long jump with a top mark of 18'4.50".
In the chase for the team championship though, it was the Osbourn Park girls that came out as the big winners with a team score of 113 points to finish well ahead of runners-up and 2006 champions Brooke Point (89.50 pts). The backbone of the Osbourn Park girls squad was their outstanding sprint relays, but they also had plenty of great individual performances throughout the day to distance themselves from the rest of the Northwest Region teams.
The Osbourn Park girls were runaway winners in both the 4x200 and 4x400 meter relays despite not running "loaded" squads with a three second win in the 4x200 at 1:47.90 and six second victory in the 4x400 at 4:04.51. Coach Mike Feldman had his girls spread out in events throughout the day in the field and running events to maximize his team points.
While Brooke Point instantly received 30 points from Sinkler's three wins, her points were neutralized by the high place finishes by multiple Osbourn Park individuals in the jumping events. No event was the case more apparent than in the long jump with Osbourn Park taking the next three places after event winner Sinkler with Bethany Hyter (2nd, 16'11"), Katie Trizna (3rd, 16'9.50"), and Brittany Hyter (16'5.50") as Osbourn Park tallied 19 points in the event versus Brooke Point's 10 points with Sinkler's win.
Trizna was Osbourn Park's leading points scorer in the field events as she not only placed third in the long jump, but the senior finished runner-up in the triple jump at 36'2.50" and took third in the high jump at a height of 5'4".
Osbourn Park had two individual regional champions on the track with Michelle Ferguson in the 55 meter hurdles and Bethany Hyter in the 500 meter dash. Ferguson clocked a time of 8.63 in the finals with teammate Brittany Hyter in third a 8.79. Meanwhile, Hyter's twin sister Bethany won a competitive 500 meter race with four under 1:20 in a time of 1:7.83 with team member Cristin Gonzales in third at 1:18.97.
The Hyter sisters also rolled in the 300 meter dash out of a slower section to bump down some of the athletes from the top section to finish third (Brittany, 42.01) and fourth (Bethany, 42.09). State leader Dania Sanford won the event with a 40.35 clocking, which is the fastest ever run by the Fauquier star sprinter on a flat track as she expects to contend for the AAA State title on another flat track at George Mason University.
The Colonial Forge girls took third in the team standings with 44 points and were led by senior Kathleen Wade or often known as K.C. Wade. Wade had stellar performances on the track in individual and relay action as well as in the field events. Wade was the regional runner-up in the high jump to Sinkler with a clearance of 5'4" and joined a small few of Virginian girls to dip under three minutes this year in the 1000 meter run to win the event with a personal best time of 2:59.99 as she just barely got under the time. The Princeton recruit also anchored home the winning 4x800 meter relay as strong second leg from Kaylan Comer put Colonial Forge out in front for good to run of the fastest times in the this season at 9:36.44. Wade had the top split on anchor though at roughly 2:18.
Meanwhile, Comer came back later to become Colonial Forge's second regional champion out of the distance races on the day as she looked comfortable cruising to a 19 second victory in the 3200 meter run with a final time of 11:24.51.
Kim Blaylock may end up becoming Battlefield High's first state champion in track as the relatively new school in Haymarket now has one of the fastest 55 meter sprinters in the state heading into the AAA State Meet next weekend with a 7.14 clocking from Blaylock to win the Northwest Region title. Only defending AAA 100 meter outdoor state champion Shanneka Claiborne of Matoaca has ran faster this season in the state than Blaylock's time Friday at Liberty University.
One of the few surprise predictions in the meet preview by MileStat.com, lesser known Heather Lambert of Mountain View made herself a bit more known in winning the regional championship for 1600 meters by defeating a strong field including two-time state cross country champion Rachel Rose and last year's indoor state runner-up for 1600 meters in Brittany Copeland. In a very strategicly run race with a slow first half of 2:42, Lambert put the hammer down at the end to come away with a 5:15.87 win to put five seconds on second place finisher Rose (5:20.55) in the final 200 meters of the race after taking the lead at the sound of the bell lap.
Fauquier senior Porter Watkins was the heavy favorite in the shot put coming in with a best near 40 feet, but ended up receiving a slight challenge from Gar-Field's Amber Crocker in the Northwest Region competition. Watkins won with a toss of 38'7.75", but Crocker was not far behind in second at 38'3".
Hopefully after their team performance at the Northwest Region Meet, the Mountain View boys will start to get more respect as a team than simply the school that Footlocker Finalist and sophomore distance phenom Thomas Porter happens to run for. Many of their points were generated outside of Porter and the distance races on Friday.
Mountain View junior Olu Olamigoke had two outstanding performances in the jumping events by posting the top mark in the triple jump with a winning leap of 44'6", while finishing a close second to teammate Cedric Hudson in the long jump as both Mountain View jumpers hit personal best marks at 22'5.75" for Hudson and 22'5" for Olamigoke.
Teammate De'Shun Whitaker picked up nine points himself with a fifth place finish in the high jump and fourth place showing in the finals of the 55 meter hurdles.
The performances by Olamigoke, Hudson, and Whitaker set up the distance crew perfectly to put the icing on the cake and distance themselves from other team challengers. Porter did his part in winning both the 1600 and 3200 meter races in times of 4:24.36 and 9:51.52 respectively. The Mountain View sophomore was actually given a decent challenge in the 1600 meter run by E.C. Glass junior Nathan Richards, who nearly missed the start of the race. Luckily for Richards and the spectators, they held up the race for him in time to lace up spikes to make for a more exciting race than expected as Richards challenged Porter for the lead in the later stages of the race. Porter would pull away at the end though with Richards settling for second in 4:26.80.
If it was not for a late charge to the line by Patrick Henry's Ian Robinson, Mountain View may have swept the top three places in the 3200 meter run behind race winner Porter as junior twins Alex and Chris Brown came through with big personal best races of 9:56.64 and 9:56.69 to finish right together with Robinson (2nd, 9:56.61) in third and fourth place respectively. With the 21 points from the 3200 meter run, Mountain View had sealed their first Northwest Region indoor title as defending champs E.C. Glass had been challenging up until that point.
E.C. Glass ended up just about 21 points behind Mountain View with 65.50 points as they had several athletes step up with strong performances including the runner-up run from Richards in the 1600. It was no surprise that junior Daniel Inge won the pole vault with a clearance at 14'6" as next week's favorite for the AAA state crown. Inge had several good attempts at his next height of 15'1" as he attempted to break the 16 year old meet record of 15'0".
With top seed De'Shun Whitaker of Mountain View having an off day from 6'4" season best in the high jump as Whitaker went out of the competition after clearing 6 feet, E.C. Glass senior Josh Rose took advantage with a clearance of 6'2" as the only competitor to go higher than 6 feet as he was the Hilltoppers' second regional champion of the meet out of the field events.
E.C. Glass nearly had a third winner in the field events with Markus Copeland finishing a close to second to Halifax County's Corey Jackson (48'5.50") in the shot put competition with a best throw of 48'2".
The Forest Park boys were impressive in a solo 8:06.37 effort in the 4x800 meter relay as they will be the top seed and one of the favorite's in Friday night's race at the AAA State Meet in Fairfax with their 8:00 season best from Virginia Tech. Colonial Forge boys made it to the state meet by the hard way out of the slow section to finish second overall with their 8:13.79 section win.
Anchor legs for both Forest Park and Colonial's 4x800 meter relays would return later to compete in the 1000 meter run with Blake Arnold from Colonial Forge and Zack Williams from Forest Park. Arnold looked to be in control of the race as leader throughout much of the race and still had some breathing room on Williams on the backstretch of the bell lap as both competitors were moving quickly in the final 200 meters of the race after hitting the 800 meter mark in 2:06. However, Williams gained on the final curve and swung to the outside on the final stretch and was able to outlean Arnold to the line with the closest finish of the meet with only one hundredth of a second separating the two. Williams was clocked at 2:35.51 with Arnold right there as well at 2:35.52.
Battlefield senior Michael Nkwanga joined Thomas Porter as the only other competitor to win more than one event in the running events. However, Nkwanga's two wins came even more impressively as he was in the fast section for neither of his two first place finishes in the 500 and 300 meter dash. In section five of six in the 300 meter dash, Nkwanga's winning time of 35.98 was fourth hundredths of a second better than Potomac Senior's Brice Matthews (36.02) from the top section and was over an half second improvement for the Battlefield senior from his previous best in the event.
Earlier in the meet, the top two times for the 500 meter dash both came from slower sections with section five (of six) winner Nkwanga posting the best time of the meet at 1:06.98 for his first of two regional titles of the meet and Albemarle's Chris Best, winner of section four, took regional runner-up honors at 1:07.01.
The finals of the 55 meter dash were simply smoking. One could have mistaken themselves at being at the Eastern Region Meet looking at the times as three sprinters were well under 6.50 with Patrick Henry Joseph Mesadeau claiming the regional title in a 6.41 clocking. Halifax County senior Patrick Terry and Stonewall Jackson sophomore Damien Thigpen both clocked the same time of 6.44 with Terry in second and Thigpen in third. Thigpen and the Stonewall Jackson team had quite an eventful day as their bus took them to Liberty High School in Bealton, near the home of the state cross country meet at Great Meadow, when the regional meet was about to start on the other side of the state in Lynchburg. Meet management allowed the running events to be delayed to give Thigpen and the Stonewall Jackson team time to scramble down to Liberty University.
While the 1000 meter run had plenty of drama as to who had won in the photo finish, there was no problem for the naked eye to determine the regional champion in the 55 meter hurdles as Culpeper senior Jeff Ferris blew out the competition in the finals with a personal best clocking of 7.56. Ferris ended up improving his previous best (7.84) by nearly three tenths of a second at the regional meet, which is quite considerable in an event as short as the 55 meter hurdles.
The Potomac Senior boys ruled the sprint relays similar to how the Osbourn Park girls had done in the 4x200 and 4x400 meter relays. Top seeds in both races, the Potomac boys had no letdown performances with a 1:32,31 win in the 4x200 and had the fastest clocking in the 4x400 at 3:28.98.