VHSL Group AAA State Meet Boys Preview by Pearl Watts

  Last year's chase for the boys team title resulted in E.C. Glass winning a relatively low scoring affair among the top teams with 33 points.

  This year, it appears that it may take at least 40 points to win it all, with Western Branch and Manchester probably having the best chances to top that number.

  However, stranger things have happened, come state meet time; and with the unpredictability of relay events and the ability of some teams to pile up enough points with just a couple of high scoring individuals, this year's boys meet also appears wide open.


Field Events:

  The boys long jump could certainly be one of the swing events of the meet with the top seven placers from last year having graduated and with less than a foot separating the top fourteen seeds this year.

  Highland Springs senior Rashaad Cannon comes in with the best mark thus far this season and was the Central Region champ at 22 feet, six inches. Western Branch sophomore Kelvin Griffin had the top mark from all of the regional championship meets at 22-9.5 and Lakeland's Predist Walker along with Mountain View's Cedric Hudson should also be factors.

  The triple jump could also be a huge swing event for schools with team title aspirations. Western Branch went 1-2 at the Eastern Region meet with sophomores Jeffrey Artis and Kelvin Griffin and Mountain View's Olu Olamigoke was the Northwest winner.

  Manchester's Antonio Miiller comes in as the top seed and is the defending champion outdoors, although he was beaten at the Central Region meet by J.R. Tucker senior Marcus Robinson, who had the top mark among all competitors last week at 47-10.5.

  The high jump has the Eastern Region with the strongest contingent. Indian River senior Dennis James went 6-7 last week to win over Hickory senior Kevin Nichols, who also went 6-7 and finished third at the indoor meet last year with a height of 6-8.

  Lakeland junior Chris Copeland has also been fairly consistent this year and Kelvin Griffin will be looking to score some additional points for Western Branch in the event.

  The Eastern Region also brings in the top performers in the shot put. Oscar Smith's Frede Spellman moved among the elite a couple of weeks ago with a huge toss of 61-11.5.

  Spellman then came back at the regional meet to win with another big effort of 59-8. That mark was just good enough to finish ahead of Denbigh's Jaymes Brooks who posted his best mark of the season at 59-5.5 while Western Branch senior Darien Kearney improved his seasonal best by almost three feet in finishing third at 56-3.

  E.C. Glass junior Daniel Inge has shown vast improvement this year in the pole vault. Inge won the Northwest at 14-6 and also went 15-0 earlier in the season. His main competition looks to be from Eastern champ Rodriguez Johnson of Denbigh and Central winning sophomore Matt Armentrout of Deep Run.


Individual Running Events:

  Seniors Predist Walker of Lakeland and Matoaca's Aramis Massenburg look like they are headed for a big machup in the 55 hurdles. Hard to pick between Walker and Massenburg as they are very close to each other in seasonal bests and also with their winning regional meet times.

  Northwest winner Jeff Ferris of Culpeper County along with Highland Springs senior Adams Abdulrazaaq are also strong bets to make the fastest seeded section for the hurdle finals.

  The 55 dash will be the first event in R.E. Lee (Springfield) senior Sean Holston's attempt to capture the 55-500-300 meter sprint triple.

  Holston was third last year in 6.45 after posting the fastest time in the trials of 6.37. Holston easily won the 55 dash at the Northern Region meet last Saturday in 6.40 but a victory in the shortest sprint in the meet is certainly not a given, with plenty of competitors capable of pulling off a mild upset.

  I.C. Norcom's Isiah Gyasi won the Eastern dash title at 6.41 and Patrick Henry (Roanoke) senior Joseph Mesadeu matched Gyasi's time of 6.41 in winning the Northwest.

  Throw in Stonewall Jackson sophomore Damien Thigpen and Halifax County senior Patrick Terry, both of whom sped 6.44 last week along with Central winner Anthony Chesson of Manchester (6.45), and we have a marquee matchup looming.

  West Springfield senior Mike Spooner is the solid favorite in the 1,600 run, but if he does not try to end the suspense early and looks to save some energy for the 3,200 run later in the day, about a half dozen strong finishers led by Herndon's Ermin Mujezinovic will look to fill the void.

  No matter what happens in the 55 dash, Sean Holston of Lee will be the consensus choice in the 500 dash. Holston posted a glittering time of 1:03.45 to move to # 7 all time on the U.S. high school list and obviously appears to have both the speed and strength to stifle any challenges.

  The 500 is a strong event in the state this year, as besides Holston, five other runners have gone below 1:06 already this season, led by Westfield sophomore Matt Anderson and Hugueont senior Donnie Seward.

  The 1,000 run looks to be a case as to whoever wants it most will take it, as eleven runners come in with their seasonal best times less than 2.5 seconds from each other.

  South County senior Jeff Miller has the fastest time among the group after winning the Northern Region title in 2:33.48 over West Springfield senior Leo Walker. Washington-Lee senior Chris Tyson will be fresh for the race and has to be considered among the favorites; Thomas Jefferson S&T senior Taylor Bostick is the defending champion and also dangerous in the field are junior Zack Williams of Forest Park and seniors Kieran Lee of Hermitage, Manchester's Andrew Duty and Blake Arnold of Colonial Forge.

  The 300 dash poses the possibility of Sean Holston of Lee looking for his third victory of the meet. If Holston survives the 55 dash and is able to save enough stamina from the 500 dash for the 300 dash, he is certainly the prohibitive favorite after completing the same winning triple at the Northern Region meet last week.

  Holston has a best of 33.21 this season, which he accomplished on the very fast banked track at the Armory in New York City and would it be asking too much to have him bring down the meet record of 33.78 set by Tony Wheeler of Kekoughtan in 1993.

  Besides Holston in the race, there are plenty of team title implications with Western Branch having Daniel Nix and Kelvin Griffin while Manchester has Anthony Chesson, with Thomas Speller of Indian River also a factor.

  Mike Spooner of West Springfield would be most people's choice in the 3,200 run after posting the fastest AAA time of the season in setting a new regional meet record of 9:13.21.

  It will be no gimme however, with last year's runnerup Jason Witt of Midlothian ready to give chase along with a fresh Brad Kenimer of T.C. Williams, Mountain View sophomore Thomas Porter and R.E. Lee senior Josef Tessema ready to add possible valuable team points for the Lancers.



  Forest Park's 4x800 relay squad comes in with the top time by more than seven seconds and have a very strong anchor in Zack Williams. Oakton has put up solid marks in its last two races and won the Northern title last week. Robinson is the defending state champ indoors and is anchored by vastly improved senior Dan McHale. Thomas Jefferson is always near the top in this race and West Springfield cannot be counted out because of Leo Walker and Mike Spooner.

  The 4x200 is usually about who survives the first handoff and gets through the ensuing first curve in the lead...provided they can then successfully complete the following two baton exchanges.

  This race is huge, to say the least, for the top two seeded teams from Manchester and Western Branch.

  Teams from Bethel and Potomac will also look to have a say in the race and there are always very strong placings from whichever teams can get a quick lead and smooth sailing in sections other than the fastest seeded section.


  If the team title picture is not cleared up before the 4x400 relay, everyone may see why that race is always the last race of the meet.

  Deep Creek and top seeded Bethel had a very close race at the Eastern Region meet with Deep Creek prevailing. Western Branch and Manchester are also in the fastest seeded section to possibly add a little drama while Northern champion Westfield looks to play the spoiler.