Dogwood meet becoming a true Virginian "Classic" again

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- The 2001 Dogwood Track Classic was just the second year it has been run since its rebirth last year after a 10 year absence from the glory days of the Dogwood Track Classic in the 80's. After this year's meet and the performances that came with it, the Dogwood Track Classic looks to make its way back to the top as the elitest meet in the state. This year meet which was co-directed by Mark Lorenzoni (Ragged Mountain Running Shop owner) and Cherie Witt (Western Albermarle HS coach) drawed in 43 teams with many teams all over the state as well as around the nation as Londonberry HS of Vermont made a long trip down to Charlottesville. With the meet bringing together some of the top teams and athletes in the state, some of the best times and marks in the state were produced.

In the girls' team race, Oakton was able to hold off a strong AA team in Jefferson Forest as Oakton amassed a total of 83 points to Jefferson Forest's 78. Oddly enough, Oakton had only one individual/relay winner with Bonnie Meekins in the high jump (5'4"). Meekins did a lot of traveling this weekend as she finished 3rd in the high jump at the Penn Relays the day before.

The Jefferson Forest girls showed they are very strong team, as being just a little AA small school, they are able to compete with AAA's best teams.

The main reason for Jefferson Forest success is Ebony Foster. Foster was by far the top female athlete at the meet. She was able to contribute herself 35 points to her team. She was a double winner in the 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash with times of 12.35 and 25.23 respectively. She was also the anchor leg of her 5th place finishing 4x400 squad and placed 2nd in the long jump (18'08.50") and 6th in the triple jump (35'08").

National indoor champion in the 800, Nicole Cook of Petersburg ran the tough double of the 800 meter run and 400 meter dash, yet she did it in impressive winning fashion with times of 57.16 2:15.32.

Amy Seward of Salem dominated the horizontal jumps with wins in both the long jump (19'00.50") and triple jump (39'03.50")

The Petersburg boys' squad a.k.a. Jerome Mathis & Company were on their "A" game as they won easily with their total of 75 points over second place Oscar Smith with 53 points.

The Petersburg track star, Mathis, was the showstopper at the meet as he racked up 4 individual titles as well as the spikes that come along with the titles. Mathis dusted off the competition in the sprints with wins in the 100 meter dash (10.93) and 200 meter dash (21.62). He then went onto to rule the jumping events as he was a winner in the high jump (6'6") and long jump (22'9"). His great range and versatility gives Petersburg a shot to make a run at the state title in June.

Matt Maline also had a busy weekend like teammate Bonnie Meekins as on Friday, Maline finished 8th in the mile at the Penn Relays with a time of 4:20 to come back and win the 800 meter run at Dogwood Track Classic in 1:58.14. He was just able to hold off a hard charging Steve Carlson of Louisa who finished just .20 ticks behind Maline.

The boys' 1600 meter race was a very strategic and odd race as the lead pack led by Stuarts Draft senior Evan Kays went out slow in a 67-68 first lap. Jamestown junior Bryce Ruiz got gutsy and tried to break up this slow pace and made a move to the front to work the middle laps. However, the slow first lap still made it into a kicker's race as Tallwood sophomore Alex Clayton had the most superior kick, winning in a time of 4:20.64. Kempsville senior Jeff Hedley finished strong for 2nd to come in at a time of 4:22.94, then followed by Kays at 4:23.84 and Ruiz at 4:26.74.

The boys 3200 was shaping up to be one of the best races of the day as Ocean Lakes junior Matt Keally, Ruiz, and Louisa County sophomore Daniel Kane were all entered. A Keally and Ruiz race was a race many had to waited to see for a long time, as both being juniors, having run very similar times the past two years, yet never actually squaring off in the same race before. The two runners were able to provide the fans on hand a great race. Ruiz was the aggressive at the beginning as he took the lead from the gun and set the pace as he, Keally, and Kane blistered a 4:40 first mile. Keally then took the lead from Ruiz after the 800 mark and it looked as if Ruiz were giving up the lead to Keally and saving up for a good bell lap kick. However, Keally started to separate himself on the bell lap and secured his win crossing the line a time of 9:19.04. Along this time will the focus had been on Ruiz and Keally battling it out, Daniel Kane made a strong move on the final lap to position himself to come up on Ruiz's shoulder on the final turn then started to attempt to pass Ruiz. Ruiz tried to fend Kane off, but being the pace setter througout the race had taken its toll on Ruiz as Kane was able to pass a fading Ruiz the last 50 meters as both ran new personal bests of 9:21.84 and 9:24.34.