Move over Eleanor Roosevelt...its Landstown and Wesh's turn to shine (in pink)!
(All photos by John Herzog)
It was a solid first day for the Virginians at the Nike Indoor Nationals. Two great anchor legs by Marlena Wesh on the Landstown girls 4x200 meter relay and Tyler Stutzman on the Western Albemarle boys DMR gave both their schools a national championship each.
Landstown girls overcame a big deficit put on by the Eleanor Roosevelt girls front loading with their best on their first two legs with Landstown coming back into the race with their third leg Cierra McGee and then Wesh running down the Roosevelt anchor in a thrilling win at 1:40.08. The entire relay event was a complete VA dominance with four All-American top six finishing relays and section winners in all five sections with Grassfield (3rd, 1:42.34), Osbourn Park (5th, 1:43.60), and Booker T. Washington (6th, 1:30.85) all sharing the podium with the national champions from Landstown.
Kyle Satterwhite and Nick Ward built Western Albemarle a lead in the DMR on the 1200 and 400 meter legs, but Tyler Stutzman received the baton roughly four seconds down against an All-American 5K runner in Neal Darmody of Quince Orchard. Stutzman did not panic and instead ran one of the most comfortable looking 4:17 splits to roll past Darmody and bring home a national title for the boys from Crozet in 10:25.73. Western Albemarle was not the only Charlottesville area school earning All-American honors as Albemarle (10:42.31) snuck into sixth place despite not having a sub 4:30 1600 meter anchor leg. Thomas Edison also finished in the top six in third place at 10:34.23.
David Wilson of George Washington was the lone individual champion from the state on Saturday in Landover. With a personal best leap of 49'9" on his second attempt, Wilson put the pressure on favorite and top seed Omar Craddock of Texas, who failed to make the finals. Rex Parker of Battlefield was more of surprise than Wilson's win to pull in a top six finish and ahead of several other Virginians to crack into the top six with a mark of 47'11.25".
As expected, Brayden Burleigh dominated the freshmen mile run from start to finish as the Midlothian's young distance star led from wire to wire in a 4:31.21 victory.
Javell Bullard of Bethel and Marlena Wesh of Landstown both have leading times out of preliminary action going into Sunday's sprint finals. Bullard ran the fastest prelim time in the boys' 400 meter dash at 49.43, while his close runner-up from the 500 at the state meet in Taylor Sykes of Great Beach will be the top seed in the slower section of two (with four finalists in each race) at 49.98. Marlena Wesh kept the momentum from her great anchor in the 4x200 in her heat of the 200 meter dash with the fastest clocking at 24.56.
The Blacksburg girls have aspired to elevate their distance program to the same level of the Midlothian girls, who been dominant on the state level over the past few years and faired well on the national stage as well. In the 4xmile relay at Nike Indoors, the Blacksburg girls were able to say they were better than the Midlothian girls for at least one race and big moment for their program as Laurel MacMillan ran down Midlothian's anchor leg Paige Johnston to put her team in second place behind Saratoga Springs of New York. Virginia had two of the top three relays in the event with Blacksburg in second at 21:03.22 and Midlothian in third at 21:05.73.
Two of Midlothian's legs were running on very tired legs though with the Lautzenheiser twins, Kathleen and Leia, running the 25 lap event of the 5000 meter run on Saturday. Anna Shields of Connecticut ran away with the win from the gun, while Kathleen Lautzenheiser took a more conservative approach before working herself up into second and then ending up third in a close finish with Kentucky's top distance runner Mary Grace Pellegrini in a time of 17:48.77. Chantilly junior Lia DiValentin was also under 18 minutes and an All-American finisher in the 5K with a fourth place effort of 17:57.31.
Three Virginians earned All-American honors in the girls' triple jump. Ermesha Fair of Western Branch led the group with a third place mark of 39'0.25", while freshmen Nefertiti Smith of Collegiate picked up her first of eventual two top six finishes in the jumping events at NIN with a fourth place leap of 38'8.25". AAA state champion Jasia Richardson rounded out the top six on the podium with a mark of 38'0.25" for the J.R. Tucker junior.
William & Mary recruit Natalie Baird of Park View showed promise for a future event in which she will definitely compete in next year for the Tribe with an All-American fifth place showing in the weight throw at Nike Indoor. Baird threw over 50 feet with her mark of 51'2.75" in an event which is tough for the Park View senior to find meets prior to nationals to compete in.
Brian Zitterkopf of Fork Union finished well back in the field in the pentathlon at last year's Nike Indoor Nationals. Zitterkopf was ready for a much better showing this time around as he placed fourth overall with a total of 3318 points. Zitterkopf picked up significant points in the 60 meter hurdles (8.84) and high jump (6'5.50").
A strong sub 4:30 opening leg by Chris Brown and 4:22 anchor by Thomas Porter pushed Mountain View into the top six of the 4xmile relay with a fifth place time of 18:11.42.
With three sophomores and one senior, the youth came through for the Manchester girls as they edged out a Western Branch shuttle hurdle relay which included two of the state's best in Jessie Gaines and Ermesha Fair to win their section and finish second overall as national runner-ups at 34.71.
Johns Ross of The Potomac School and Tim Smith of Cave Spring both broke 15:30 indoors for 5K to finish fourth (15:23.85) and sixth (15:29.71) respectively as All-Americans. Smith, a signee to the University of Richmond, added his first All-American honor to his first state title two weeks ago in the 3200 meter run.
Nansemond River nearly became the first team in the state to break 1:30 on a flat track indoors this season from Virginia as James Taylor anchored the state champion relay to a third place finish at 1:30.03. Eastern Region schools Green Run (5th, 1:30.54) and Western Branch (6th, 1:30.85) also made their way onto the All-American podium. Kevin Newsome and Jeffrey Artis were All-Americans in two relays on day one including the shuttle hurdle relay (5th, 31.64).
More to come from NIN including highlights, photos, and videos.
Nike National Champions in Saturday's events from Virginia:
- David Wilson (George Washington) - Boys Triple Jump - 49-9
- Brayden Burleigh (Midlothian) - Freshmen Boys Mile - 4:31.21
- Landstown - Girls 4x200 - 1:40.08
- Western Albemarle - Boys DMR - 10:25.73
Nike All-Americans in Saturday's events from Virginia:
- Blacksburg - Girls 4xMile - 2nd, 21:03.22
- Manchester - Girls Shuttle Hurdle- 2nd, 34.71
- Ermesha Fair (Western Branch) - Girls Triple Jump - 3rd, 39-0.25
- Kathleen Lautzenheiser (Midlothian) - Girls 5K - 3rd, 17:48.77
- Grassfield - Girls 4x200 - 3rd, 1:42.34
- Midlothian - Girls 4xMile - 3rd, 21:05.73
- Nansemond River - Boys 4x200 - 3rd, 1:30.03
- Thomas Edison - Boys DMR - 3rd, 10:34.23
- Western Branch - Girls Shuttle Hurdle- 3rd, 34.74
- Lia DiValentin (Chantilly) - Girls 5K - 4th, 17:57.31
- George Carter (Blacksburg) - Freshmen Boys Mile - 4th, 4:37.61
- Nefertiti Smith (Norfolk Collegiate) - Girls Triple Jump - 4th, 38-8.25
- Johns Ross (The Potomac School) - Boys 5K - 4th, 15:23.85
- Brian Zitterkopf (Fork Union) - Boys Pentathlon - 4th, 3318 pts
- Natalie Baird (Park View) - Girls Weight Throw - 5th, 51-2.75
- Green Run - Boys 4x200 - 5th, 1:30.54
- Midlothian - Girls 4xMile - 5th, 12:25.68
- Mountain View - Boys 4xMile - 5th, 18:11.42
- Osbourn Park - Girls 4x200 - 5th, 1:43.60
- Osbourn Park - Girls SMR - 5th, 4:10.81
- Western Branch - Boys Shuttle Hurdle Relay - 5th, 31.64
- Rex Parker (Battlefield) - Boys Triple Jump - 6th, 47-11.25
- Jasia Richardson (J.R. Tucker) - Girls Triple Jump - 6th, 38-0.25
- Tim Smith (Cave Spring) - Boys 5K - 6th, 15:29.71
- Albemarle - Boys DMR - 6th, 10:42.31
- Booker T. Washington - Girls 4x200 - 6th, 1:43.93
- Western Branch - Boys 4x200 - 6th, 1:30.85