To reach Holston High School, one almost has to traverse the entire state of Virginia, if traveling from the north or the east. One good way to visit Holston is to plan a trip to Tennessee, as the drive down Rte. 81 will reach Abingdon, Virginia just 15 miles before reaching the state border. Once in Abingdon (2010 population - 8,191), it should be easier to find Holston, if you know the turnoff for Damascus, VA (pop. 814). Hint - head southeast down Rte. 58!
Jordan Keith knows the region well; in fact, on Friday, the Cavalier junior etched his name into the VHSL state history books, and for this weekend, became its most famous resident, with a victory in the Class 1 boys' championship at Great Meadow. Keith's time of 16:15 was good enough to best Perry McCluer's Dylan May, and Mathews' freshman Cameron Stearns, by 13 seconds.
Fortunately, for Keith, he had no idea of his pre-race status, as the junior, who placed third in last year's event, entered the race as the top seed with a best time of 15:59.
"I was quite a bit surprised (to win)," said Keith, who then added that he had no idea about the pre-race prediction. "I didn't know I was seeded, actually I didn't know they did that. But I came here to win and didn't care about the time."
As May was last year's runner-up, Keith mapped out a conservative race strategy. "I wanted to pace off him," said the victor, "and use my 800 speed (2:01.6) to kick past him at the end of the race."
The opportunity came just after the last turn for home. "I kicked around the tree, and slowly progressed, all the way to the finish." Keith truly found an extra gear as his 13-second winning edge all came from his surge over the final 600 meters.
Like his winning counterpart, Morgan Dalton from George Wythe, Keith is a novice to the Great Meadow course. "It was only my second time running it." His unfamiliarity with Northern Virginia courses may be counterbalanced by the extra training he gets from running on the hilly roads around Damascus, which is down the road from Mt. Rogers, Virginia's highest elevation point.
"(Running on hills) helps a lot with my endurance," said the Cavalier. "I like the momentum they give me." On the relatively flat Meadow course, it was necessary for Keith to develop a Plan B, hence the final surge.
Auburn completed the Class 1 team sweep, joining the girls as team champions, by placing Adam Downs (7th), freshman Andy Vaughan (8th), Peyton Hurd (10th), Jacob Hurd (17th), and Chris Neal (33rd) in their top five.