It was a day of triples at Saturday's 4A state final at Liberty University, at least where the girls were concerned.
Three athletes won three events over the weekend to turn the female Class 4 point standings into a jumbled bag of numbers from positions 2 through 10. In the end, however, it was Blacksburg, who scored 34 points by noon on Saturday, that held on to win the championship, narrowly defeating Loudoun Valley 53-49.
The swing event was the 3200, held on Saturday morning, just after the events delayed from Friday's thunderstorm were completed. The Bruins' Kaitlynn Wolfe (10:49.03) and Ailene Edwards (11:02.18) placed 1-2 to give Blacksburg 18 key points. For Loudoun Valley, Ricky Fetteroff (11:07.37) and Julia Ames (11:11.54) scored, and their 4-5 finish gave the Vikings nine points. Millbrook's Sophie Edlich split the gap, placing third. But with Blacksburg gaining nine points on their Loudoun rivals, in a close race, the stage was set for a wire-to-wire team win.
But the story in Class 4 girls came from the triad of individual performances.
Handley's Taylor Beard swept the jumps, winning the high (5-8), long (18-11.25) and triple (39-3.5) events to give the Judges 30 points, as the team from Winchester finished tied with Hanover for fifth at 38 points.
Churchland was also high in the team standings, placing fourth with 44 points. Layla Anderson was instrumental for the Truckers as the sophomore sensation won the 100 (12.05), 200 (25.20) and 100-meter hurdles (14.90). On Sunday, she expressed relief that she was able to finish strong.
"Feeling lucky," said Anderson, who won five state titles in her first year of public high school, having transferred from Bishop Sullivan. "I thought I blew that 200." Warhill's Jacqueline Jones placed second in that race, just .10 seconds behind.
Senior Ameya Williams won the shot-put for Churchland, with a throw of 41-2.5.
But it was the third triple win that may have been the most unusual, as Grace Boone of Pulaski County pulled off the rarest of feats, winning the 1600, 400, and 800, all within the middle of meet events on Saturday. In fact, the final two races were divided by only a single event, the 300-meter hurdles.
It is believed that Boone's triple conquest (1600, 400, 800) was the first such in VHSL state meet history.
After the 800-meter win, in 2:11.48, Boone was happy to talk about her feat as she walked briskly toward an ice bath, which was being set up in the concourse of the neighboring football stadium.
"It was my coach's idea," said the Virginia Tech-bound senior when asked who thought of completing this rare triple. She tried it once, at the Cosmopolitan Invitational, before the state meet. "He just wanted to see if I could do it," continued Boone, emphasizing the word DO. At Cosmopolitan, Boone won all three events, albeit in considerably slower times than Saturday's.
Midlothian, powered by 19 relay points, and the hurdling and jumping of Erin Babashak, placed third with 47 points.
Other 4A girls' winners from Saturday:
Akeila Edwards - Chancellor (300 hurdles - 44.75)
Gracie Jauch - Jefferson Forest (Pole vault - 12-6)
Warhill (Jordan Barrett, Niyah Ward, Aiyanna Morning, J. Jones) - 4x100 relay - 48.63
Grafton (Nyah Chisholm, Allison Kenney, Madison Greene, Alexandra Dunbar) - 4x400 relay - 3:59.59.
The boys' side was more predictable as Loudoun Valley opened up a huge lead after the 3200 and ran away with the team title.
Mired in second place with 10 points, the Vikings, led by victor Carlos Shultz (9:19.94), rattled off the first seven places in the day's first scheduled running event, and the 38 points put LV ahead of their nearest competitor by a comfortable 48-11 margin. Jacob Windle's 4:18.70 win in the 1600 capped a 1-4-5-6-7 run for Valley and the 24 additional points were all the Vikings needed to secure the team championship. The Vikings finished the day with 87 points.
Blacksburg crept up in the standings throughout the day and finished second with 54 points, followed by Churchland with 51. The Bruins were led by Tiquest Terry's win in the 100 (11.08), and the 4x100 relay of Terry, Cole Dunlap, Thomas Coffey and David Quesenberry, who also won in 42.20.
The Truckers only individual win on Saturday came from Da'Quan Felton, who captured the 300 hurdles in 38.82. However, Churchland was in the thick of many races, including the final one, the boys 4x400, which it narrowly lost to Grafton despite a clocking of 3:20.48.
In the day's featured individual race, Theo Woods of E.C. Glass held off Loudoun Valley's Sam Affolder to break the tape at 1:51.98. Affolder finished in 1:52.21.
Other 4A boys' winners from Saturday:
Matthew Spicer - Courtland (200 - 21.61)
Patrick Atwell - Fauquier (400 - 47.66)
Jeremiah Wilson - Salem (110 high hurdles - 14.80)
Jalen Jones - Deep Creek (Long jump - 21-6.5)
Grafton (Kai Hawk, Dallin Carson, Brandon Boivin, Jeremiah Zellander) - 4x400 relay - 3:20.33.