JHW Pt. 1: One Mega-Program Changed Our Sport 41 Years Ago


There are few schools in the state of Virginia that have ever achieved what the one school did in just a few short years. That school or should we say schools is Jefferson-Huguenot-Wythe (JHW) in Richmond, VA. That school made history in more than one way and is the centerpiece of our seven part series featuring national records, historic coaches, and all the history revolving around this mega-school that only lasted from 1980-1986. 


JHW Part 1: 41 Years Ago, Richmond's Lack Of Funds Helped Change Our Sport

The more you look at things the more you realize how they are all connected and can cause ripples that are felt for decades to come. JHW definitely fits that build. 

So what was JHW? Think of the movie Remember The Titans. That is essentially what JHW was. It was a combination of three city schools; Thomas Jefferson, Huguenot, and George Wythe to create one short lived mega-school. How it worked was students attended different campuses for different programs and combined classes to make the entire system more financially viable. Students from all three schools though, competed in athletics as a part of one single school, JHW. 

The whole creation of JHW is a story in its own right as well. After decades of fights for segregation and fights against or for bussing the city of Richmond had a few issues on its hand. One, that still largely exists today, where families move away for "better" schools or choose to go to private schools instead. This has lead to not only Richmond City Public Schools but the entire city government lagging behind its neighbors of Henrico and Chesterfield County. 

Thru many of the above reasons and quite a few others, the city of Richmond lacked the funds and enrollment to maintain its seven public high schools. That ultimately lead to what was called "Plan G" and saw the seven high schools become three. They were Marshall-Walker a combination of John Marshall and Maggie Walker, Armstrong-Kennedy which combined Armstrong and John F Kennedy, and finally you had JHW which combined the two schools south of the James River and the furthest west school. 

They combined to become the JHW Trojans and though the school only existed for seven years, they were able to amass six state team titles, six state runner-up finishes, and 14 state records. You really cannot overstate how dominant this school was. You couldn't list all their state champions either because frankly there are too many to list. 

This school and its programs changed a lot in Virginia. They pushed records further, they broke barriers and helped create legends that still stand today. 

Further in this series we will discuss one of their legendary coaches who is still coaching today and two of the biggest stars from JHW. Aside from them and our other features there are some athletes who should be noted from JHW to give you insight into what some of their "lesser known" stars did. 

First you have Demarch Robertson who would ultimately dip below 10:40 in the 3200 indoors. She unfortunately came into high school at the wrong time and was a three-time state runner-up in XC to national champion Erin Keogh (Langley) twice and record-setter Andrea Volpe (Lake Braddock) once. 

Then you have an athlete like Cullen Mattox who was VA's first sub 2:30 runner in the 1K and would ultimately run 1:51 for the 800. He helped set three state records for the Trojans in just their first year as a school. 

Walter Lanier was another name, he set the state record in the long jump alongside his teammate Keith Young who both became VA's first athletes to jump 24' indoors. Keith was also VA's best high jumper ever clearing 6'11.25" in the high to break that record as well. 

Towanda Hammond is another name, she was the second woman to break 8 seconds in the 55mH. As you can see the list could go on forever. So instead of listing every athlete here are the school records we could find for JHW from 1980-1986. 


Boys School RecordsGirls School Records
55m Dash6.17**6.94*
100m Dash10.5011.71
200m Dash21.7823.50*
300m Dash--39.54*
400m Dash----
500m Dash----
800m Run1:51.00*--
1000m Run2:29.44*--
1600m Run4:12.3--
3200m Run--10:39.4*
55m Hurdles--7.98
100m Hurdles--14.00
300m Hurdles----
4x100m Relay--46.36*
4x200m Relay----
4x400m Relay--3:48.10*
4x800m Relay7:43.5*--
Long Jump24'1"*20' 6.5"*
High Jump7' 0.75"*--
Triple Jump----
Pole Vault15'3"*--
Shot Put----
*Performances that were state records at the time
** State record today


To get you excited for what is is to come these next few weeks, here are the titles of each part of this series. 

Pt. 1: 41 Years Ago, Richmond City's Lack of Funds Helped Change Our Sport
Pt. 2: The Coach
Pt. 3: Dawn Sowell, The Woman Who Went 10.78
Pt. 4: Martin Smith, The Fastest Man In VA History 
Pt. 5: Barriers Are Meant To Be Broken
Pt. 6: The Longest Streak In The United States
Pt. 7: 1987: The Sand Castle Gets Torn Down