ATHLETE & SPRINTER OF THE YEAR...LASHAWN MERRITT (WOODROW WILSON HS, SRThe last Virginia high school prep to compete at such a dominant level on the national stage as Lashawn Merritt this past spring was none other than Olympic Trials champion and Athens Olympic Games bound Alan Webb. However, even Webb could not lay the claim of dominance that Merritt now has over the world scene.
Unlike Webb, who was known as one of the nation\'s premier middle distance runners early into his high school career, Merritt was a late bloomer. A surprising state champion in the 400 meters junior year in his junior year with a 47.67 season best, hardly anyone could have expected the success he found this year at the state, national, and world level.
Merritt set himself up for a great spring in the indoor season by winning three individual state titles (55m, 300m, and 500m) as well as two national titles in the 200 meter and 400 meter dashes at the Nike Indoor Championships. While the 400 meter dash is clearly his specialty, Merritt was able to run very swift times at both 100 (10.38) and 200 meters (20.69) as both times ranked as state bests to go along with his state best in the 400. Merritt went into the AAA State Meet hoping to become only the third male sprinter in VHSL history to win the 100, 200, and 400 meter dashes at the state meet. Merritt accomplished the difficult feat with quite ease as he set two new state meet record in the 100 meter dash (10.47) as well as in the tail-end event of his triple, the 200 meter dash (21.13). Merritt also took another convincing state title win in 400 meter dash (47.69).
After conquering the state of Virginia, Merritt set upon to lay his claim as the top high school sprinter in the entire United States. At the adidas Outdoor Championships, Merritt took on the best high school preps in the country in the 200 and 400 meter dashes. Merritt repeated his performance from indoor nationals and took two more titles with a swift time of 20.80 in the 200 and a new personal best in the 400 of 45.38. The 400 time ranked him as the fastest in not only the country, but as well as among world juniors.
Thought Merritt was done? Guess again! Merritt decided to try his luck against the best juniors (19 or under, collegiates eligible) at the USATF Junior Nationals in College Station, Texas. Coincidentally, Merritt was having his birthday at the time of the meet and gave himself a pair of birthday gifts with two Junior Nationals titles in the 200 (20.72) and 400 (46.80). Not to mention, the greatest prize, Merritt\'s wins earned him the opportunity to compete for Team USA at the World Junior Championships in Italy last month.
Coming into Worlds with the fastest time in world among juniors for 400 meters (45.38), Merritt did not disappoint as he went through two rounds of competition still undefeated heading into the finals. In the finals, he put out his best effort yet as he clocked yet another personal best time in 45.24 to blow away the field and win the World Junior Championships title in the 400 meter dash. Merritt also gave back to Team USA in relay action at Worlds by running on the winning 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay squads. Merritt ran the second and fastest leg on the U.S. team\'s 4x400 meter relay with a smoking time of 44.8 as the U.S. team went onto win in a world juniors record breaking performance of 3:01.09.
Many ask who will be the next Webb in Virginia, many should start asking when will the next Lashawn Merrit arrived because it sure has been a pleasure to watch this gifted individual compete this past year.
Lashawn Merritt\'s Elite Performances
HS Outdoor 100m (00:10.38) 2004-05-01 Landstown Invitational 00:10.38 PR 2004-05-06 Loucks Games 00:10.43 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:10.47 HS Outdoor 200m (00:20.69) 2004-05-01 Landstown Invitational 00:20.69 PR 2004-05-06 Loucks Games 00:21.02 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:21.13 2004-06-18 adidas Outdoor Championships 00:20.80 2004-06-25 USATF Junior Nationals 00:20.72 HS Outdoor 400m (00:45.24) 2004-04-17 Morgan State Legacy Track Meet 00:45.88 2004-05-28 Eastern Region Meet 00:47.90 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:47.69 2004-06-18 adidas Outdoor Championships 00:45.38 2004-06-25 USATF Junior Nationals 00:46.80 2004-07-12 IAAF World Junior Championships 00:45.24 PR
HURDLERS OF THE YEAR...PHILIPPE TONDEREAU (WESTFIELD HS, SR)The toughest selection among the awards to give out because the 2004 outdoor track season was a very competitive year in the hurdling events with no one individual clearly dominating the rest heading into the state meet. However, with the performance by Westfield senior Philipe Tondereau at the end of the season and how his individual performance was so pivotal in his team\'s state title win, he was able to edge himself ahead of the rest. A decent 110 meter hurdler with a 14.81 personal best, Tondereau really shined at the longer hurdle event, the 300 meter hurdles. With 13 hurdlers having gone under 40 seconds during the season, anyone who pulled out the win at the AAA State Meet would have to be on their \"A\" game with such a competitive field. Tondereau proved to be the one who rose to occassion as he finished just ahead of twin brother Alvin (39.33) to win his first ever state crown with a 39.13 clocking as he helped his team dethrone Deep Creek as the boys\' team state champions. Tondereau was also a state leader in the 300 meter hurdles (38.43) and the 400 meter hurdles (54.17).
Philippe Tondereau\'s Elite Performances
HS Outdoor 110HH (00:14.81) 2004-04-17 Allen Johnson Invitational 00:15.09 2004-05-19 Concorde District Meet 00:15.19 2004-05-28 Northern Region Meet 00:14.81 PR HS Outdoor 300IH (00:38.37) 2004-04-02 Northern Virginia Invitational 00:38.73 2004-04-09 Arcadia Invitational 00:38.59 2004-04-17 Allen Johnson Invitational 00:39.70 2004-05-08 Victor Cahoon Track Classic 00:39.52 2004-05-19 Concorde District Meet 00:39.06 2004-05-28 Northern Region Meet 00:38.43 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 00:39.13 HS Outdoor 400IH (00:54.17) 2004-04-22 Penn Relays Carnival 00:54.17 PR 2004-06-18 adidas Outdoor Championships 00:54.66
Setting up for next year\'s battle for the top hurdler crown and possibly athlete of the year... Look out for Granby\'s Christopher Bell. Bell won the state title in the 110 meter hurdles and posted the state\'s best time of the season at 14.21, but was unable to compete in any post-season meets to prove his worth at the national level. Sound like a familiar story? Just like Merritt, the feeling is that Bell will explode once given the opportunity to compete on the national stage. Will be interesting to see also if he can become more of a complete hurdling package and perform well in the 300 meter hurdles.
DISTANCE RUNNER OF THE YEAR...CHRISTO LANDRY (THOMAS JEFFERSON S&T HS, SR)Senecca Lassiter, Sharif Karie, Alan Webb, Bobby Lockhart, and Christo Landry??? Yep, that\'s right. Christo Landry earned his way into becoming one of the best Virginia high school distance preps of all-time with his impressive performances and times this past spring. Since Landry\'s sophomore year, he had always been considered one of the top tier distance runners in the state, yet that first state title had eluded him going into his final season of track. However, the way in which he was running leading up to the state meet, showed he was ready to win the big one.
Landry kicked off his season running a swift state best time of 4:12.51 in the 1600 meter run at the Allen Johnson Invitational and would later drop his state best time down to 4:11.25 at the Northern Region Meet. With Southern Track Classic being cancelled for this year, Landry went north to find an elite meet to run a fast two mile and found such a meet at the Hartford Public Invitational in Connecticut. In Connecticut, Landry shockingly obliterated the 9 minute barrier with a time of 8:54.07 (8:50.67 for 3200 meters). The only Virginian in recent memory to have ran faster at the distance was none other than Alan Webb.
After getting the sub 9 monkey off his back, it was time for Landry to get the gorilla off now, his first state meet title. Landry opted to do the very tough 1600 and 3200 double at the state meet. A double win in the two events is usually quite a challenge considering the level of competition as well as the draining heat and humidity that is found at most state meets in June. In the 1600 meter run, a determined Landry dictated a brisk pace early on and found another gear on the bell lap with a 62 second lap to pull away from the field in a time of 4:13.39 to finally win that first state crown.
Landry could have easily could have shut it down for the day after his 1600 meter win and scratch from the 3200, but he had a score to settle with Hari Mix of Albemarle. Mix won his first state crown in the indoor states 3200 where he put on a devastating kick on Landry in the final laps to deny his bid for a state crown.
Mix set the pace for Landry and a pack of others as they went through 1600 meters in 4:45. Mix and Landry would break away to make it a two person race with a 2:19 for their next 800 meters. Mix continued to hold the lead heading into the final straightaway, but Landry would kick past him to close in a 2:09 for his final 800 meters and win a second state crown on the day with his 9:13.74 clocking.
His double win performance at the state meet, showed Landry could run with the big boys at the adidas Outdoor Championships in the two mile run, but his performance in Raleigh was yet another shocking improvement. Landry would finish third to earn All-American honors in the race with a sensational time of 8:48.28 (8:44.85 for 3200) in a closely contested race (Shadrack Kiptoo NM 8:45.44 and Josh McDougal NY 8:48.11). Landry etched himself as one of the nation\'s premier high school prep distance runners with the performers and Coach Gibby at William & Mary has to been anxious to work with another Thomas Jefferson star after coaching Landry\'s former teammate, Keith Bechtol to an amazing freshmen year in college.
Christo Landry\'s Elite Performances
HS Outdoor 1600m (04:11.25) 2004-04-17 Allen Johnson Invitational 04:12.51 2004-05-28 Northern Region Meet 04:11.25 PR 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 04:13.39 HS Outdoor 3200m (08:44.85) 2004-04-17 Allen Johnson Invitational 09:31.01 2004-05-08 Hartford Public invitational 08:50.67 2004-05-19 Concorde District Meet 09:02.69 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 09:13.74 2004-06-18 adidas Outdoor Championships 08:44.85
JUMPER OF THE YEAR...DENNIS BOONE (THOMAS DALE HS, JR)Despite having to sit out the Group AAA State Meet due to an injury suffered at the Central Region Meet, Thomas Dale junior Dennis Boone proved his worth throughout the season as consistently one of the top long jumpers in the state as well as the nation. Earlier in the season, Boone had won the long jump competition as the prestigous Penn Relays with a mark of 23-6.25. After forcing to watch the state meet from the sidelines despite being the top seed with 23-11 season best at the time, Boone bounced back with resilience. At the adidas Outdoor Championships in Raleigh, Boone leaped to a personal best mark of 24-02.25 to earn All-American honors with a third place finish. Boone also posted some solid track bests of 10.70 in the 100 meter dash and 21.71 in the 200 meter dash.
Dennis Boone\'s Elite Performances
HS Outdoor 100m (00:10.70) 2004-04-03 Five Forks Track Classic 00:11.07 2004-04-09 Taco Bell Classic 00:10.70 PR 2004-05-06 Loucks Games 00:10.85 2004-05-19 Central District Meet 00:10.81 2004-05-28 Central Region Meet 00:11.07 HS Outdoor 200m (00:21.71) 2004-05-06 Loucks Games 00:21.86 2004-05-19 Central District Meet 00:21.71 PR HS Outdoor LJ (024-02.25) 2004-04-03 Five Forks Track Classic 022-04.50 2004-04-09 Taco Bell Classic 023-01.00 2004-04-22 Penn Relays Carnival 023-06.25 2004-05-06 Loucks Games 021-06.25 2004-05-19 Central District Meet 023-11.00 2004-05-28 Central Region Meet 023-08.25 2004-06-18 adidas Outdoor Championships 024-02.25 PR 2004-06-25 USATF Junior Nationals 023-06.75
VAULTER OF THE YEAR...DANIEL MAGNESS (GREAT BRIDGE HS, JR)The top vaulter on pole vaulting mecca that is Great Bridge High School, junior Daniel Magness proved himself as the state\'s top vaulter in the event with a state title and state best in the event. Magness won the AAA State crown this past spring in an exciting jump off with Westfield\'s David Lewis at a height of 15-6. The height was a state best as he shared it with Lewis. A state champion and All-American during indoors, Magness consistently performered at a high level all season long as he cleared 15 feet nine times in invitational or championship caliber meets during his junior year. With another year of high school remaining, Magness will have a chance to try and go after a height of 16 feet. He\'ll get plenty of push in up and coming star teammate Michael Morrison who cleared 15 feet this year as a sophomore and also is a stellar multi-event athlete as Morrison won the decathalon event at the USATF Junior Olympics for his age group.
Daniel Magness\' Elite Performances
HS Outdoor PV (015-06.00) 2004-04-17 Volunteer Classic 014-06.00 2004-04-22 Penn Relays Carnival 015-01.00 2004-05-01 Landstown Invitational 015-00.00 2004-05-21 Southeastern District Meet 014-00.00 2004-05-28 Eastern Region Meet 015-00.00 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 015-06.00 PR 2004-06-18 adidas Outdoor Championships 014-11.00
THROWER OF THE YEAR...LOUIS CORUM (WESTFIELD HS, SR)Everyone knew the name Steve Huntzinger last year. The domintant thrower from James Robinson, who won several state titles and now is competing at the College of William & Mary. There was no disputing the fact he was the best thrower in the state. But how about this year? Louis Corum? Who is Louis Corum? For those who are not familiar with Corum or from the Northern Region. Let me introduce you. Corum was a star linebacker on the state champion Westfield football team and also was a starter on their basketball team. Going into the AAA State Meet, the Westfield boys were really lacking in potential points in the field events, but Corum came out of nowhere and showed he can be a star in this sport as well.
Corum competed in three events and gave the Bulldogs a total of 24 points. Those points were plenty enough to give Westfield their first state title crown. Corum improved on his personal best in the discus by almost nine feet as he won the state title crown with a throw at 158-3 and finished second in the shot put at 56-1 with sophomore Joseph Jones of Great Bridge winning on the final throw of the competition at 56-8. Corum showed his all around talents are not limited to the throwing events as he achieved a personal best in the high jump with his third place finish at 6-6. A thrower high jumping 6-6?! What an athlete!
Louis Corum\'s Elite Performances
HS Outdoor D (158-03.00) 2004-05-19 Concorde District Meet 148-09.50 2004-05-28 Northern Region Meet 149-03.75 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 158-03.00 PR HS Outdoor HJ (006-06.00) 2004-04-17 Allen Johnson Invitational 006-02.00 2004-04-24 Dogwood Track Classic 006-02.00 2004-05-19 Concorde District Meet 006-00.00 2004-05-28 Northern Region Meet 006-04.00 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 006-06.00 PR HS Outdoor S (056-01.00) 2004-04-02 Northern Virginia Invitational 048-02.00 2004-04-17 Allen Johnson Invitational 049-09.00 2004-04-24 Dogwood Track Classic 050-07.00 2004-05-19 Concorde District Meet 054-00.25 2004-05-28 Northern Region Meet 054-11.00 2004-06-04 VHSL Group AAA State Meet 056-01.00 PR HS Outdoor TJ (043-02.25) 2004-05-28 Northern Region Meet 043-02.25 PR
RELAY OF THE YEAR...WESTFIELD HIGH SCHOOL DISTANCE RELAYS (4x800 & DMR)Westfield\'s team success this past spring was attributed not only to possessing some talented individuals, but also being able to field two amazing relays in the 4x800 and distance medley relay. Both relays generally consisted of the same four members in Chris Courson, Chris Black, James Scheiner, and David Groff. The 4x800 meter relay team had already proven its greatness during the indoor season by breaking the one year state meet record with a national leading time of 7:48.63. They would then go onto win the national title at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships held at the New York Armory in a time of 7:50.44. Earlier in the same meet, the Westfield group of four, earned All-American status in the DMR with a fourth place finishing time of 10:12.89.
During the outdoor season, Westfield took their relays to compet in some of the nation\'s best meets including the Arcadia Invitational, Penn Relays, and Loucks Games. At the Penn Relays, Westfield advanced to the High School Championship of America finals for the 4x800 meter relay and finished fourth in the competitive race with a time of 7:49.11 (Chris Courson 2:00.3, James Scheiner 1:54.8, Chris Black 2:00.4, David Groff 1:53.6). The time would stand as the state\'s best time in the relay event for the entire season. The Westfield 4x800 meter relay team was never really given a chance to run much faster as at the state meet, the boys 4x800 meter relay encountered steady rain and winds up to 20 mph. However, Westfield still put up a solid performance in the conditions to win yet another 4x800 state title with a time of 7:58.39.
Earlier in the season at the Loucks Games in New York, Westfield shifted their focus to the DMR. With a scorching 3:02 1200 meter opening leg from senior David Groff, the Westfield DMR team of Groff, Chris Black, Chris Courson, and James Scheiner went onto win the DMR at the Loucks Games in New York with a final time of 10:14.52. Groff hinted at a possible sub 10:10 later on in the season. At AOC maybe??? AOC indeed.
Westfield decided to bag the 4x800 at outdoor nationals, and save themselves for the DMR, which they believed they had a better shot at winning another national title in. The boys from Westfield came to race in Raleigh. They opened with the lead with another swift 3:02 1200 leg from David Groff. They stayed in and out of the lead for the next three legs until 1600m anchor leg James Scheiner was overtaken by Saline of Michigan\'s anchor, Dustin Voss on the backstretch of the final lap. Scheiner was able to hold onto a second place finish for Westfield at a solid 10:05.68 clocking.
First Team100m: Michael Coleman (Broad Run, Sr)
200m: Charles Clark (Bayside, So)
400m: Lashawn Merritt (Woodrow Wilson, Sr)
800m: Brian Fussell (Hayfield, Jr)
1600m: Shane Young (Herndon, Sr)
3200m: Christo Landry (Thomas Jefferson S&T, Sr)
110m Hurdles: Christopher Bell (Granby, So)
300m Hurdles: Philippe Tondereau (Westfield, Sr)
4x100m: Deep Creek
4x400m: Deep Creek
High Jump: Raphel Hall (Deep Creek, Jr)
Pole Vault: Daniel Magness (Great Bridge, Sr)
Long Jump: Dennis Boone (Thomas Dale, Sr)
Triple Jump: Dionne McClain (Granby, Jr)
Shot Put: Joseph Jones (Great Bridge, So)
Discus: Jason Cook (Brentsville, Sr)
Second Team100m: Cedric Peerman (William Campbell, Sr)
200m: Trayman Hill (Greensville County, Sr)
400m: Travis Stallings (Deep Creek, Sr)
800m: David Groff (Westfield, Sr)
1600m: James Scheiner (Westfield, Sr)
3200m: Hari Mix (Albemarle, Sr)
110m Hurdles: Avery Wilson (I.C. Norcom, Sr)
300m Hurdles: Alvin Tondereau (Westfield, Sr)
4x800m: J.R. Tucker
High Jump: Joseph Owens (Warren County, Sr)
Pole Vault: David Lewis (Westfield, Sr)
Long Jump: William Harvin (Landstown, So)
Triple Jump: Jerome Miller (Colonial Forge, Sr)
Shot Put: Nathan Turner (Spotswood, Sr)
Discus: Louis Corum (Westfield, Sr)
Third Team100m: Troy Wilkerson (Maury, Sr)
200m: Luke Renick (Fauquier, Sr)
400m: Jastair Bailey (Sussex, Sr)
800m: Thuom Mathaing (J.R. Tucker, Jr)
1600m: Derrick Robbins (Woodside, Jr)
3200m: Patterson Wilhelm (E.C. Glass, So)
110m Hurdles: Melvin Edison (Hermitage, Sr)
300m Hurdles: B.J. Revis (Douglas Freeman, Jr)
4x400m: Oscar Smith
4x800m: Turner Ashby
High Jump: Clarence Taylor (Essex, Jr)
Pole Vault: Will Byrd (Norfolk Academy, Sr)
Long Jump: Brandon Anderson (Pulaski County, Sr)
Triple Jump: Delonte Wilson (George Washington, Sr)
Shot Put: Christian Johnson (West Potomac, Sr)
Discus: Tommy Mulcahy (Riverheads, Sr)