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* L.C. Bird's Jayson Ward was second in the 300m on Friday at The VA Showcase
Photo Credit: Mary Ann Magnant/Milesplit
By Jim McGrath - MileStat
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The VA Showcase took its opening lap on Friday at the Virginia Beach Sports Center, and unlike last year's meet, which saw groups of competitors and spectators shuffled in and out of the Virginia Beach Sports Center track facility in regulated waves, the bleachers swelled to about two-thirds capacity as the first set of invitational events got underway late in the afternoon.
The buzz throughout the complex was a welcome addition to a meet which has earned the distinction as "the home of National and State records." The Showcase, now in its sixth year, started as the vision of meet founder Nolan Jez, but outgrew the Liberty University track complex two years ago and now draws over 2,000 athletes and just as many fans to the South Hampton Roads oceanfront.
In five years, the Showcase has seen 10 national high school records, five World U20 records and over 100-plus US No. 1 performances. Three Olympic gold medalists have competed here, and just a year after setting the national girls high school record in the 500m in 2020, Athing Mu of Trenton (NJ) High -- and later Texas A&M -- became a darling of last year's Olympic Games with her gold medal performance in the women's 800m run.
With its reputation as the top national indoor high school meet, coupled with the world-class track at the Sports Center, pre-meet conjectures on the breaking of American high school records focused on three events -- the 300m, 500m, and 1K.
Whyte had the first shot, squaring off against current US leader Shawnti Jackson of Wakefield (NC). But Jackson would not be denied, winning with the second fastest time in American high school history (36.95), while Whyte settled for second in 38.37.
"She surprised me a little bit," said Whyte, who will compete with three of her Hurricane teammates in Saturday's 4x200 relay.
Tallwood's Ariel Fletcher placed sixth in 39.29.
Ward also had to settle for the runner-up slot. His time of 33.73 was just over a second off the American record (32.64), and behind victor Justin Braun of Western Central (OH), who won in 33.32.
Charles Wall-Davis of Nansemond River was eighth in 34.96.
The boys and girls mile runs were completed on Friday. Three Virginia girls finished in the top eight, led by Yorktown's Anna Macon Corcoran (third in 4:53.83). Hanover's Alli Crytser was fourth in 4:56.26, and Caroline Bauer of Jamestown placed eighth in 5:01.72. For the boys, the two fastest times were posted by Charlie Ortmans of Potomac School (second - 4:18.13) and Ryan Watson (fourth - 4:18.46). Loudoun Valley's Graham Mussmon was fifth in 4:19.56, while Loudoun County's Ethan Stansbury took sixth in 4:20.23.
The 200m was also held on Friday. Brianna Selby of Indian River (25.07) placed fifth among the girls, while Leontro Mattison of Virginia Beach Salem finished sixth in the boys event with a time of 22.36.
The girls 4x400 relay was also contested on Friday with the Kellam quartet of Selina Faehnrich (64.28), Jamison Gilmore (59.01), Mia Suero (61.78), and Madison Beale (59.74) placing second in 4:04.81.
Kellam sophomore Alexis McCue won the girls pole vault in 9-6.
The 55m dash and hurdle trials ran through a full deck of heats; however, in the end six Virginians qualified for Saturday's finals. In the 55m dashes, the boys were shut out of the final, but there was one competitor whose name is better known for his other job: Quarterback of the Freedom High football team.
Davis Bryson, the Region 6B offensive player of the year, won his heat in 6.68, just 0.22 seconds off the qualifying time, but he spoke highly of the Virginia Beach oval.
"We won the state 4 x 200 here last year," said Bryson, who added that his three former relay mates have successfully transitioned to college football, and that he is the lone remaining member of a squad that will compete in the event on Saturday.
Bryson also spoke of the importance of track within football coach Darryl Overton's program.
"There are about ten of us out," Bryson said. "Coach (Overton) encourages us to go out for multiple sports."
In fact, Overton is also well known for his accomplishments as a girls' basketball coach.
Sydney Ellis of Nansemond River garnered the No. 7 seed in the 55-meter hurdles (8.59), while on the boys side, Winston Broiles of Battlefield (2nd -- 7.55), Peter Djan of Potomac (7th -- 7.66) and Albert Asare from Woodberry Forest (8th -- 7.72) earned berths to the final.
A trio of Virginia Preps placed 3-4-5 in the boys long jump. Jaden Ferguson (Woodberry Forest -- 6.89 m.), Krystian Williams of Collegiate (6.87 m.) and Robbie Handelsman (Woodberry Forest - 6.85 m.) earned the trifecta, and William Fleming's Micah Jones placed seventh in 6.68 m.), with I.C. Norcom's Montrell Covil eighth (6.55 m.).
Nasir Riley of the Real Deal Track Club was Virginia's quickest entry in the fastest kid race, placing second as he covered 200 meters in 28.60, behind Shawnti Jackson's younger brother Bershawn Jr. Jackson, who won in 26.71.
Clayton Stoil of Langley won the boys 1-mile race walk in 7:43.13, probably jettisoned by an involved and somewhat boisterous crowd.