Class 5/6 State Meet Recap

The first four state indoor track champions were crowned within the confines of the Virginia Beach Sports Center on Saturday, concluding another exciting Class 5/6 meet that saw several top US performances and state meet records.

In Class 6 girls, Thomas Dale held on to their large lead from Day 1, and saw a second victory from sophomore Devyn Parham, who won the 55-meter hurdles in a state-leading time of 8.06. Teammate Madison McConico, who won the triple jump on Friday, placed second behind Osbourn Park's Lena Gooden's 19-3.5 in the long jump with a leap of 18-5.5.

Dale finished the meet with 53 points, holding off a strong effort from pre-meet favorite South County, who tallied 47.

The day's top performance may have come from Alexandria City thrower Wisdom Williams, who uncorked a state-leading, #3 Virginia All-Time shot-put toss of 48-3.75 to finish the preliminary round.

However, Williams' next throw may have garnered more attention.

Throwing last of nine athletes in the finals round, Williams started her first throw with a faster spin and stronger release, propelling the ball over 50 feet. However, her momentum carried the foot of the University of Iowa commit out of the throwing circle, resulting in a foul.

"That one felt like 50 (feet)," said Williams, who will have one more chance to eclipse the plateau this season at either the New Balance Nationals meet at the Armory in New York City in two weeks, or the Adidas Nationals, which will take place at the same Virginia Beach facility the following weekend.

South Lakes repeated as the Class 6 boys' champion. Just a year after defeating Battlefield 46-45 for the title, the Seahawks were ahead 57-47 heading into the meet's final event - the 4x400 relay.

The Seahawks quartet of Joshua Gregory, Koray Boybeyi, Kai Gibson, and Tyler Benett secured the victory with a second-place finish in 3:27.41. It was needed as Battlefield's Winston Broiles, Cohen McNabb, Austin Rice, and Austin Callan won the event in 3:20.95, meaning that a handoff catastrophe or dropped baton from South Lakes could have allowed the Bobcats to finish in a tie for first.

There were two clutch distance races in the boys' Class 6. Nathan Atchue of Franklin County knocked eight seconds off his best time in the 1600, to top Justice's Ryan Watson and the field with a swift time of 4:11.19. We'll have more on Atchue later in the week.

In the 1000, McLean's Xavier Jemison, hampered by a noticeably sore hip that forced him to fall sideways at the opening gun, elected to push the pace, clearing the 400 in 57 seconds and the 800 in 1:57, on the way to a state-leading and US top-ten time of 2:26.45. But who knew the secondary reason for his motivation?

"This was my last (indoor state) opportunity, and it was a good ego booster. I shouldn't be that far behind Rhinehardt," said the Highlander senior, speaking of Florida high school runner Rheinhardt Harrison, a 4:01 miler who missed Robby Andrews' national record in the 1000 meters by a tenth of a second last month at the VA Showcase with his time of 2:22.77. "We raced each other when we were younger and had the same mile time."

In truth, four teams won state championships, but only three schools, as Nansemond River swept Class 5. The boys had an easier time, scoring 74 points to top previous champion L.C. Bird and upstart Glen Allen by 24 points.

The girls also overcame a serious challenge from Glen Allen, who scored 26 points in Friday's pole vault to score a large early lead. The WAR crew caught fire in the early goings on Saturday to pull away by 13 points.

The Warriors team was led by 8-10 athletes on each team, but two shone brightest this weekend.

For the boys, Deondre Hardy won the triple jump (45-9) and 55 hurdles (7.35), while joining Isaiah Stalling-Mullins, Joshua Creque and Latavern Brandon on the winning 4x400 relay. He was also second in the long jump (22-7.25) and fifth in the 55, compiling 32 individual points. His hurdle time is tops in Virginia.

Charles Wall-Davis was second in the 55 hurdles (7.55) and 300 (34.52), trailing only LC Byrd phenom Jayson Ward. Savion Wingate placed third in the long jump and fourth in the 55 hurdles as the 23 points earned nearly covered their margin of victory.

On the girls' side, Jaliyah Person led the Warrior path to victory with wins in the long jump (18-8.25) and 500 (1:14.90). Sydney Ellis captured the 55 hurdles in 8.33, and joined Ansolei Taliaferro, Trinity Lucas, and Nyah Harrison for the final 4x400 win (3:56.43). Taliaferro, Person, Peyton Wright, and Lucas also hit the tape first in the 4x200 (1:42.72). Person earned 30 individual points, plus a share of the 10 for the 4x200 relay.

Harrison was third in the 300 (39.82) and 500 (1:17.30), while Grace Flynn earned four points for her fifth-place finish in the high jump.

Byrd's Ward also won the 500, and Brett Bishop of Douglas Freeman was the Class 5 boys' other double winner.

For the girls, Indian River's Brianna Selby was also a double winner, taking the 55 in a scorching state-leading time of 6.87. Selby also won the 300 (39.11). More on all three athletes later this week.