Atchue Highlights Distance Recap From States

A new Virginia prep distance star was born over the weekend, as Nathan Atchue of Franklin County won the boys' Class 6 championship in the 1600-meter run. His time of 4:11.19 is best in the state for the indoor season and sets the junior up with one more bonafide shot at reaching his target time of 4:10 at the New Balance Nationals in New York City.

Running wasn't always so easy for Atchue.

"I started running in fifth grade with our school's "Boys on the Run" club," said Atchue. But the youngster found trouble living up to the group's expectation. "I was the laziest person on the team. I walked everywhere!"

Despite his initial aversion to running, Atchue was one of the better athletes on the team, and his 5K time of "around 24 minutes" was one of the best on the team.

But it would take time to immerse in the sport. There was football in seventh grade, and Atchue's first foray into track had a coach led to the hurdles, which he didn't like. But the groundwork was being set.

Or so it appeared. In his freshman year, Atchue lowered his 1600 time to 4:32 before a torn hamstring but a halt to his training, and soon after, COVID almost ended everybody's.

But it didn't. By the end of sophomore year, Atchue had reduced ten more seconds to his mile, and opened his senior indoor campaign with a 4:19.

There would still be readjusting, which started right after Atchue ran a 4:34 at the VA Showcase.

"I was pretty upset about that," said the Eagle, whose school is located about 30 miles south of Roanoke and is one of the few from the Rte. 81 corridor to be designated a Class 6. "I changed my training to two (hard) workouts per week with one long run."

With his "new mentality" intact, he would go on to win the Region 6B 1600 in 4:20 before heading for the start line at Virginia Beach.

"I knew there were four guys in there who had broken 4:20, so my goal was to stick up front, and keep with the people that I knew should be there." Before the race, he and his coach Chris Williams had planned for Atchue to be in position to make a move.

After crossing the 800 mark in 2:07, Atchue was ready to roll, pulling away from the field with a 2:04 on the second 800 to cross the line first.

With three track seasons left, the possibilities are limitless for Atchue. "I'd like to run the 800, and maybe even try the 400," which is not an impossibility for the runner who has tried every event from the 300 to the 3200.

And then there are the college plans. Still uncommitted, but with plenty of time to plan, Atchue knows what he is looking or in a program. "I have talked with a couple of schools, and am looking for a great team camaraderie, good coaches, and a chance to win a national championship."

The Young Guns Represent Well

The five days between Friday and last Tuesday gave plenty of time for the strong group of female distance runners a chance to shine on the tracks of Virginia Beach and Lynchburg.

And they did not disappoint.

As expected, the Liberty District was well represented in Class 6. Yorktown's Anna Macon Corcoran, the Duke commit, won the 1600 (4:59.21) and placed third in the 1000 (2:58.86), behind Ocean Lakes' Aniya Mosley (2:52.77) and Franklin County's Kylie Cooper (2:58.26).

McLean Thais Rolly won the 3200 in a state-leading and US top-ten time of 10:21.39.

Gillian Bushee' of Herndon placed second in the 1600 (5:00.16) and 3200 (10:36.11) to post her best double performance of a meet while gaining 16 of the Hornets' 20 points.

Not to be overlooked, in Class 4, Caroline Bauer of Jamestown won the 3200 with a time of 10:32.75. For Bauer, it was a good finish to her first indoor track season ever, and one that she got to share with her teammates.

"They gathered up on the balcony at the end of the (Liberty) track to cheer for me. It was a cool experience."

Hanover junior Ally Crytser was second, just 14 seconds behind Bauer. Crytser also won the 1600 (4:54.38), nipping Jefferson Forest sophomore Zoie Lamanna (4:59.98).

Lamanna also won the 1000 in 3:00.18, helping her team to with one point of the team championship.