Manchester, James River girls fit to be tied, while Midlothian boys go the distance

RICHMOND, VA -- Six straight district championships and a 50-point lead toward No. 7 should have ended the drama Wednesday at the Arthur Ashe Center. Only someone forgot to tell the girls from James River.

Freshman Rebecca Ward, anchoring the Rapids' 1,600 relay, pulled away for an easy victory to cap the comeback as the Central Region cross-country champs rallied to tie Manchester for the Dominion District team title.

"The depth they have in the distances - I knew it was coming," said Lancers coach Gene Bowen, shaking his head as James River, led by 1,600 winner Kristin Coffield, went 1-2-3-6 in the 3,200.

Manchester, led by Kwadena Caple, who set a meet record in the 55-meter dash (7.30), then won the 500 and placed second in the 300, and Briana Smith, who scored in seven events, led the Rapids - in fifth -- 84-34 after the 800 relay. But with just six events to go, Manchester could only stand by and watch as a flood of James River distance runners washed away the margin.

"I knew coming out of the field events and the sprints we were going to be in trouble," said Rapids coach Vatel Dixon. "But we have some great cross country and middle distance runners, and that's what we were counting on."

The Midlothian boys, similarly deep in the longer races, had much less opposition in the early going and cruised, behind 1,600 and 1,000 winner Anthony D\'Amato, to a 48-point win over Manchester for the team title.

Earlier in the day, Clover Hill's Angie Jordan, with a winning clearance of 5-6, broke her own meet record in the high jump, set last year at 5-4. Courtney Tolbert of L.C Bird finished second at 5-5. Jordan's mark moves her to No. 2 in the state, behind Bonnie Meekins of Oakton (Vienna, Va.), the national co-leader at 5-10.

George Wythe's Reshaud Nobles, who entered with the top long jump mark in the Richmond area (22-7½), won his specialty at 21-2, then added an easy win in the high jump at 6-0.