Abingdon, a tiny city (population of 8,376 according to the 2020 Census) just near the Virginia/Tennessee border on Rte. 81, saw its high school become the home to a triple crown team winner as the Falcon boys delivered the final touch to a perfect season, with the boys winning the Class 3 track championship at Liberty University on Saturday.
With the victory, the Abingdon boys became the first team from Southwest Virginia to win the state cross-country, indoor and outdoor meets in the same year.
More amazingly, the Falcons, who were scoreless in the state meet as recently as three years ago, won all three meets by a wide margin - in this case, by 33 points over co runners-up Maggie Walker and Heritage-Lynchburg.
As senior Dylan Phillips told the Bristol Herald-Courier, "This is a once in a lifetime thing."
Phillips, a key cog on the Falcons' sterling distance crew, delivered spectacularly. On Friday, he joined teammates Teddy Pillion, Jack Bundy, and Isaac Thiessen to win the 3200-meter relay in 8:13.24.
While the Falcons won this race by eight seconds, Phillips had to play catchup the following day in the 1600, moving from third to first over the course of the final three laps, and then outkicking Brookville's Chasen Hunt, edging to a .08 second win in 4:20.73.
Isaac Thiessen placed second in the 3200 (9:24.94), leading a Falcon quintet that opened Saturday with 21 points in the day's longest event. Xander Brown placed second in the 100 (10.76) and 200 (22.34).
The two Heritage teams won the girls' championships. In Class 3, Heritage-Lynchburg All-Stater Alaysia Oakes, headed for Stanford, won three more gold medals, winning the 100 (12.45), long (19-0) and triple (39-6) jumps. With the victories, Oakes finished her prep career with 16 state titles. She also placed third in the 200 and sixth in the 400 to total 39 individual points, more than half of her team's cache.
With 60 points, the Pioneers held off strong challenges from Maggie Walker (48.5) and Rustburg (42.5).
The Class 4 girls provided the most drama among the teams as Jefferson Forest, Deep Creek, and Heritage all shared the lead during the second half of Saturday, with Western Albemarle creeping under the radar in striking position. However, the Hurricanes, pulled out to a six-point edge over Creek when Madison Whyte and Sanaa Wooden took 1-3 in the 200, followed by a dominant display in the 1600-meter relay with Sanaa and sister Sabria Wooden book ending legs from Myzhane Solomon and Nicole Lee Simmons to clock out at 3:58.23 and win the meet with 69 points. Jefferson Forest snuck into second at 54, a point ahead of Creek.
Heritage was one of the smaller contingents at the meet with seven girls, drawing a question from co-coach Ray Pollard on how the Hurricanes could put together such a fearsome foursome on the track for the day's last event. With a sly smile, Pollard, who has been involved with track for over 60 years answered, "we have that kind of depth."
The Hornets were the most dominant pair of teams with the second-place boys and third place girls finishes. Senior hurdler Dasya Tolbert, a VMI commit, won both events in season-best times of 14.64 and 43.42. Teammate Jaelyn green won the boys 300-meter hurdles in 38.51, while Antoine Fair captured in boys 200 in 21.76.
The Pulaski boys won the Class 4 boys meet by just three points, holding off a Hornet comeback with the strength of their field events. Winners included JJ Gulley in the high jump (6-5), Deigo Turner in the shotput (54-10). Gulley was also second in the 100 (10.79) and anchored the winning 400-meter relay in 41.84. John Lyman III (3rd), Gulley (4th), Quemaar Porter (7th) and Armonte Hill-Lewis (8th) all combined for 14 points in the long jump, buoying the Cougars winning effort.
The day's most dominant performance at either class arguably came from Montrell Covil of Portsmouth's I.C. Norcom High. Covil won the long jump (24-1.75) and became the only triple jumper in Virginia to clear 50 feet this year, with his winning mark of 50 feet and a half inch. "I didn't expect to get to 24, I was hoping to clear 23," said Covil of his state-leading long jump mark.
Milestat will have more to come on Covil, Tolbert and her Creek teammates Jazmyn Richardson and Justice Arnold, who will all be attending VMI and competing with Coach Eddie Williams, and Glen Allen's double runner-up team showing in Class 5.