The Fork Union Invitational was renamed this year and became the Fred Hardy Jr. Invitational to honor the school's long-time retired coach, who established the track dynasty of annual excellence which current head coach Winston Brown has continued through the present day. As one of the state's longest running high school indoor invitationals moved into another decade, two local female athletes really excelled at a familar venue for both of them in Orange County's Ashontae Jackson (pictured above by John Herzog) and Louisa County's Javanique Burruss with double wins in their specialty of events.
Jackson, the Group AA defending state champion at 400 meters, rolled on the Estes Center 160 meter flat track with a personal best 7.33 clocking in the 55 meter dash and a season best time of 41.82 in the 300 meter dash. The Orange County senior figured to be a favorite for the Group AA 300 meter state title, but suddenly emerges as one of the top challengers in the short sprint as well for the 55 meter dash.
Meanwhile, Burruss almost claimed a third individual in one day if not for Orange's Jackson denying her first place in the 300 as runner-up with a PR clocking of 41.92. Earlier in the meet, Burruss dominated the horizontal jumps with a US #7 mark of 18'5.50" in the long jump accompanied by a top leap of 36'8.50" in the triple jump. Burruss had a narrow quarter inch margin of victory against C.D. Hylton's Amira Idris (36'8").
The girls pole vault showdown at Saturday's Fred Hardy Invite between the two co-state leaders heading into this weekend between juniors Cameron Overstreet of Atlee and Stephanie Oleson of Henrico as Oleson matched her state leading height of 11'6", while Overstreet elevated above that height for her first 12 foot clearance towin at Fork Union.
The distance race winners posted not just respectable, but fast times especially on a short indoor track. Stafford freshmen Hannah Lowery (5:12) outdueled Deep Run's Madalyn Nuckols (5:15) in the 1600 meter run, while Nuckols' teammate Courtney Dobbs had no problem running away from the competition and notching an automatic state qualifier in the 3200 meter run with her time of 11:06.68.
Despite hosting one of the top Group AAA track teams in the state currently with the Atlee boys present on Saturday, the Fork Union boys were not as friendly hosts in competition as they added to their growing title of home invitational titles with a team score of 73 points compared to Atlee's total of 57 points. Fork Union had three individuals claim first place finishes on the track with national caliber times including Wojciech Czernek in the 1600 meter run (4:22.53), Jamel Turner in the 55 meter hurdles (7.58), and Rich Dyer in the 55 meter dash (6.50).
The Atlee Raiders were led by a 300 meter victory by Michael Atkinson (36.88) and a swift 4x400 meter relay and decisive 8 second victory at 3:33 to conclude the one day invitational. Michael's twin brother also contributed considerable points individually including an exciting runner-up race to Stafford's Jacob Lysher (1:08.41) in the 500 meter dash.
Boys shot put state leader Sulaiman Fareed of Highland Springs nearly bettered his season best throw of 56'7" with a meet best throw of 56'5" in a competition, which pitted him against one of his top challengers for the Central Region title and in the state in Deep Run's Thomas Fuson (2nd, 54'0"). Fareed and high jump winner Quentin Moore (6'4") nearly helped Highland Springs (3rd, 56 pts) sneak past their Capital District rival for a runner-up team trophy at FUMA.
The Stafford track team had an all-around great meet with Lysher's win in the 500 meter dash, a 1-2 finish from their top two girls hurdlers Kierra Butler (8.73) and Kiah Zaremba (8.86), Matt Hazelgren clearing 14'8" in the pole vault, and their state leading 4x800 meter relay posting a solid time within the Estes Center in a 13 second 8:24 win.
The girls' team title ended up being a narrow one point margin between two familar Jefferson District rivals Western Albemarle (60 pts) and Louisa County (59 pts). Louisa County had much of their points produced by Burruss who also ran a leg on their victorious 4x200 meter relay (1:51.07), while Western Albemarle keyed off their 4x800 meter relay's first place showing (10:12) which featured the later 1000 meter winner Claire Johnson (3:06.76) who was followed in by teammate Katie Farina.
Below are the performances entered for the meet that met the national silver standard.
78 National Elites.