Near Sweep for VA distance boys at NIC

LANDOVER, MD -- A large group of Virginians competed in the third annual Nike Indoor Classic, held at the Prince George County\' Sports and Learnin Center. Out of this group came four national champions and a handful of All-Americans. In particular, Virginia looked very impressive in the boys\' distance events were they nearly won every from 800 meters up.

Heading into the 800 meter run, South Lakes senior Richard Smith was the obvious favorite as he came having the fastest 1000 meter time in the nation (2:28) and coming off a 1:52 split to help his 4x800 team win the state title the previous weekend. Well he won the 800, in typical Richard Smith fashion, dusting his competition on the final straightaway. Texas\'s Wil Fits made it a race as he set a blistering early pace with a 52 second first lap and managed to hold on very well as he kept the lead through the final stretch. Smith, kept within striking distance of Fits as he hit the 400 in 55 seconds. Smith then really turned it on to catch Fits on the final lap and on the final stretch, Smith blew by the fading Fits in a time of 1:53.97.

With many other runners around the state and nation posting fast times during indoors and in the middle of his training for World Cross Country Championships, a few people thought that the rarely beaten Bobby Lockhart of John Handley was vulnerable for defeat in the two mile run. Well a race never materialized as Lockhart broke away from the field early on as he was the only runner willing to push the pace. Lockhart hit the mile marker in 4:29, and it looked as though every lap was his last one in the second mile as he pushed through the pain to run another 4:29 mile for a personal best and national best time of 8:58.04 (8:54.64 3200).

Other Virginians performed admirably in the boys\' two mile run. Keally, who was coming off his 8:59 3200 last weekend, ran a respectable time of 9:13.31 (9:09.91 3200) in the fast heat to finish ninth overall. Jamestown senior Bryce Ruiz had a breakthrough run in winning the second fastest heat with a time of 9:17.15 (9:13.75 3200). Ruiz, not known for having a kick, looked like a totally different Ruiz as he outkicked Foot Locker All-Americans Joe Thorne of Georgia and Virginia\'s own, Fleet Hower of Marion (12th overall, 9:20.79).

After loosing in a photo finish to Richard Smith in the 1000 meter run last weekend at states, heartbreak struck again to Thomas Dale junior Alex Tatu in the boys\' mile at Nike. The race had gathered many of the nation\'s best, and it was assumed that many fast times would be produced. That was not the case as North Carolina junior Matt Debole led the field through 65 seconds at the quarter mile and 2:10 at the half mile as Tatu lingered in the back of the pack early on. Tatu then made a surge to the front and had the lead with a lap to go and looked to have a national title in sight with the lead on the final stretch. However, last year\'s champ Bobby Curtis, who nipped Bobby Lockhart at the end to win, used those same tactics again to just get Tatu at the line for the win. Tatu still finished with an excellent finish of second with a time of 4:16.31. Tatu nearly pulled out a complete Virginia sweep of the boys\' distance events with Smith (800) and Lockhart (two mile) winning and Tatu taking second in the mile.

After running a 4:20 1600 last weekend at the state meet and unofficially breaking the freshmen indoor mile record, Denbigh\'s Derrick Robbins got a crack at officially breaking the record at the NIC\'s freshmen mile. Robbins broke the record of 4:23.90, but he did not set the record as he finished third in the race with a time of 4:23.84. Robbins has shown a very promising future with his great success this indoor season.

Two other national champions came out of the fields from Virginia. Menchville senior Keith Moffatt successfully defended his boys\' high jump national title. A handful of high jumpers around the nation who had leaped over 7 feet had assembled in Landover, but Moffatt walked with the title at a height of only 6-8.75. Moffatt had to sweat it out though with two other jumpers reaching the same height as well.

Wake Forest bound Lindsay Neuberger of Cox won the girls\' shot put with ease as she improved on her national best mark with a throw of 48-4. All she needed was two throws and she had the national title in the bag.

Centreville\'s David Sullivan was in contention to win the pole vault, but Kentucky\'s Chip Hauser going over 16 feet put the title out of reach. Sullivan still performed exceptionally well as he finished third at a height of 15-9.

In a very competitive shot put field, James Robinson\'s Steve Huntzinger broke 60 feet with his throw of 60-8.75. Huntzinger has set himself up to win a national next year as he was the only non-senior to earn All-American honors.

In their first year of existence, Landstown High School already has an All-American as senior Melvin Woodhouse just broke into the top six with his triple jump of 46-0.5.

Heritage was fortunate enough to have two All-Americans in Michael Johnson and Quentin Bowens. Johnson held his ground against the nation\'s best sprinters as he finished third in the 60 meter dash with a blazing time of 6.87. Bowens, posted a quick 400 meter time of 49.54 to advance into the finals, where he finished fifth (50.08).

Centreville\'s Daniel Bailey was top finisher in the 200 meter dash from our state with a time of 22.31 as he won his heat, but the time was not good enough to advance onto the finals.

Nansemond River\'s Esteban Guzman posted the second fastest time 7.98 in the semi-finals, but found bad luck in tripping over a hurdle in the finals to finish sixth overall.

The boys\' 4xmile gave a very early preview of what looks to be a battle next year in cross country between the Thomas Jefferson and Midlothian boys. Midlothian held the lead between the two through the first two legs, but Thomas Jefferson took the lead on the third leg and kept it for good to take the final All-American place (6th, 18:27.28) and shut out Midlothian (7th, 18:39.02).

The Herndon boys\' DMR was the only other boys\' relay squad to take All-American honors as they finished sixth with a time of 10:37.72. The performance was impressive considering they competed without their sub 4:20 miler Rasheed Thompson who will miss a couple months of action with a stress fracture in his femur.

Western Branch\'s Modupeola Oluwole finished a surprising sixth place in the girls\' 60 meter dash with a time of 7.77 as she took home All-American honors.

The AA girls were well represented in the sprints with Amherst County\'s Jenea Brown and Caroline\'s LaTonya Anderson. Brown finished fifth in the 200 meter dash with a stellar time of 25.61 and Anderson as well as finished fifth, but in the 400 meter dash with a quick clocking of 57.29.

The final All-American place in the girls\' mile was a battle between two Virginians as Hickory\'s Jennifer Boyd ran down Menchville\'s Megan Isaacs to finish sixth in a time of 5:11.46 with Isaacs taking seventh in 5:11.96.

However, Boyd\'s time was not the fastest posted by a Virginian at the meet as Fauquier\'s Sarah Bowman finished second in the freshmen mile with a time of 5:09.26.

Shannon Saunders of Jefferson Forest was in the top six of the girls\' two mile run and looked to be in contention for All-American honors, but faded at the end to tenth place for still a respectable time of 11:13.06.

Despite picking up All-American honors in finishing sixth in the 60 meter hurdles, Menchville\'s Jelyn Quick as she posted the second fastest time in semi-finals (8.69). Like Guzman in the boys\' hurdles, Quick hit a hurdle in the final to wipe out any chance at winning.

The girls\' 4x200 saw two Virginian teams take top six with the sprint powerhouses of Salem (3rd, 1:43.73) and Gar-Field (4th, 1:44.44).

The James Robinson girls were impressive as they finished fourth in the 4x800 meter relay with a time of 9:33.10.

Potomac\'s sprint medley relay of Corvette Johnson, Ebony Cannon, Kahka Patterson, and Brittany Ransom put together a formidable squad to finish sixth overall with a time of 4:11.86.

The state got two All-Americans out of the girls\' triple jump with Yvette Lewis of Denbigh (3rd, 39-10.75) and Amy Seward of Salem (4th, 39-10.50).