The night the stars came out

DINWIDDIE, VA -- In its first three years of existence, the Southern Track Classic had quickly turned into one the most outstanding elite meets in the mid-Atlantic region. The fourth edition of the STC held on Friday night at Dinwiddie (VA) High School further enhanced the meet\'s reputation with a bevy of noteworthy performances on both the boys and girls side.

Held in picture perfect conditions which saw temperatures hovering in the upper 70\'s in the early evening and then dropping mildly into the upper 60\'s in late evening with virtually no wind, the weather only seemed to help encourage the superb fields which meet director Dan Ward had assembled.

The meet has always attracted many of the top notch distance runners from the state of Virginia with a sprinkling of other distance standouts from the East Coast in its early existence and that fact was very evident in the boys mile run where Bobby Lockhart of Handley High (VA) outdueled Brian Dalpiaz of Sayville, NY with Lockhart winning in a nation leading time of 4:08.35 and Dalpiaz second at 4:09.61.

Lockhart took the lead from the outset in the fifteen runner field and went through the first 440 yards in 62.4 with Dalpiaz, Phil Gaeta of Oakton and Denbigh freshman Derrick Robbins right with him. Lockhart matched that time on his second quarter mile as he passed 880 yards in 2:04.8 with Dalpiaz, Gaeta, Robbins still holding close positioning and Virginia runners Brandon King of Western Branch, New Kent\'s Guy Alton, Bayside\'s Mike Stoop and Daniel Kane of Louisa County all giving chase at 2:07.4 or better.

Lockhart continued to push the pace and passed the 1,320 yard mark at 3:07.8 with Dalpiaz a couple of strides behind; Gaeta in third at 3:09.2 and the rest of the field starting to string out.

On the backstretch of the final lap, Dalpiaz pulled up to right behind Lockhart as the Handley senior was at 3:38.7 with 220 yards to go. From there, boys outstanding runner award winner Lockhart had enough left in reserve and went through 1,500 meters at 3:51.6 before gradually lengthening his lead on the homestretch and getting his personal best mile of 4:08.35. Sayville junior Dalpiaz greatly improved his mile p.r. in second at 4:09.61 and Gaeta was third at 4:16.39 as nine runners dipped under 4:21.

The girls mile race was not as closely contested as the boys early in the race but it did also have a fairly close race at the end like the boys. Pre-meet favorite Keira Carlstrom of Oakton had the lead to herself at 73 seconds for the first 440 with the chase pack led by Amber Blain of Wester Branch, Menchville\'s Megan Isaacs and Jennifer Beury of Cave Spring coming through at 74.5.

Carlstrom hit the 880 mark at 2:28.4 and held a three second lead over the pack and still held a lead of three seconds at the 1,320 mark, which she passed at 3:45.0 with Delaney Moje of Western Albemarle, Isaacs of Menchville and Jennifer Boyd of Hickory as the trio at 3:48.

Defending champion Moje then started to make her move on the backstrectch and was on Carlstrom\'s heels with 220 yards to go (4:24). Carlstrom, like Lockhart, had enough left at the end after being able to set the pace early in the race and responded with a 33 second final 220 to win in 4:56.97 with Moje getting a huge personal best of 4:58.21 in second place and Hickory junior Boyd third at 5:02.97.

The other distance events also produced outstanding numbers. The boys 800 meter run had a big pre-race buildup with Virginia rivals Richard Smith of South Lakes and Alex Tatu of Thomas Dale along with Bobby Curtis of St. Xavier (KY) the top names entered. Smith led the tight, twelve runner field through 200 meters at 27 seconds but did not keep the pace honest enough and Curtis took over the lead at 400 meters; which was reached at 57.6.

Curtis maintained a small lead on the backstretch and was at 1:24.3 for 600 meters with Smith right behind the Kentucky junior. Curtis still held the lead coming off the final turn but at that point Smith switched gears and put on a great final burst in the final 100 meters to easily take the victory with the nation\'s fourth best time thus far this year at 1:51.47. Matt Wolak of Mills Godwin had a strong stretch drive in overtaking Curtis for second as Wolak clocked 1:53.24 with Curtis third (1:53.36) and Tatu fourth at 1:53.92.

The girls 800 brought together a freshman flash along with a junior trying to regain her freshman form of two years ago. James Monroe freshman Shylan Bumbrey had been running well all season and then really opened some eyes with her win at the T.C. Williams Invitational the week before this meet by winning in an excellent time of 2:13.91 after setting a very swift early pace.

At the Southern Track Classic, Bumbrey again set a very fast early pace with marks of 30.8 seconds at 200 meters and hitting the 400 mark at 63.8 with juniors Leslie Treherne of Western Branch and Potomac\'s Corvette Johnson doing their best to stay close. Bumbrey still led at 600 meters but Treherne was steadily gaining ground and Johnson was still close in third place.

Treherne then made her move off the final curve with Bumbrey tiring somewhat and Treherne, who had run 2:09.38 two years ago as a freshman at the state outdoor meet but was not able to compete last year outdoors after suffering a leg injury during the basketball season, took over down the homestretch and won in a very good time of 2:12.83 with Bumbrey rallying somewhat on the final straight to claim second (2:14.09) while fast closing junior Huma Husain of West Springfield nailedg down third (2:15.71) with Johnson of Potomac fourth in 2:16.84.

The girls 3,200 run saw senior Laura Stanley of Carolina Day (NC) break the meet record by almost 20 seconds with her winning time of 10:32.84. Stanley took the lead from the outset and posted splits of 75 seconds for the first 400; 2:36 at 800 and 5:16 at 1,600 meters but had Warren County sophomore Emily Harrison running right with her.

Stanley\'s steady running took her throught the next 800 meters in 2:41 (7:57 total) with Harrison now four seconds behind. Stanley then continued to pick up the pace and her final 800 meters in 2:35 enabled her to match her first 1,600 split with another 1,600 split of 5:16 for the win in 10:32.84. Warren County\'s Harrison held on for second place in a breakthrough race which saw her set a personal best by almost 20 seconds at 10:50.50 and Atlee senior Tiffany Cross also had a personal best race with her third place finish (10:54.27).

The boys 3,200 run had one of the deepest fields ever for Virginia with six runners from the Old Dominion state ducking under 9:14.

Jamestown senior Bryce Ruiz set a swift, solid pace from the outset and took much of the 14 runner field through the first 400 at 67; 800 meters at 2:15 and then two successive laps at 69 seconds to hit the halfway mark at 4:33. Ruiz then put up another 69 second lap and still maintained the lead with 1,200 meters remaining.

On the backstretch of lap six, John Crews of Rockbridge County took over the lead and did it for good. Crews put together three final laps with one at 67 seconds followed by two straight at 66 to come home in a personal best by almost ten seconds at 9:02.31.

Senior Fleet Hower of Marion made a hard charge in the final 400 meters to claim second at 9:05.35 and just held off Maggie Walker senior John Piersol, who was third in a personal best of 9:05.82. Jamestown senior Ruiz came home fourth in 9:10.05 followed by the Thomas Jefferson (Alexandria) duo of sophomore Christo Landry (9:12.16) and junior Keith Bechtol (9:13.55).

With those six under 9:14 along with Handley\'s Bobby Lockhart, Matt Keally of Ocean Lakes and Fork Union\'s Kippy Keino also under those times earlier this season, the state now boasts an unheard of before for Virginia, nine runners under 9:14 for 3,200 meters.

The barrier races saw dual wins, in a way, for both the girls and boys. On the girls side, Western Branch senior Lauren Taylor\'s victories in the hurdles netted her the girls outstanding runner award. In the 100 hurdles, Taylor held a half step lead over her Eastern Region rival Jelyn Quick of Menchville through five hurdles but Quick closed to almost even at the eighth hurdle before Taylor pulled away slightly over the final two hurdles to win in 14.26 with Quick a close second at 14.30.

The 300 hurdles were not as close. With Quick a scratch from the race, Taylor had the race pretty much her own way and broke Quick\'s meet record from last year of 43.87 with her win in 43.54 with Meadowbrook senior Shaunte Barber the runnerup at 45.82.

The boys 110 high hurdles had Menchville junior Dwight Porter as the leader until he clipped the final hurdle very hard with Atlee senior Nick Robinson getting the lean to win in 14.46 and edge seniors Antoine Woods of Gar-Field (2nd; 14.48) and F.W.Cox\'s Isi Azeke (3rd; 14.49).

The 300 hurdles was a battle among Woods of Gar-Field, Robinson of Atlee and senior Jonathan Chapman of Thomas Dale with Woods the leader until after the sixth hurdle. Chapman then forged to the lead over the seventh and then eighth and final hurdle but Robinson made a strong move in the last couple of strides to get to the line with Chapman with the final decision a tie for first place with both Robinson and Chapman timed at 38.83.

The 400 dash produced some superior performances with Quentin Bowen of Heritage moving out very quickly from lane four and making up the stagger on all the runners in lanes five through eight in the first 200 meters. Bowen did not let up and took the boys 400 by over 10 meters in a meet record time of 47.24 while the girls 400 dash had Willingboro (NJ) junior Okechi Ogbuokiri speed to the victory in 55.38 with Tallwood sophomore Faraign Giles the runnerup at 56.99.

The short sprints saw Caroline County senior Courtney Green as a double winner in taking both the girls 100 dash (12.14) and 200 dash (24.93) titles while pre-race favorite Michael Johnson of Heritage won the boys 100 dash in 10.64 with Michael Lewis of Greensville County second in the 100 (10.77) and then coming back to claim the 200 dash victory in 21.82 by edging Sherrod Lewis of Patrick Henry-Ashland (21.84).

There was also some hot relay action as the Kellam girls 4x800 squad ran very even splits to set a meet record by over 20 seconds with their time of 9:23.13 while the Willingboro boys 4x800 squad posted one of the nation\'s top times of 7:52.53 with their meet record setting win.

Willingboro took both 4x400 relays as well with the boys squad running 3:20.66 and the girls 4x4 setting a new meet record of 3:50.18 with Ogbbuokir anchoring in 54.5. The girls 4x100 relay saw Salem (48.08) notching the win over Eastern Region rival Bethel in the runnerup spot at 48.20 while the Hayfield squad of Marcus Tyus, Adam Bush, Randle Logan and Robert Malone took the boys 4x100 relay in 42.80.

In field event action, the throws produced double victors on both the girls and boys side as F.W. Cox senior Lindsay Neuberger defended her title in the girls shot put (47-6.5) and broke her own meet record in the discus throw (131-6) while Robinson junior Steve Huntzinger won the boys shot (57-1.75) and just missed the discus meet record with his win at 169-0 with Jim Tiller of L.C.Bird (164-3) and Chris Widhalm (161-7) also over 160 feet.

The boys horizontal jumps had John Bailey of CHHT the winner at 22-8.25 with William Fleming\'s Calvin Bannister second (22-4.5) while the triple jump saw Bannister\'s William Fleming teammate Ryan McCoy claiming that title at 47-6.75. The girls triple jump had girls outstanding field event performer winner Yvette Lewis of Denbigh explode to the win at 40-8 with defending champion Amy Seward of Salem second in the triple (39-7.75) and winning the long jump by almost a foot at 18-7 to set a new meet record.

The girls high jump winner was Oakton senior Bonnie Meekins at 5-4 with Lewis of Denbigh second, also at 5-4, while senior Keith Moffatt of Menchville won the boys high jump title for the second year in a row (6-10). The girls pole vault had Kira Barcus of Atlee the winner on misses over defending champion Alicia LaRoche of Centreville as both cleared 11-6 to break LaRoche\'s record set last year of 11-0 and junior Chip Heuser of St. Xavier won the boys vault at a new meet record height of 15-6 with seniors Daniel Garrett of Great Bridge second (15-0) and Centreville\'s David Sullivan in third place (15-0).

Note: Wrote for