1A State Meet Girls Preview: Buffalo Gap & Jenkins look to defend title against James Monroe duo

RADFORD, VA -- The VHSL Group A State Meet, which will be held this Saturday at Radford University, should be a good one with plenty of great teams and individuals vying for state titles. The team title on the girls\' side could be determined by the performances of some of their star athletes. It appears to be a two way team battle between last year\'s state champs and state runners-up in Buffalo Gap and James Monroe.

Defending Group A champions Buffalo Gap returns with star jumper Angela Jenkins who nearly won four state titles last year. Jenkins will be the overwhelming favorite to win both the long jump and triple jump as she is nearly a foot ahead of the nearest competitor, Patrick Henry senior Danielle Hounshell (17-11) in the long jump at 18-10.50, while two feet ahead of the second seed, Chilhowie freshmen Tenaicia Smith (36-10.25), in the triple jump at 38-10.75 this year. She\'ll have a tougher go in the 100 meter dash to defend her title as she is the third seed at 12.44. The high jump, an event in which she placed third in a year ago, Jenkins finds herself as the sixth seed at 5-3. Jenkins is also seeded 7th in the 200 meter dash at 26.15.

Jenkins will need help from her teammates though in order for her squad to repeat as state champions and there are a handful of individuals who could pick up the points they need to do just that. Sophomore distance runner Mariah Hagadone should pick up points in the 1600 meter and 800 meter run as she is seeded fourth (5:19.15) and third (2:23.60) respectively in each event. Ashley Conroy will also be counted on for point production. She will be in the hunt in the high jump as she is tied with four other competitors at 5-4. Conroy can also score points in the hurdles as is seeded fifth in the 100 (15.96) and fourth in the 300 (48.71) meter hurdles. The relays could be key for Buffalo Gap to secure the win with their 4x100 (3rd seed, 51.79) and 4x400 (5th seed, 4:16.11) meter relays.

The James Monroe girls finished in a distant second at last year\'s meet to Buffalo Gap by over 50 points. The gap should be a lot closer this year thanks to an improved squad with the addition of Courtland transfer Marie Fields. Fields was a state runner-up in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes last year as a junior at Courtland High School in Group AA. At James Monroe this spring in Group A, Fields will be going for the win in both events. Fields is the fastest entry in the 200 meter dash at 25.03 and second fastest seed at 12.28 in the 100 meter dash. Neither event will be easily to win though for Fields as there are viable competitors in both events. Jenkins will definitely want to defend her title in the 100 meter dash, while Goochland senior Whitney Key (12.53 100m, 25.71 200m) and James River junior Brittany Chambers (12.26 100m, 25.74 200m) also will make for a competitive field. The individual that has kept James Monroe as one of the more prominent Group A track teams over the past few years is five-time Group A state indvidual champion Shylan Bumbrey. Bumbrey will be looking to add onto that number as she can possibly win three events this Saturday. The University of Kentucky bound senior has posted personal bests in both the 400 (57.06) and 800 (2:12.46) meter races this spring as she is the top seed in both. Bumbrey should win the 400 with ease as she is the top seed in the event by three seconds.

However, Bumbrey will have to show great strength to overcome racing against a fresh Ashton Bishop of Gate City in the 800 meter run. Bishop boasts a season best of 2:14 and has opted to not race in other events that she could very well win to race fresh against Bumbrey. As a freshmen at last year\'s state meet, Bishop won the high jump (5-4), 1600 meter run (5:16.59), and 300 meter hurdles (45.46) as well as taking runner-up honors to Bumbrey in the 800 meter run (2:25.14) to single handedly propel her team to a fourth place finish. Bishop will be looking to pick up her first state title in the 800 meter run, while sacrificing defending her title in the 1600 meter run and 300 meter hurdles. She will have a chance to defend her state title in high jump as she is top seed at a 5-5 season best clearance.

The James Monroe girls also should pick up a possible additional 20 points as they have the top times in both the 4x100 (49.92) and 4x400 (3:59.73) meter relays. With Fields on the 4x100 meter relay and Bumbrey on the 4x400 meter relay, James Monroe will have a strong leg on each to make sure they cross the line in first place.

The girls\'distance races should be very interesting with several runners vying for the state crown. In the 1600 meter run, four runners seem to be in the hunt with last year\'s state runner-up Ashley Osborne of John Battle (5:13.95), 2003 state champion Kelly Clark of Glenvar (5:14.03), 2004 cross country state champion Danielle Moyer of Clarke County (5:08.87), and Region B Meet champion Maria Hagadone (5:19.15). Moyer looks to be the favorite as the freshmen had an impressive runner-up showing at the Southern Track Classic to clock her season best time. Clark will be looking to regain her state title from two years ago and get revenge on Moyer from stopping her from successfully defending her cross country state title this past fall.

In the 3200 meter run, John Battle senior Ashley Osborne (11:35.67). is the defending state champion, but she is reeling from a decisive defeat at the Region C Meet from Glenvar\'s Clark (11:27.91). In last year\'s race, Osborne (11:47.50) narrowly defeated Clark (11:47.85). Region B Meet champion Nina Pfeiffer of Strasburg should also be in race contention as she posted a time of 11:35.67 last week.

With defending 300 meter hurdles state champion Ashton Bishop opting to skip the event to stay fresh for the 800 meter run, the event is left open for last year\'s runner-up Laurie Hines of Strasburg to take the title. Hines will be favored as the top seed at 46.35 as she recently posted her time in a win at the Region B Meet. Hines will also be favored in the 100 meter hurdles as last year\'s third place state meet finisher enters with the fastest time at 15.36.

Among Group A girls, their greatest strength lies in the throwing events as many of the top throwers rank among the state\'s best regardless of classification. Giles senior Susan Lucas is the clear cut favorite in the shot put as her season best throw of 43-03.25 ranks third in the state (AAA, AA, A, and private). The mark puts the defending state champion a full five ahead of her nearest competitor in Patrick Henry senior Sarah Moore (38-02.75). The discus throw should be a much more competitive event with three girls having throws over 120 feet in Radford senior Whitney King (128-08), Chilhowie junior Michelle Heath (124-09), and Clarke County senior Abby Lemon (124-05). King is the defending state champion in the event.