All photos by Ryan Kelly
Isaiah Simmons of Woodbridge earlier this winter competed in an All-Comers meet at the Prince George County Sports & Learning Complex and recorded a huge VA #2 all-time mark of 66'3.25" in the shot put. However, the performance was not verified with results until last week when results were posted on the Potomac Valley Track club website. Simmons further verified that performance with another big throw and this time in a sanctioned high school meet on Saturday at the St. Christopher's Invitational. The defending Group AAA state indoor and outdoor champion rocked the fieldhouse at St. Christopher's with a US #3 mark of 65'0.50".
His two big marks this indoor season put him in contention to become the greatest shot put thrower ever in Virginia High School history. His mark earlier this winter at PG put him ahead of one of the greatest ever in Bayside's Dan Krueger on the indoor all-time list. Krueger had 6 marks over 62 feet during the 1978 indoor season including a 65'5.50" best. It is not Krueger, but West Springfield's Nick Welihozkiy who Simmons will now be chasing after for the Virginia high school state indoor record of 66'11.25" set in 1998.
Western Branch's Keilah Tyson looked to have bettered her 300 personal best with a time well under 40 seconds on a flat track, but she was disqualified for taking too many steps inside her lane. Her time unofficially was FAT timed at 39.68, which would have ranked her US #11. As a result of Tyson's DQ, Breanna Walker of Osbourn Park was declared the event winner at 41.13.
Taylor Clevinger of St. Catherine's continues to impress this indoor season as she joined a short list of girls under 3 minutes for 1000 meters this indoor season with a five second victory at a US #16 2:58.49 for the University of Richmond recruit. Jamestown's Natalie Sukramani edged Midlothian freshmen Kari Johnston by the narrowest of margins for second place in a fast race produced by Clevinger's pacing with two others at 3:03 in Lafayette's Heidi Peterson (4th, 3:03.41) and Douglas Freeman's Sarah Thornhill (5th, 3:03.59).
The Bethel girls had a very productive meet in the sprint relays as they seriously challenged the top ranked but not complete "A" team Western Branch girls in the 4x200 meter relay with Bethel running a season best of a US #10 1:43.71 on the heels of state meet favorites Western Branch (1st, 1:43.66). The Bethel girls came back later to end their meet on a high note with a US #7 time of 3:56.65 in the 4x400 meter relay as they won unchallenged by a 11 second margin.
Two of Bethel's relay members in Maya Moore and Jazmine Wright performed well individually in the 500 meter dash as only Forest Park's Brianna Krumholz (2nd, 1:18.05) was able to split the two from a sweep of first and second place with Moore as the winner at 1:17.24 and Wright in third at 1:18.76. Bethel now has three girls ranked among the top 20 in the nation in the 500 meter dash with Rashaun Combs (US #12 1:17.14), Maya Moore (US #13 1:17.24), and Jazmine Wright (US #20 1:17.96).
US triple jump leader Desmonae Gray of Western Branch was not able to better her national best mark of 39'9.75", but still achieved another win with her mark of 38'2" to add onto her second place finish in the 55 meter dash behind teammate Shakia Williams on Friday night.
W.T. Woodson senior Kerchina Johnson finished a distant 12th place in the state outdoor meet last June, but this winter has been positioning herself to finish much higher in her next state meet competition and potential compete for a state title. After recently throwing over 40 feet for the first time last week at a Thomas Jefferson Community Center meet in Alexandria at 40'3.50", Johnson won her specialty at St. Christopher's with a field best mark of 39'9.75".
The Atkinson twins from Atlee High School both enjoyed a victorious day with Michael Atkinson taking charge early in the fast section of the 500 with a US #10 performance of 1:06.15, while Marques Atkinson ran a personal best of 36.02 to win from a slower section of the 300 meter dash. The Atkinson figure to be in the fast section of the 500 meter dash at the Group AAA State Indoor Meet again and Atlee's state team title hopes will rest heavily in big points from the twins who have two of the top four fastest times in the state this season. After racing in different events individually, the Atkinson twins joined together with two other Atlee teammates for their 4x400 meter relay at meet's end to run a state best time of 3:26.79, which is an encouraging performance for a state title run.
With five competitors over 45 feet, the boys' triple jump at St. Christopher's was one of the best meets this season for the event. US #6 performer and current state leader Marcus Dean of Western Branch was just off his season best mark by half an inch with his winning leap of 47'4" at St. Christopher's. Dean defeated two of Group AA's best who had a competition between themselves within a competition as they measured up against one another in Charlottesville's David Johnson and Louisa County's Tony Green.
Green is more well-known thanks to his shocking Group AAA state indoor title last year while at Patrick Henry-Ashland, but Johnson's success this season should have been expected after finishing second in the Group AAA State Outdoor Meet only as a sophomore. Johnson got the best of Green (3rd, 46'0") this weekend with his personal best mark of 46'7.50", but the two talented jumpers will be seeing a lot of each other in the coming weeks competing in the same district and region before the Group AA State Meet in Lynchburg.
In a matchup between two of the state's most talented distance runners in Jeremy Greenwald of Grassfield and Brayden Burleigh of Midlothian, Greenwald won convincingly with a PR time of 4:18.31 to follow up his US #1 2:29.76 1000 two weeks ago. Greenwald has a lot of flexibility which race to compete in at the state meet as his season best times in the 1000, 1600, and 3200 put him as one of the top seeds in all three of the available distance races.
Ben Constable of St. Christopher's was attempting to make it a double sweep in the 1000 meter run for the host schools in St. Christopher's and St. Catherine's like both schools achieved the night before in the 4x800 meter relays. Constable was not able to follow up Taylor Clevinger's win in the girls 1000 with a first place finish of his own because Jake Zimmerman of L.C. Bird came through with a one of the faster times by a Central Region runner this season at 2:35.79. Constable was a second behind as runner-up at 2:36.90, but expects to be challenging for first again at the VISAA State Indoor Championships and Prep League Championships in the 1000 if not the 500 meter dash.