Times heat up indoors at FUMA to battle cold outdoors

FORK UNION, VA - Despite a few teams not being able to make it to the Fork Union Invitational due to school closings Friday because of the snow storm, the majority of the teams entered in the meet made the trek to Fork Union to make for one exciting day of track and field.

Both team titles were won by Maryland squads as Dematha boys (61.50 pts) and Largo girls (90 pts) relied on their great depth in the sprints. Coming away with runner-up honors in the team competition were the Gar-Field boys (54.5 pts) and Kellam girls (40 pts). The Gar-Field boys were able to score in the majority of the sprint and field events to help their cause, while Kellam relied heavily on their distance crew with some assistance from other events.

Potomac Senior\'s Joe Robinson proved last week\'s national leading clocking in the 55 meter dash was no fluke as he defeated a strong field in the 55 meter dash with a swift 6.37 clocking.

The boys\' 500 meter dash was an exciting race to watch as it featured distance runner Alex Tatu of Thomas Dale dropping down to try his luck in the sprint event. In the first lap, Tatu was cut off and tripped as Tatu then nearly hit the track, but was able to catch his fall. However, the near fall dropped him to the back as he then fought up to the front to take the lead on the next lap with a lap to go. However, Tatu was then ran down with less than 100 meters left by Dematha\'s Antoine Washington who went onto win in a time of 1:09.05 as Tatu took second at 1:09.82.

Another exciting finish was found in the boys\' 1000 meter run as James River senior Jimmy Picard led the lead pack for much of the race, but was overtaken at the end by a hard charging Alec Lorenzoni of Western Albemarle as Lorenzoni (2:41.62) took the victory.

Trying to go after the great Senecca Lassister\'s meet record of 4:19 in the 1600 meter run, Fork Union senior Kippy Keino put up a gutsy effort as he just missed breaking the mark. Keino, typically one who runs positive splits in the mile as he likes to punish the field with a fast pace early, took a different approach in this race as he ran a pretty much even split race as he went through 400 meters in 65 seconds and 800 meters in 2:10 to finish up the next half in nearly the same time for an overall time of 4:20.34.

Keino doubled back in the 3200 meters in what would be an exciting matchup between two of the top distance harriers in the state with Keino and Green Run junior Walters. Keino let Walters set the pace for much of the race, before making his move to break away from Walters with close to a quarter mile left in the race. Keino won the race with a time of 9:41.80 as Walters was runner-up as he just missed an automatic state qualifier in the event by .13 with his time of 9:43.57.

Gar-Field had a very good showing in the sprint relays as the Indians won in the 4x200 meter relay (1:35.43), while finishing second to Dematha in the 4x400 meter relay (3:36.00).

Thomas Dale won the 4x800 meter relay (8:37.4) thanks to an anchor leg from Alex Tatu as he took the lead and cruised it in from there for the win.

The Gar-Field boys, runners-up in the team battle, got lots of production out of the field event athletes as two of them were event winners with Jarmel Latney in the high jump (6-2) and Darren Garrigan in the long jump (22-3.75).

Tony Gough from the small school of Buckingham County, had one of the best throws in the shot put in the state so far this season as he eclipsed the 50 foot mark by a wide margin with his toss of 53-8.50.

Two of the best in the state in their respective events, both Dinwiddie\'s Wayne Odom (13-0) in the pole vault and William Fleming\'s Ryan McCoy (46-11.50) in the triple jump were event winners.

The Largo girls dominated every event from the 55 meter dash up to the 500 meter dash with individual race winners in each. However, a few Virginians had standout performances in those events.

Potomac Senior sophomore Kharya Brown was the top Virginian finisher in both the 55 meter dash (3rd, 7.51) and 300 meter dash (2nd, 42.66) with strong times.

Afua Amponsah of Gar-Field continues to impress in the 55 meter hurdles as she took another major win in her specialty with a blowing away the field time of 8.31.

The Kellam girls\' 4x800 meter relay team of Tiffany Howell, Jessica Smith, Kelley Taylor, and Natalie Sherbak who last week posted the state\'s fastest time at CNU with a 9:39 clocking, continued to appear to be the state\'s top relay as the shattered the meet record in the event with their winning time of 9:52.10.

The girls\' distance events had some of the strongest fields yet brought together this season.

In the girls\' 1600 meter run, Fauquier sophomore Sarah Bowman broke away from the field earlier on as she blazed through the first 800 meters in 2:28 as she held onto win in a time of 5:05.74 as she won by over 10 seconds against a competive field that included the likes of Jemissa Hess of C.D. Hylton (2nd, 5:16.12), Ginna Ellis of Norfolk Academy (3rd, 5:19.83), Jennifer Beury of Hidden Valley (4th, 5:20.33), Jessica Fanning of Western Albemarle (5th, 5:20.45), and Kelley Taylor of Kellam (6th, 5:21.53) rounding out a loaded top six finishers in the race.

Bowman usually a pace setting race leader in all of her races took a different approach in the 1000 meter run as she laid back with the pack through the entire race. This opportunity gave way to Kellam\'s Natalie Sherbak as set the pace from the get go and never relinquished the lead as she won in an incredible time of 3:01.85. Bowman, closed strong at the end as she passed several runners to take runner-up behind Sherbak with still an impressive clocking of 3:03.64. The girls\' 1000 was also another stacked field like the 1600 was with Shylan Bumbrey of James Monroe (3rd, 3:06.09) Hess of Hylton (4th, 3:06.41), Tasmin Fanning of Western Albemarle (5th, 3:07.22), and Taylor of Kellam (6th, 3:08.36) making the race one of the best on the day in terms of quality of competition and times.

Martinsville freshman Anna Chase made a bold move in the 3200 meter run as she shot out into the lead on the first lap and pushed the first few laps with some faster than ideal race pace splits. However, the strategy paid off as she put too much distance between herself and Hidden Valley\'s Jennifer Beury (2nd, 11:23.40) and Norfolk Academy\'s Ginna Ellis (3rd, 11:30.60) for either to be able to chase her down the last mile as Chase took the victory in a time of 11:20.20.

Just think what Pulaski County\'s Brenna Blevins could do if she actually practiced. With volleyball being her primary sport during the winter, she has little time for track practice. However after getting a few jumps in Friday at practice, she was ready to go Saturday at Fork Union as she won the high jump at 5-6.

Prince Edward County\'s Octavia Best was the best in the horizontal jumps as she took wins in both the long jump (17-9.25) and triple jump (36-3.25).

Gar-Field\'s Tiffany Evans continues to destroy any competition in her path as she remained undefeated for the season with her winning toss of 45-2 in the shot put.