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BLACKSBURG, VA -- Thank God for Dan Ward and his crew for stepping up to the plate and hosting the Virginia Tech High School Invitational this weekend as the performances showed that the future of this meet would be in the best interest of the state of Virginia and the U.S. high school track and field world to remain in existence. The biggest news out of the meet was Bethel senior Francena McCorory setting a new national record in the 300 meter dash as she clocked an all out effort performance of 36.59 in the event. The meet also included nine US #1 performances at the Rector Fieldhouse 200 meter banked indoor track including five Virginians in McCorory\'s 300, Catherine White of Northside in the 3200 meter run (10:39.66), Charles Clark of Bayside in the 300 meter dash (34.25), and Ashley Gatling of Deep Creek in the high jump (5\'9\"). Many other national elite and state leaderboard performances were performed by Virginians as well as athletes from Maryland and North Carolina.
In the performance of the meet and weekend for the national high school scene, McCorory got to work out some jitters as the runners in the fast heat of the 300 meter dash where called back shortly after the timing system failed to start after the gun went off. With a better second start, McCorory powered her way into the first curve and down the homestretch for a powerful first half of the race. After hitting 23 seconds for 200 meters, McCorory tightened up on backstretch but was strong enough to bring it home in a new national record performance of 36.96.
The 300 meter dash was not the only event of the day for McCorory nor was it the first as she anchored Bethel\'s 4x200 meter relay earlier in the day to a US #2 performance of 1:40.33 to finish second behind US #1 Eleanor Roosevelt of Maryland. McCorory anchored again later in the day for Bethel\'s third place 4x400 meter relay (3:54.61).
Charles Clark of Bayside is definitely our state\'s top male sprinter after his performances this weekend if there was any doubt going into this weekend. The senior posted the nation\'s fastest time in the 300 meter dash with a time of 34.46. Later in the day on Saturday, Clark looked like he may knock off Brandon Brooks of North Carolina in the 60 meter dash but pulled up lame in the final strides. Despite incurring the hamstring injury in the later portion of the race, Clark still was able to post a fast time of 6.84 to take runner-up honors.
Northside junior Catherine White dominated the two distance events she ran this past weekend at Tech. In Friday night\'s 3200 meter run, White set a brisk pace that no other runner was willing to follow en route to her new US #1 time of 10:39.66. White scorched the first 1600 in 5:11, which would place her third in Saturday\'s 1600 meter race. In Saturday\'s race, White was a winner once again as she posted a state leading time of 4:56.42.
Forest Park senior and Syracuse University bound Stefanie Slekis completed a solid double of her own in the two races as well finishing third in the 3200 meter run at 11:02.46 and second in the 1600 meter run at 5:02.87. For Slekis, this weekend was the strongest double she has ever ran since her sophomore year of outdoor track at states where she posted identical times of a 5:02 1600 and 11:02 3200.
Virginia features two of the nation\'s top high jumpers as shown in Saturday\'s high jump competition for the girls. Deep Creek junior Ashley Gatling, a former state champion in the event, became the first girl in the nation to successfully clear 5\'9\" as she was hard pressed by Huguenot\'s Wanetta Kirby, who finished second overall at a height of 5\'7\".
Angela Jenkins earlier in the season held the US #1 mark in the triple jump. While the Buffalo Gap senior may no longer hold the nation\'s leading performance in the event, she came away from Tech\'s meet with a huge personal best for herself and a US #2 performance of 40\'2.75\".
In Friday night\'s girls 4x800 meter relay, spectators got a glimpse of two of the top distance programs in the Southeast region with Maryland\'s Eleanor Roosevelt girls and Virginia\'s own Midlothian. Roosevelt led through the first two legs, but M.C. Miller gave Midlothian the lead heading into the final exchange over Roosevelt. However, with the nation\'s leading 500 meter runner on anchor with Tameka Jameson, there was not much Midlothian\'s Jessica Oakley could do to hold the lead. Jameson scorched the track on anchor leg as she brought home the win for Eleanor Roosevelt in a US #2 time of 9:17.24. Meanwhile, the Midlothian girls finished second with a state leading time of 9:24.82 and just outside of being ranked top five in the nation.
In the boys\' relay race, Eleanor Roosevelt appeared to have another 4x800 win locked up before James Robinson\'s Mark Hussa motored down the Eleanor Roosevelt anchor to give James Robinson the win in a state best time of 8:00.43 over Eleanor Roosevelt at 8:02.15. Sudddenly, the Rams of James Robinson find themselves in the driver\'s seat for the Group AAA state crown as they were seven seconds better than an E.C. Glass squad (3rd, 8:07.51) comprised of Carlton Phipps and Patterson Wilhem.
Another note from the race was Mike Spooner\'s incredible second leg to run down several solid runners including Wilhelm with a 1:56 split. For Spooner, the 4x800 meter relay would be his first of two races within an hour as he also competed in the 3200 meter run not too long after his 4x800 leg.
In the 16 lap event, Georgetown Prep\'s (MD) Steve Duplinsky set a brutally fast pace early on as he went through the 1600 meter run in 4:24. No Virginian in his right mind was willing to chase Duplinsky as the chase pack comprised of the likes of Zac Edwards, Mike Spooner, Thomas Porter, and Jason Witt went through the halfway point roughly 17 to 18 seconds behind Duplinsky at 4:41-4:42. While Duplinsky slowed considerable from his pace early on, he still finished with an outstanding US #1 time of 9:08.23. Matt Keally could then take comfort that the Georgetown Prep senior had not taken down a second record of his as Duplinsky shattered the William & Mary senior\'s course record at the William & Mary Invitational this past October.
Meanwhile, Edwards broke away from the pack in the final 800 meters and the Northside senior was able to hold onto second with a personal best and state leading time of 9:27.07. Spooner on the other hand probably had the gutsiest performance of the night to come back from running the 4x800 in such a short period of time to finish strong in the 3200 with an indoor personal best time of 9:27.69.
Virginia\'s future looks bright in the event with a Spooner as a junior and Mountain View freshmen Thomas Porter posting the nation\'s fastest time among freshmen in the event at 9:29.34 for sixth place and Midlothian sophomore Jason Witt taking seventh place in 9:31.82.
Karjuan Williams of New Bern (NC) set a new meet record in the 500 meter dash as well as posting the US #2 all-time in the event with his smoking time of 1:02.80. Williams already had held the US #2 time of the year in the 400 meter dash heading into the meet and now finds himself top ranked in the 500 meter dash for the season. Virginia\'s top finisher in the event was E.C. Glass senior Carlton Phipps as Phipps ran a big personal best clocking of 1:04.59.
Another US #1 was posted in the girls\' 500 meter run as Tameka Jameson of Eleanor Roosevelt currently held the top time in the nation already but improved upon that time with her 1:12.40 clocking at Tech. Her time also moved her up on the US all-time list to #4. Nakeisha Wineglass of Hayfield had the fastest time among Virginians as she posted a time of 1:18.16 out of a slower heat to finish fourth overall. Wineglass also took second in the triple jump at 39\'6\".
In the boys\' 1000 meter run, many of the state\'s top tier distance runners seemed to opt out for other events, but that did not stop South County junior Jeff Miller and Colonial Forge senior Dan Leyh to put on an exciting race to watch. Miller took possession of the lead fairly early on and led through 800 meters in 2:04. On the backstretch, Leyh turned it on to take the lead from Miller as the two runners were sprinting all out through the final curve. On the homestretch, Miller swung wide and was able to regain the lead from Leyh and take the win in a final time of 2:32.81 with Leyh taking second 2:33.27.
While the meet definitely benefited from having the out of state competition as shown with the US #1\'s posted by several athletes and relays from Maryland and North Carolina, the 1000 meter run definitely was missing the state\'s top athlete in the event with Axel Mostrag as he ran 2:33 on an unbanked 160 meter indoor track earlier in the season. There is no question that Mostrag could put together a sub 2:30 effort and national leading time if given the chance to compete on a indoor track like the one found at Tech.
The 1600 meter run was certainly not lacking some of the state\'s best runners as Hermitage senior Alex Bowman came away from the race as Virginia\'s top miler. Bowman led virtually wire to wire in winning the 1600 meter run with a personal best and state leading time of 4:17.88. Bowman won by nearly seven seconds over his nearest competitor in Patterson Wilhelm of E.C. Glass at 4:24.05. Meanwhile, Jason Driscoll of Battlefield had an excellent race out of a slower heat to finish third overall in a time of 4:24.15.
Theresa Lewis of Western High School in Baltimore, Maryland took it to Virginia\'s best in the 60 meter hurdles as she dominated the finals of the event with a 8.61 clocking. Virginia certainly had the best the state had to offer with Wanetta Kirby of Huguenot (2nd, 8.95), Chantill Harvey of Deep Creek (3rd, 8.98), and Kali Watkins of Menchville (4th, 9.01) rounding out the next three places after Lewis.
In the boys\' 55 meter hurdles, North Carolina and Maryland ruled the event with five of the top seven finishers. New Bern\'s (NC) Darryl Reynolds took first in the finals with a photo finish over Parkland\'s Dewayne Chandler as both athletes were clocked at 8.10. Virginia\'s top finisher was Brookville\'s Ethan Nixon finishing fifth in 8.23. Nixon\'s performance was outstanding given he is only a sophomore. Huguenot senior McArthur Henley also qualified and competed in Saturday\'s finals with a sixth place effort of 8.26.
Westfield sophomore Tasia Potasinski had a breakthrough race in the 1000 meter run as she pulled away from early race leader M.C. Miller of Midlothian (3rd, 3:00.81) and Tasha Stanley of Eleanor Roosevelt (2nd, 3:00.33) as she dipped under three minutes in posting the state\'s fastest time of the year at 2:59.21.
While teammate McCorory took all the glory rightfully so with her national record breaking performance in the 300 meter dash, Crystal Carrington of Bethel had good reason to be proud of her feat at Tech as well in winning the 60 meter dash with an impressive time of 7.71 in Saturday\'s finals.
In Friday\'s pole vault competition for the girls, Western Albemarle senior Ashley Early came in at a height of 11\'6\" as the final competitors last successfully cleared 10\'6\" with Heritage\'s Carolyn Lewis (2nd), Chantilly\'s Nicole Kazuba (3rd), and RJ Reynold\'s Joanna Wright (4th). Early got a scare of possibly getting a no height as she was unable to successfully clear 11\'6\" on her first two attempts. However, Early was able to clear the height on a nerve-racking and final third attempt to win the event.
The Charlottesville area swept the pole vault competition as Charlottesville junior John Intollubbe-Chmil cleared 13\'6\" as he was a foot better than runner-up Daniel Inge of E.C. Glass at 12\'6\".
For Heritage\'s Lewis, the pole vault competition was her first of two runner-up finishes at Virginia Tech. In Saturday\'s long jump, Lewis took a close second in the long jump with a mark of 18\'7.75\" to Centreville sophomore Brittni Finch. Finch, who currently holds the state\'s leading mark at 19\'7\", had a best jump of 18\'10.25\". Only a sophomore, Finch certainly holds a bright future in the event.
While Queen Harrison did not win any events at Virginia Tech, her performances at Tech were a positive sign of things to come from the Hermitage senior as she continues to work herself back to pre-collarbone injury form. Harrison finished third in the triple jump at 39\'3.25\" and long jump at 18\'5.75\" as well as fourth in the 300 meter dash (39.59).
With defending Group AAA state champion Kathy Howard absent from the meet, Christiansburg senior Hope Creasy had a cakewalk win in the shot put wit her top throw of 40\'11\".
South County nearly had two event winners with Miller winning the 1000 meter run and junior Chris Bartholomew taking second in the high jump at 6\'4\" for the new Fairfax County school.
The two Virginians expected to contend in the long jump in Granby\'s Chris Bell and Phoebus\' Corey Vinson were no shows in Saturday\'s event, but Liberty senior Mattias Meyer and Toriano Moody senior Indian River certainly came prepared to have big meets as the posted big marks of 23\'5\" and 23\"0.25\" to take first and second respectively in the event. With both athletes becoming the first two jumpers to hit marks over 23 feet, they find themselves ranked first and second in the currently.
The potential for the Manchester boys to make headwaves at the Group AAA State Meet in March increased with Antonio Miller\'s state leading performance of 47\'4.25\" to win the triple jump competition on Friday evening at Tech.
Devan Clark was a surprise winner in the shot put as he defeated Eastern Region favorites Ryan Gordon of Woodside (54\'1.75\" and Jaymes Brooks of Denbigh (53\'11\") to take the shot put event with a best throw of 54\'10.00\".
Virginia was shut out from first place finishes in the final event of the day in the 4x400 meter relay with Maryland\'s Dematha Catholic boys (3:17.59) and Eleanor Roosevelt girls (3:48.04) posting US #1 times, but the Menchville girls (2nd, 3:51.19) and Westfield boys (3:21.66) definitely well represented the state with strong finishes and times. The Huguenot boys (4th, 3:21.81) also posted a sizzling time.