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LANDOVER, MD -- The 2006 edition of the Nike Indoor Nationals was a meet filled with outstanding performances that the state of Virginia had a large role in contributing to. In particular, the lone national record that was broken in meet came from Bethel senior Francena McCorory as she broke a 400 meter national title that was set on one of the fastest 200 meter banked tracks in America at the New York Armory. However, McCorory did not let an unbanked 200 meter track surface found at the Prince George County Sports and Learning Complex deter her from shattering the mark set in 2002 by Sanya Richard at 52.10. Her time of 51.93 was by far the greatest performance of the meet and to many respected long-time members of the track and field community as one of the greatest high school races of all time. McCorory\'s time of 51.93 would have won the NCAA Division I Championships in the event this weekend. Even without McCorory\'s performance, Virginia was looking pretty with an impressive medeal count of seven national titles and 13 national runner-up performances to go along with many more top six All-American honors.
In Saturday\'s preliminary heat of the 400 meter dash, McCorory cruised to a first place finish in her race and auotmatic qualification for Sunday\'s finals in a time of 54.89. With only a previous personal best of 54.54 in the open 400 and the time came from an outdoor meet, one might expect at best a high 52 or low 53 at best was waiting for McCorory in the finals. Did she ever catch everyone off guard in Saturday\'s finals. Blasting through the first 200 meters with last year\'s US #1 400 meter outdoor runner Sa\'ade Williams running right off of her. McCorory blew her and the rest of a solid field away through the curve and down the homestretch to power herself to the line in a mind boggling time of 51.93. Williams would become a distance runner-up in a sprint event at 55.43. It is a very rare instance at a national meet where an event 400 meters or below sees a margin of greater than two seconds much less one. However, McCorory simply crushed the field by a 3.5 second margin.
McCorory also came to Nike Indoor Nationals to take care of some team business. After having to watch her team take runner-up honors at the state meet to Salem in the 4x200 meter relay as Coach Eddie Williams maximized the most points out of McCorory having her compete in and win three individual events, the Bethel girls came loaded up against their Eastern Region rivals on Sunday. After teammate Crystal Carrington put them out in front with a key opening leg, McCorory blew the door down on second leg and opened up a commanding lead over the field to give third and fourth legs Shakia Forbes and Essynce Roberts all the room they needed to bring home the win and national title in a time of 1:39.52 to break a meet record set in 2004 by James Logan High School of Union City, California.
Superman was in the building this weekend as he put on his Bayside track uniform to show that he is as fast as speeding bullet as Bayside senior capped off what had been an injury marred season earlier with a national title and national runner-up performance. After qualifying through two rounds of heats for the finals of the 60 meter dash, Clark dropped his team from each round to a 6.75 clocking in the finals as he took a close second to Ahmad Rashad (No, not the NBA TV analyst) of Michigan as Rashad pulled just ahead at 6.73. Indian River senior Toriano Moody joined his fellow Eastern Region sprinter on the All-American podium after a fourth place finishing time of 6.92 in the finals.
After taking the close second in the 60 meter dash finals, Clark was hungry to get that first national title in the finals of the 200 meter dash since he had posted the quickest time in Saturday\'s preliminaries at 21.96 as the only competitor to dip under 22 seconds. In Sunday\'s finals, Clark was still the only athlete to go under 22 seconds in the event at the meet but at an even faster clipping of 21.69 to win the short sprint convincingly. Another Virginian earned All-American status in the event as Appomattox County senior Raschad kelso claimed third place overall in the slower seeded finals heat of two at a 22.09 clocking.
The state has had great high jumpers over the years with the likes of current AAA state record holder Keith Moffatt of Menchville and current AA state record holder Adam Linkenauger of Lord Botetourt and while Marlon Woods has yet to join the seven foot clearance club with two forementioned jumpers, he did join a very elite class of athletes that call themselves national champions as he took top honors in the high jump competition with a clearance of 6\'8.75\". Woods upset a favored Anthony Bryant of Albemarle at the AAA State Meet last weekend for his first state title and his future looks quite promising in the event with a lot of raw potential still there. He can add a national championship to his state title in what has been a whirlwind two weeks for the Booker T. Washington senior from Norfolk.
Virginian boys could have had a possible second national champion out of the field events at NIN, but Great Bridge senior Mike Morrison had to settle for a very respectable national runner-up spot to share with Jordan Scott of Georgia as both athletes successfully cleared 17 feet as Scott Roth of California cleared 17\'4.25\" on his fourth attempt at the height after being granted the additional vault due to improper standard placement on an earlier attempt by officials. Morrison and Scott were going to a tiebreaker jumpoff for the national title prior to the error by officials. The pole vault competition definitely had the Prince George complex rocking as spectators were given a great show of one of the deeper high school pole vault fields ever assembled.
Some had written St. Catherine\'s senior Katie Doswell off as she fizzled in her junior year of outdoors. Even after posting some solid times this indoor season, some still were not giving her credit or believed she was competing at her 2:47 1000 meter indoors level from a year ago. Well how does a national championship in the 800 meter run sound to show that the Duke University bound senior is definitely back and competing at a higher level than ever before as Doswell won in exciting fashion as she ran down the race leader on the final lap and took the lead for good to finish in a time of 2:10.55. Doswell\'s resiliency is unquestionable as shown by her inspiring performance at the LIS Championships to compete and win in the 3200 meter run after undergoing a scary car crash on the morning of the meet and with her national title win this year at Nike Indoor Nationals in the 800 meter run and improving upon her fifth place finish from a year ago.
The future definitely looks bright for Virginia distance running as both champions in the freshmen mile races reigned from the Old Dominion. Both runners happen to be part of sometimes overlooked Northwest Region in Group AAA as well in freshmen Thomas Porter of Mountain View and Michelle Britto of Woodbridge. Porter came into the race with plenty of fanfare as he had owned the nation\'s fastest 1600 and 3200 meter times earlier in the season to go along with a sensational cross country season in which he earned All-State honors and won the Foot Locker South freshmen race. Porter certainly lived up to his billing as he set the pace through much of the race only to see Andrew Springer catch him and run stride for stride on the backstretch. However, Porter did not quit until he crossed the line in first with a time of 4:28.14 as he was just ahead of Springer at 4:28.23.
Meanwhile, Britto has been under the radar by many being part of fiercely competitive underclassmen classes found within the state on the girls\' side. However, Britto\'s turn to shine came at Nike Indoors as she took the national title in the freshmen mile out of the slow heat in a time of 5:12.12 as she had plenty of push to the line by Juliet Bottorff, who finished second overall behind Britto at 5:12.37. Chantilly\'s Lia DiValentin competed in the top heat and had a breakthrough race to finish second and fourth overall in a time of 5:15.61 to give Virginia two All-Americans in the event. Midlothian\'s Paige Johnston just missed the cut at 5:17.93 and .13 of a second off from sixth place in seventh.
Having posted one of the fastest unbanked 4x200 meter relay times in the nation at the Eastern Region Meet held at CNU in February, the Deep Creek boys certainly looked to prove they could be ontop again after a disappointing opening leg fall at the Group AAA State Meet kept them from winning a state title in the event. Opening leg Quintin Moore set the tone handing off to Konrad Fitzgerald with the lead. Deep Creek was never challenged for the lead after that as Lamar Veale anchored home the win in a time of 1:29.46. The champion mystique and respect of \"The Creek\" still lives.
Virginia had a deep group of 4x200 meter relays among the boys with six teams under 1:32 as Potomac Senior (2nd, 1:31.19) and Western Branch (1:31.25) made the total All-American count at three from Virginia in sprint relay.
Sunday\'s finish for Mostrag in the open 800 meter race was much like his distance medley finish as he went after another \"untouchable\" favorite in Karjuan Williams of New Bern, North Carolina. Williams had built a convincing early lead after a hot initial pace, but Mostrag quickly made that gap shrink dramatic with a late kick down the backstretch of the final lap to chase down several runners and only to have made his move probably ten meters too late to catch eventual winner Williams at 1:52.56. Williams broke the old meet record of 1:52.75 set by current University of Tennessee runner Marc Sylvester at 1:52.75 in 2001, while the Fork Union junior Mostrag earned a national runner-up individual honor with a time of 1:53.32 to complement his relay\'s All-American finish from the night before.
The Virginia girls had second place on lockdown in the jumping events as in all three field events, a Virginian earned national runner-up accolades.
Not Centreville sophomore Brittni Finch\'s best jumping day as her 19\'10\" performance at the state meet last weekend at George Mason would have easily won her the national title by over a foot as DeAna Carson won at only a top mark of 18\'9\", but Finch cannot complain with being called a national runner-up merely as a sophomore and with two more years of opportunities to go as her best jump on Sunday was at 18\'7.25\".
Deep Creek junior Ashley Gatling was performing at her top level this season on Sunday as a clearance of 5\'8.75\" was not far off her state meet record clearance of 5\'9\" last weekend, but the Nike Indoors high jump was competitive and deep for Gatling to take a win with that clearance. North Carolina\'s Patience Coleman was the winner at 5\'10\" and Pennsylvania\'s Erin Hannon at 5\'8.75\" as well with Gatling to share national runner-up honors with the Virginia state champion.
Nicole Blood, formerly of Saratoga Springs, New York, came in as the favorite and probably did herself a disservice in setting too hard of an early pace (5:07 first mile) as she was overtaken by other runners in the fast section of the two mile run, but Virginia\'s Catherine White certainly benefited from being forced into running a quick race from the start (5:10 first mile) as she motored her way into a huge personal best time of 10:32.27 for a full two miles (converts to a 3200 meter time of 10:28.87). Her time placed the Northside junior second overall as the national runner-up behind fellow 2005 Foot Locker South finalist Nichole Jones of Texas who doubled back from an All-American performance out of a 800 meter slow heat in the morning on Sunday. White\'s time definitely ranks as one of the fastest times ever run by a Virginian indoors or even outdoors.
There was no happier person at the meet after the final heat of the girls\' 4x400 meter relay than Coach Mike Feldman. Sure, Eleanor Roosevelt of Maryland won the race in a strong time of 3:54.31, but Osbourn Park head coach\'s 4x400 meter relay girls had just pulled off a performance against the odds in taking national runner-up honors in a time of 3:56.78 to lead Coach Feldman to run across the infield and track in his cowboy boots to celebrate with his team and a monsoon of Virginia teams among the top six All-American positions. If Bethel did not scratch, five Virginia teams could have made up of the six spots as Osbourn Park and Eastern Region squads Kecoughtan (3rd, 3:57.06), Menchville (T-4th, 3:58.49), and Salem (T-4th, 3:59.49) all went under four minutes.
Kecoughtan also had a national runner-up performance in the sprint medley relay on Saturday night with a time of 4:09.27. The Potomac school with Michaeline Nelson on anchor finished third overall in sprint medley winning section four of six in a time of 4:09.30.
The Midlothian girls had one of the best meets out of the distance relay teams in the state as they earned All-American honors in the two relays they competed in on Saturday. While the Saratoga girls of New York what has become a tradition of winning the NIN 4 x mile every year as they lapped the field in a time of 20:40.85, the Midlothian girls team of Christine Selander (5:27), Erin Stehle (5:36) Sammy Dow (5:22), and M.C. Miller (5:13) took national runner-up behind in the event that has a tradition of success for Coach Stan Morgan as his boys won back-to-back national titles in the event in 2003 and 2004. The Blacksburg girls also had a very strong showing in the event as Virginia took two of the top three with the Lady Bruins in third with a time of 21:51.09.
AAA state champion thrower Kathy Howard was disappointed with her performance at the NSIC shot put competition in New York on Saturday, so decided to try her luck in the event on Sunday at Nike and attempt a two meet double weekend. The Lee-Davis senior did not have her best day, but was still the state\'s top thower at a mark of 40\'4.25\".
Another state champion from Group AAA, hurdler Kali Watkins of Menchville posted times of 8.85 and 8.73 in the two preliminary rounds to qualify for Sunday\'s finals of the 60 meter hurdles. In the finals, Watkins took fifth with her best time of the three races at a 8.70 clocking to earn All-American honors as a junior.
Salem senior Shamika Kentish just missed the cut on a virtually automatic All-American individual medal in the 60 meter dash as times were taken to the thousandth to decide the final qualifier of six between Tierra Flowers and Kentish as both athletes posted 6.67 clockings.
Huguenot also scored another All-American finish in Sunday\'s final event with the 4x400 meter relay as their time of 3:23.15 and being pushed by Eleanor Roosevelt (2nd, 3:22.35) helped them finish third overall out of a slower heat to give the senior heavy team two All-American honors to celebrate.
Recent AAA state champion in the shot put, E.C. Glass senior Mike Zajac showed where he will be better suited in at college as he earned All-American honors in an event not even consted in Virginia high schools with a fifth place finish in the weight throw at a toss of 69\'6.75\".
In Saturday\'s boy shot put, Zajac was not the top Virginia thrower on the day as Woodside senior Ryan Gordon threw a personal best mark of 59\'9.25\" to finish just off an All-American performance in seventh place in the event.Three was the magic number for Virginia in both the boys long jump and triple as each event brought out three state athletes as All-American finishers.
In Saturday\'s triple jump, Manchester sophomore Antonio Miller was the only athlete not a senior among the top 12 finishers as his best mark of 47\'0.25\" placed him fourth in the event. Miller was followed in order by two fellow Virginians in Huguenot senior Matu Bundy (5th, 46\'11.50\") and Fork Union senior Brandon Caleb (6th, 46\'10.00\").
Meanwhile in the long jump, an exlusive trio of Eastern Region seniors made their way into All-American honors in the event with high jump national champ Marlon Woods of Booker T. Washington (4th, 23\'2\"), 60 meter dash All-American Toriano Moody of Indian River (5th, 23\'1.75\"), and Corey Vinston of Phoebus (6th, 22\'5\").
Alex Bowman of Hermitage edged out Brad Siragusa of Chantilly for the state title last week and this Siragusa edged out Bowman for All-American honors. Coming out of the slow heat, Siragusa won his race in a personal best time of 4:17.06 (converts to 4:15.46 1600m) as he put on a furious kick to take the lead from 30 meters left into the finish. His time placed him fourth overall to earn All-American. The quick slow heat knocked Bowman out of the top six, despite a strong personal best time of 4:18.26 (4:16.66c 1600) in the fast heat.
Another AAA state champion in the 1600 meter run took a frustrating seventh place in the mile run as Kristy Tobin of Great Bridge did nearly all she could coming out of the slow heat as she set a hard pace for herself and then fought off a challenge from Jackie Drouin of Collins Hill on the last lap to win in a personal best time of 5:00.49. Her time converts to her first sub five clocking at 1600 meters in 4:58.89. She was only a few tenths of a second off sixth place with Saratoga Sprrng\'s Lindsey Ferguson just at 4:59.72 for the final spot.
With all the attention focused on McCorory in the 400 meter dash finals, it would be easy to forget that McCorory was one of four Peninsula District athletes to qualify for the finals as two of them earned All-American status with McCorory in Woodside sophomore Dominique Jordan at 55.96 and Kecoughtan senior Tiara Swindell at 57.20. Menchville junior Nicole Saunders was eighth in 58.07. Quite an impressive feat for one district to pull off at a national level meet such as Nike Indoor Nationals.
And McCorory\'s national record and depth of the Peninsula District in the 400 meter dash finals sums up a meet of track and field action for the state of Virginia at Nike Indoor Nationals in which the state\'s incredible talent and depth was both displayed at the same time.