The "Classic" weathers the storm for best ever night

DINWIDDIE, VA -- Severe thunderstorms rumbled through the Central Virginia area Friday afternoon with extreme weather conditions causing much damage with tornadoes and hail. The county of Dinwiddie was actually placed on a tornado warning at one point of the day. Well the storm roared through and did inflict it's damage, but the Southern Track Classic went on with only a slight delay as the meet officials and athletes competing not only made the best of the situation, but took it a step further by making it quite possibly the best Southern Track Classic ever.

The boys' mile race was billed as the event of the meet coming into the Southern Track Classic and the race lived up to those expectations. Four-time national champion Bobby Curtis of Kentucky led wire to wire as he took the field through at 58-2:02-3:06 then was able to hold off another out-of-stater in New York's Brian Dalpiaz (4:09.34) for a new meet record time of 4:08.34. The win was actually a first for Curtis at a Southern Track Classic event as he was defeated by Bobby Lockhart two years ago in the 3200 meter run and last year, lost to Richard Smith in the 800 meter run. In the final 250 meters of the mile race, Fork Union's Kippy Keino outkicked Thomas Dale's Alex Tatu for state bragging rights in the mile with his third place finishing time of 4:10.81 with Tatu taking fourth at 4:12.01.

While the boys' race had the star power with Curtis, Dalpiaz, Keino, and Tatu, the girls' mile race needed only one star, Fauquier sophomore Sarah Bowman. Bowman's intent to run a fast time was clear from the start as she blazed an early pace that no one else in the field was willing to follow. Bowman's winning time of 4:46.73 was a personal best for her and is also the second fastest mile time in the nation currently.

The two mile run for the boys was thrown two curveballs prior to the start of the race. First, it was learned that the top seed and defending race champion John Crews of Rockbridge was a scratch because the North Carolina State University bound senior has suffered a possibly season ending stress fracture. Secondly, Alex Tatu decided to make himself a last second entry into the race as he was coming off his 4:12 in the mile prior. With the scratch of Crews and the last second entry of Tatu, the race outcome was less predictable than before with now a few runners in the hunt for the win.

The Thomas Jefferson duo of junior Christo Landry and senior Keith Bechtol were determined to better their times from their great performances last year, where Landry posted a 9:12 3200 meter time with Bechtol right behind him at 9:13. In this year's Friday night race, the two were on pace to do just that as they brought the field through at 4:32 at the mile mark. However, the field reeled them in the later stages of the race as Bechtol was caught by the chase pack which included Albemarle junior Hari Mix (4th, 9:16.75) and Green Run junior Steven Walters (3rd, 9:16.39). Bechtol still dipped under the 9:20 barrier with his 9:19.19 to be the fifth runner in the race to do so. Meanwhile, Landry still held strong through the bell lap with a decent lead of ten meters on Potomac Falls senior C.W. Moran. However, the James Madison University bound Moran had more left in the tank at the end than Landry as he sputtered by Landry on the bell lap for a winning time of 9:10.41 with Landry taking a respectable second at 9:13.28.

The girls' two mile run was also equally strong in depth to the boys' race with five runners breaking eleven minutes, the most in Southern Track Classic history. Leading the way for most of the race and then finishing off her challengers at the end was Hidden Valley junior Jennifer Beury with her time of 10:43.11 as she bested her previous personal best by nearly 20 seconds. Making for a 1-2-3 sweep of AA runners with Beury were Warren County junior Emily Harrison (2nd, 10:47.92) and Martinsville freshmen Anna Chase (3rd, 10:48.62) having strong runs. Finishing out a sub eleven minute top five were Eastern Region rivals Jennifer Boyd of Hickory (4th, 10:54.39) and Kelley Taylor of Kellam (5th, 10:55.36). An impressive fact is that excluding Harrison, the other four top finishers were doubling back from the mile earlier with Boyd (2nd, 4:58.08), Taylor (3rd, 4:59.48), Beury (5th, 5:05.49), and Chase (6th, 5:08.16) all having fast mile races earlier as well.

The boys' 800 meter run lacked maybe the clear star front runner, but it did not lack a competitive group of blossoming 800 meter stars. With a field of entries hovering around the 1:55-1:57 range, the race figured to be a cluster of a pack trying to fight it out and a fight it was. The smartest and the fastest 800 meter participant in the race turned out to be Colonial Forge senior Sean Leyh. While the others in the field stacked tightly packed in a three to four lane wide front where the could get boxed in and such, Leyh chose to set his own pace as he went out to the lead from the start. Leyh led the field through 58 seconds then dropped the hammer on the field with a 56 second last lap to win with room to spare at 1:54.89. The difference between second and fifth in the race was only a matter of roughly half a second. Midlothian senior Andrew Baker was able to come ahead of that group for second at 1:56.02 with Hickory senior Daunte Saloy (3rd, 1:56.06), Douglas Freeman senior Duncan Vick (4th, 1:56.52), and West Springfield senior John Cook (5th, 1:56.56) finishing right behind.

The contenders in the girls' 800 meter run came down to three people in James Monroe sophomore Shylan Bumbrey, West Springfield senior Huma Husain, and Western Branch's Leslie Treherne. In last year's race, it was Bumbrey who set the hard early pace through 400 meters only to see Treherne pass her on the last lap for the win. This year's race was nearly identical as Bumbrey along with Husain led through the first lap, but Treherne's superior leg speed as a 1:14 500 meter runner won out as she gapped the two in the final 200 meters for a winning time of 2:11.62. Bumbrey finished second once again with a strong clocking of 2:14.01 with Husain third at 2:14.62. Treherne's time tied the meet record shared now with Nicole Cook, who set it back in 2001 at Petersburg High School. Cook is now running at Tennessee University and is a NCAA All-American at 800 meters. Ironically, Treherne is following right in Cook's footsteps as she is head to Tennessee next fall to join Cook.

With Deep Creek's Derron Flood being out all season due to a hamstring injury suffered at the indoor state meet, Atlee senior Anthony Easter has shined in Flood's absence as the top 400 meter runner in the state. Coming into the 400 meter dash contest with the fastest time in the state, Easter improved upon his best with his winning time of 48.49. Taking runner-up honors to Easter and representing the single A school ranks very well was Sussex senior William Ricks at 49.33.

Someone would think the girls' 400 meter dash at Southern Track Classic was actually a distance race looking at the results when seeing the large margin of victory of race winner Faraign Giles of Tallwood. The Tallwood junior simply dusted the field as she had already left everyone behind by 200 meters and powered her way through the final half of the race to come away with a meet record performance of 54.75. Finishing second to Giles was Prince George senior Shareese Woods, who was over two seconds behind at 57.12.

Bethel freshmen Francena McCrorory had a similar dominating performance in the 100 meter dash with her clocking of 12.16. Later in the night, McCrorory came back in the 200 meter dash to lock up with the 400 meter winner Giles and a battle it was. Into the curve and down the straightaway, the two were neck and neck and the outcome was not decided till the finish line. The tape of the finish gave the answer with McCrorory coming out the winner at 24.64 with Giles a shade behind at 24.68. The freshmen protegy McCrorory has three more years to break the records set by former great Bethel sprinter Ara Townes, who holds the Southern Track Classic meet records in both the 100 (11.96) and 200 (24.61) meter dashes.

The boys' short sprints were dominated by out-of-state individuals with Robert Woodard of The Bullis School winning the 100 meter dash (10.95) and then in the 200 meter dash, Dematha sophomore Anthony Wiseman (21.70) denied Woodard (22.03) another win.

The Maryland school, Dematha, had another individual pick up a win with Dominic Berger (14.14) edging out Petersburg senior Terry Thornton (14.28) for first place in the 110 meter hurdles. Thornton later found redemption in the 300 meter hurdles where he defeated Dematha's Joshua Wilson (38.14) for a meet record setting win of 38.11.

McCrorory was not the only Lady Bruin from Bethel to come away with first place hardware from Dinwiddie. Bethel senior Lavonne Idlette was one step better than the field in the 100 meter hurdles as her clocking of 14.62 put her just ahead of Huguenot senior Tyreshia Gasque at 14.85.

Brentsville's Jacqueline Bailey, who finished third in the 100 meter hurdles at 15.15, came back later in the evening to win the 300 meter hurdles in a impressive manner with her time of 44.56. Gasque finished the night with two runner-up finishes to show for herself, with another second place finish (45.70) in the 300 meter hurdles.

The Kellam girls' 4x800 meter relay team proved five runners make their team, not four or just one runner. Despite not running star runner Kelley Taylor, who opted instead to run the mile and two mile instead at Southern Track, the girls from Virginia Beach posted their best time yet. Jessica Smith, Natalie Sherbak, Tiffany Howell, and Audrey Hand teamed up to break the meet record which they set last year with their winning time of 9:22.34.

The boys' 4x800 meter relay looked more like a Central Region meet instead of a field of teams from all regions of the state with three of the six teams comprising the field from the region. However, all four teams proved their legitimacy with all three dipping under 8:10 with Maggie Walker (1st, 7:57.19), Hermitage (2nd, 8:01.13), and Atlee (4th, 8:07.40). The Maggie Walker team of Rohan Patel, Brandon Herzog, Jonathan Charlesworth, and Daniel Howard became only the fourth team in state thus far this season to dip under eight minutes. Hermitage earned an automatic state qualifier with the help of Cary Chaffee's 1:56 anchor leg split.

Another great relay performance turned out by the crew from Hermitage was by their girls' 4x100 meter relay as they were able to pull out the win over Bethel (48.50) with their time of 48.37.

To add onto what was a very successful meet for the boys' team from Dematha, they also were victorious in the 4x100 meter relay as their time of 41.34 placed them well ahead of second place Highland Springs at 42.88.

Even with a 54 second 400 meter leg in Faraign Giles for Tallwood, Western Branch with 800 meter race champion Leslie Treherne and Marquita Allen had too much firepower for Tallwood in the 4x400 meter relay as Western Branch took the win at 3:52.85 and Tallwood finished second in the contest at 3:53.25 in an exciting finish.

Another exciting finish was witnessed in the boys' 4x400 meter relay as despite Anthony Easter's efforts as the Atlee's anchor leg, it was not enough to catch Westfield who won with a time of 3:20.11 as the Raiders took runner-up honors with their 3:21.34 clocking.

Highlighting the field event performances were the aerial propelling abilities of Lord Botetourt senior Adam Linkenauger and St. Xavier (KY) senior Chip Heuser.

While having gone undefeated all season in the high jump, which included a major win at the Penn Relays two weeks ago, the Clemson University bound Linkenauger had yet to clear the height of seven feet, which he had previously cleared during the indoor season. With his sights on the Southern Track Classic meet record of 6-11.75 held by Keith Moffat (Menchville HS, 2001), Friday night at Dinwiddie was his opportunity to return to that height. After defeating Colonial Forge junior Jason Miller (6-08.00) in a jumpoff, Linkenauger still wanted to go higher and that he did. After a few unsuccessful jumps, Linkenauger finally cleared the height of seven feet to set a new meet record and earn the applause and cheers of the crowd in attendance.

Meanwhile, with the storm pushing back the field events an hour behind, the boys' pole vault which usually is completed by dark, was going off during the dark of the night. The vaulters were given adequate light by the headlights of two cars parked next to the runway and pit, which could have easily deterred many vaulters competing under such conditions, but not Chip Heuser. Heuser, Bobby Curtis' teammate from St. Xavier High School in Kentucky, soared to a meet record height of 17 feet.

Another meet record performance was turned out by Prince George senior Rhian Jenks in the girls' pole vault, who seems to be back to form as the top pole vaulter in the state after a mid-season slump. Jenks cleared a height of 11-06.00, which was good enough to defeat indoor state champion Kathryn Pettine of Westfield.

The girls' high jump was won in an exciting jumpoff as Tallwood freshmen Jasmine Gates was one jump better than Douglas Freeman senior Emily Tretiak at 5-04.00.

Armstrong junior Shoshana Pettes was the top performer in the girls' long jump by nearly half a foot with her winning leap of 18-03.00.

Thomas Dale sophomore Dennis Boone continued what has been a breakthrough year for himself in the long jump as he won the event with a mark of 23-00.25.

Salem senior Amy Seward (38-02.75) won a close contest in the triple jump over Huguenot's Tyreshia Gasque (38-01.25) as the second place finish would be Gasque's first of three on the night to complete an impressive triple.

In the boys' triple jump, national champion Ryan McCoy of William Fleming was unpressed in his victory with his winning jump of 46-08.75.

Fellow William Fleming teammates Tierra Hubbard and India Mierez dominated the girls' shot put with a 1-2 finish in the event with Hubbard winning with a toss of 43-10.00 and Mierez taking runner-up honors at 41-03.25.

Hermitage senior Duane Brown led a group of six throwers who threw for over 50 feet in the boys' shot put with a winning throw of 55-07.00.

In the discus throw, Brooke Point senior Jamie Mushat-Valrie (121-04.50) was the event winner for the girls, while Fauquier senior Doron White (146-01.00) took the win for the boys.