In a meet where more athletes compete then the modern Olympics, Virginia athletes did a fine job of making sure they were noticed. This included three champions, two state records and some very impressive performances.
Virginians At Penn Relays
Highlighting the action at Penn for Virginia were the three champions at this prestigious meet, The West Springfield Girls DMR, Andrew Hunter (Loudoun Valley) in the 3000, and Matthew Zajac (E.C. Glass) in the discus. Not only were these performance very impressive but they were all very exciting as well.
The first of these to take place was the Girls Championship of America Distance Medley Relay on Thursday won by West Springfield in US #1 11:53.07. Despite it being windy and cool, the sun was shining bright and the girls were ready to run. Katie Kennedy led the team off opening in 3:44.13 for 1200, she then handed off to Michelle Lipka (a new addition to this quartet) who split a 61.62 for the quarter. Reagan Bustamante was next and split a 2:20.86 for the 800. Anchoring this team was Millrose Mile champion, All-American and multiple time state champion, Caroline Alcorta. Alcorta spent no time playing around once she had the baton and quickly caught the entire field and never looked back. Alcorta split the fastest split of the day running 4:46.46 to lead her team to the Wagon Wheel Trophy. This marks the third major DMR these girls have won in a row (the 400 leg has been different each time) starting with last year's outdoor nationals and conitnuing at this year's indoor nationals and now the Penn Relays.
The next winner for Virginia was Matthew Zajac in the discus. Zajac, arguably the best thrower our state has seen since Isaiah Simmons, has continualy found new ways to impress us. Zajac went into the meet as the top seed, bib 1. Though he was the top seed he did not throw that way per se in the preliminary rounds where he could only get it out to 181 feet which was good enough for second seed. He fouled his first throw of the finals and then right before his final throw he got pushed back by another competitor improving. When it mattered most he stepped up in a very big way throwing 200-9 which was not only good enough for the win but also the best the state has ever seen. It will be very entertaining to see how far he can launch that disc in the coming championship season with quite a few chances to post some impressive marks.
The next and unfortunately last champion was also on Friday like Zajac and happened in the 3000. In this field there were a total five Virginia athletes competing and the one that won was the youngest of the bunch. This winner (8:16.31) and now state record holder and sophomore class national record holder is Andrew Hunter. Hunter's time was the second fastest all-time at Penn and earned him the individual athlete of the meet honor. Hunter's actual race was nearly flawless. He stayed in the pack about seven or eight back for the first 4.5 laps not allowing himself to be boxed or have to do the heavy lifting out front. With about three laps to go he started to make his move meticulously and smoothly picking runners off. With about 500 meters to go he finally made a break for it and made a brave and decisive move to the front. He seemed to be fully kicking it with 250 meters to go and held off his nearest competitor on the home stretch. He is quickly becoming one of the best runners in the state and is only a sophomore. If he keeps posting impressive times like this then more people will try and not have an indoor season like Hunter whose county does not have one.
Aside from these event winners were some very very impressive performances in the relays by a couple teams. The first of these were the Bruins of Western Branch. These girls not only qualified but competed very well in Friday's Championship of America 4x800 final. They were the early leaders through the first exchange and in the lead pack the entire race until about 200 meters to go when a break in the pack made a sprint to the tape. Western Branch finished in 9:03.76 to finish fourth with a US #2 time. Faith Ross Split a 2:13.65, Amanda Thomas split 2:14.09, Ebony White went 2:09.52 and Nina Massie went 2:26.50 (in order that they ran).
On the boys side it was equally impressive with Blacksburg winning the small title and finishing in fourth as well. Blacksburg ran 7:42.83. Flip Bishop opened up the team running 1:59.22, Jacob McCoy ran next at 1:53.95, Michael Carter ran 1:57.95, and then Kenneth Hagen split a very impressive 1:51.72 to help his Bruin teammates finish 4th and second amongst American teams.
The other impressive performance was actually four performances if you include qualifying and finals for the T.C. Williams Titans. They qualified via time into the Boys Championship of America 4x100 and 4x400. It is very impressive alone to qualify for this event as it takes a stellar time just to make it in but their times were also very impressive. Though the times were 3:15.47 (4x4) and 42.07 the splits by their anchor were the really impressive thing. Noah Lyles, also only a sophomore, ran the anchor leg on both relays so that means he ran three races on Saturday. In his first race he got the baton in a distant third and finished with the lead and fastest time of the day (3:15.47) and split a 47.47. He then came back to anchor both teams in the COA final to finish first amongst American teams and win the prestigious gold watches. His split in the 4x400 COA was a blistering 46.34! This team was comprised of Josephus Lyles, Phil Tyler, Malique Booth, and the aforementioned Noah Lyles.
Below are other Virginia teams who competed and the splits they ran:
Girls 4x800 Qualifiers:
Blacksburg 9:14.03: Bonnie Angermeier (2:18.9), Kendell Wiles (2:18.1), Claire Ewing-Nelson (2:20.1), Jennifer Fleming (2:16.9)
Lake Braddock 9:16.54: Emma Ager (2:23.5), Hannah Christen (2:16.9), Kaite Roche (2:15), Maddie Tippett (2:21.1)
Western Branch 9:19.93 :Faith Ross (2:17.3), Ebony White (2:13.9), Amanda Thomas (2:16.9), Jade Kemp (2:31.8)
Girls 4x800 COA:
Blacksburg 9:05.25, 7th Place, US #5
Kendell Wiles (2:18.24), Bonnie Angermeier (2:15.71), Clair Ewing Nelson (2:18.29), Jennifer Fleming (2:13.02)
Lake Braddock 9:21.66, 12th Place
Emma Ager (2:23.23), Hannah Christen (2:17.11), Katie Roche (2:16.83), Madison Tippett (2:24.50)
Girls 4x100 Qualifers:
Western Branch 48.12 Large Schools
Osbourn Park 48.30 Large Schools
Woodbridge 48.39 Large Schools
Phoebus 48.76 Small Schools
Nansemond River 48.93 Small Schools
Girls 4x100 Championships
Western Branch 47.21 (VA #1, 2nd Place LS) Irielle Little, Milan Parks, Funlayo Oluwole, Jewel Smith
Osbourn Park 47.64 (5th Place LS) Jordan Banks, Gabi Hayes, Natalie Dent, Kiana Hairston
Nansemond River 47.49 (VA #1 for 5 minutes, now VA #2, 2nd Place SS) Zakiya Rassid, Kara Lyles, Mia McClain, Brandee' Johnson
Phoebus (48.42) Katia Piece, Amira Aduma, Twanike Washington, Carolyn Brown
Girls 4x400 Qualifying
Woodbridge 3:49.79 Jewel Christian (57.47), Tori Lewis (60.81), Kady Badham (56.63), Farrah Suber (54.89)
Girls 4x400 COA
Woodbridge 3:49.75: Kady Badham (58.0), Victor Lewis (59.8), Jewel Christian (55.85), Farrah Suber (56.11)
Boys 4x800 Qualifying (teams that did not make COA final)
7:57.04 Osbourn Park Jacob Black (1:58.23), Nick Causey (1:54.54), Nick Galeta (2:03.58), Matt Luiggi (2:00.71)
7:58.34 Western Branch Tyson Robinson, Eric Ellis, Brandon Boyd, Tyeauis Stallins
7:58.78 Landstown Devrick Johnson, Sean Snyder, Matt McNabb, Klye Sabourin
7:59.82 West Springfield Nahom Teshome (1:59.07), Owen Buck (1:54.11), Tim Ward (2:01.92), Chaunce Bustamante (2:04.74)
8:02.76 Oakton Isaac Mills (1:59.91), Tom Burns (2:00.90), Isaac Hrinko (2:01.06), Matt Livingston (2:00.91)
8:06.06 Lafayette Derek Holdsworth (1:56.94), Andrew Loper (1:59.56), Cade Moreno (2:05.63), Konrad Steck (2:03.94)
8:11.36 Lake Braddock Ben Fogg, Bryan Bergan, Tommy McArdle, Alex Corbett
8:23.79 Robinson Tom Selvaggi, Dan Lynch, Matt Morano, Joey Ludwig
8:25.85 Paul VI Andrew Stepka (2:04.77), Jack Danisewicz (2:07.79), Nick Koritko (2:05.18), Matt Kocis (2:08.12)
Boys 4x100 Qualifying
Western Branch 42.78
Boys 4x100 Championships
Phoebus (42.69 SS) Jomari Becnel, Darius Jones, Charles Graham, Dartrez Thompson
Western Branch (43.29 LS) Davion Taylor, Terrence Ricks, Joeell Blackley, Gregory Chiles
Boys 4x400 Qualifying
Western Branch 3:22.66 (VA #5)
Nansemond River 3:23.69 (VA#7)
Individual Running Performances:
Hannah Christen 9:37.57 3000m Run
Lake Braddock, Finished in second
Hannah not only ran one of the fastest 3000m runs in the entire nation but she did this all after she ran a 2:16 second 800 leg for her 4x800 earlier this morning. It only took her a couple hours to recover pretty well and come within three seconds of winning the 3000m Championship race.
High School Boys Mile Championship:
4:17.16 Mile by Matthew Novak Deep Run, 3rd place
4:19.34 Mile by John Stoney Oakton, 9th place
High School Boys 3000m Championship
Andrew Hunter (Loudoun Valley) 1st Place 8:16.31
Louis Colson (Thomas Edison) 5th Place 8:22.91
MacKenzie Haight (George C. Marshall) 8:30.64
Jason Menzies (Lafayette) 8:33.39
Andrew Goldman (Herndon) 8:35.50
Individual Field Performanaces
Milan Parks 19-4.25 Long Jump VA #1
Western Branch, Finished in third
In her first real competition of the year Parks showed she is very ready to continue her winning ways without much practice or competition. Parks has high aspirations this season and next and even without the best training facilities is putting in great work in what little time she has to jump outside of the hurdlers, sprints, and relays. Check out the Western Branch Practice video above to see her interview and how she trains.
Jewel Smith 18-6 Long Jump VA #3
Zakiya Rashid 145-7 Discus VA #1
Nansemond River, Finished in fourth
Zakiya finally found her complete form this season and tossed a monster 145-7 throw to now lead the state over Denise O'Rourke of J.R. Tucker (who threw less then her season best at Penn) by over ten and a half feet. Zakiya is the 4A state favorite in this event and favored very highly in the shot put as well. Herself and teammate Brandee' Johnson are having quite the competition to see who can lead the state in the most events.
Funlayo Oluwole 39-7.75 Triple Jump VA #1
Western Branch, Finished in third
Oluwole, a member of multiple relays at Western Branch, showed she is not only a great runner and hurdler but still a great jumper. Oluwole was the co-state indoor leader alongside Roe.
LaChyna Roe 38-8.75 Triple Jump VA #2
Henrico, Finished in fifth
Though LaChyna Roe, the co-indoor state leader alongside Oluwole did not perform up to her indoor best, she does have another meet this weekend to improve and come out of the weekend with the state leading mark... yes that is right she is also competing at The MileStat.com Elite Track Classic this weekend!
Garrett Weatherbee (Robinson) 47-0.75 Shot Put
Darius Banks (Denbigh) jumps 23-5.25 to finish in 4th in Long Jump, 1 inch short of winning!
Isaac Agyemang (Woodbridge) goes 22-1 in Long Jump
John Seals of West Springfield (Pictured) finishes 8th with his 6-5 clearance in the boys High Jump
Will Kendall of Midlothian finished in 12th at 6-3.5 in the High Jump
More Penn Relays Coverage: