The Deep Run Invitational, formerly known as the Lee-Davis Invitational, will be held for the second year in a row away from its original home at Lee-Davis High School in Mechanicsville at its new home at Deep Run High School in Glen Allen. Co-host schools of the meet feature many of the top athletes in the meet with Briana Hudson, Courtlin LaReau, and Ashley Orr for Deep Run and Rachel Butler for Lee-Davis.
Deep Run’s Joanna Hassell is the top seed in the 100 meter dash with a personal best of 12.65. Hassell ran on the All-American sprint medley relay for Deep Run at Nike Indoor Nationals and qualified for state meet competition in the 100 meter dash last outdoor season. Hassell will be looking to pick up her first invitational victory this season after taking a close second (12.75) to one of Group AA’s best in Dominion’s Jennifer Weatherly (12.74) at the VA Runner Invitational in March.
The 400 meter dash has several contenders in the race capable of breaking under 60 seconds for the win. Hermitage sophomore Empress Harrison might appear to the best bet to take first in the event after closing her indoor season strong with a 1:17.75 performance at the VHSL Group AAA State Meet. Huguenot’s Wanetta Kirby makes very few appearances at 400 meters outdoors as she specializes in the hurdles, but she ran 58 seconds in the open 400 last spring.
Rachel Butler (pictured left by John Herzog) probably never expected to be running personal best 200 meter clockings last weekend and find herself at the back of the field. However, the competition the Nebraska recruit faced last weekend at the Taco Bell Classic in South Carolina was just that fierce. Butler ran a lifetime best of 24.82 in the prelims and found herself with the fifth fastest time going into the finals, which she finished with the same place in the finals, but with a slower time at 25.13.
Butler will get pushed but not pulled along as she did in Taco Bell as Hermitage’s Harrison will be doubling back from the quarter and Ashley Orr of Deep Run and Melanie Wright of Riverbend look to go under 26.
Courtlin LaReau (pictured right by John Herzog) will be the class of the field in the distance races and she will have busy day to prove just that as she is expected to compete in three events with the 4x800 meter relay, 1600 meter run, and 800 meter run. However, three first place finishes is well within reasonable for the UNC recruit as she is the top seed by 14 seconds in the 1600 and five seconds in the 800. LaReau recently clocked a personal best 800 meter time of 2:18 in a quad meet.
Some of the Central Region’s top distance runners from the cross country season who did not wear Midlothian blue and gold will be competing in the 3200 meter run at Deep Run. Hanover freshmen Lauren Hopper and Maggie Walker sophomore Susannah Piersol lead this field. Hopper won the slow heat at the state indoor meet in a personal best time of 11:17 and ended up missing a top 8 all-state finish by only one place. Piersol was right behind her at George Mason University with a personal best run as well at 11:18. Piersol’s teammate Clarissa Schick was the Central Region indoor champ in the event and is entered here as the top seed, but its unlikely she will be competing after suffering an injury several weeks ago.
Both Hopper and Piersol will be doubling back from the 1600 meter run, which seems to have a handful of runners in a race for second behind LaReau. Hopper’s teammate Alicia Grove and another Central Region freshmen in Amanda Lineberry of Lee-Davis all are hovering around 5:20 to make for a quality race.
Familiar rivals in the Central Region will face off in the 100 meter hurdles with Huguenot senior Wanetta Kirby (pictured left by John Herzog) and Lee-Davis senior Rachel Butler. Kirby has had Butler’s number for most of this year, but both are running very strong early this spring with personal best performances already. Kirby clocked a 14.50 in the hurdles at the All-American Track Classic and beat Butler at the Manchester Relays, while Butler posted a time of 14.63 last weekend at Taco Bell to finish third in a hot hurdles race with two under 14 seconds including Hampton’s Tierra Brown.
The 300 meter hurdles should be a bit more wide open without any studs up front. Several entrants are just under 50 seconds with Dinwiddie’s Tiara Gardner as the top seed at 48.89. A talented All-State jumper as a sophomore, J.R. Tucker’s Jasia Richardson has picked up the hurdle event this spring and is improving every week as she went 49.84 in her last performance at Manchester.
Girls Field Events
An off weekend for Rachel Butler in the jumping events, opens the meet up for others to shine and in particular the triple jump as Butler is a two-time state champion in the event.
A Central Region trio of Deep Run junior Ashley Orr (pictured right by John Herzog), Deep Run sophomore Briana Hudson, and J.R. Tucker sophomore Jasia Richardson should make the girls’ jumping events some of the key events to watch this weekend in Glen Allen.
Orr is the top seed in the long jump (19’1) and triple jump (39’9”) and is the elder of the group as a junior and will need to bring her “A” game to withstand the challenge from the sophomores in teammate Hudson and Tucker’s Richardson. Hudson, the defending indoor state champion in the high jump who will be favored heavily with her 5’9” best in the event on Saturday, is also starting to develop in the other jumping events. Hudson improved her best mark in the triple jump by two feet at the indoor state meet with a mark of 38’1” to finish as a surprising All-State fifth place in the event.
Meanwhile, Richardson was eight inches better at George Mason with a all-time best jump of 38’9.75” to finish third at the AAA State Meet. With three jumpers entered over 38 feet, the triple jump at Deep Run should be popping.
The Central Region’s top shot put and discus throwers will both be present this weekend with J.R. Tucker’s K’Lynne Robinson and Patrick Henry’s Christianna Moss. Moss has been throwing consistently over 110 this season and appears to be the early front runner for the Central Region crown in the event, while Robinson has already earned one regional crown in the shot put indoors and has no intentions of stepping down as champion. Robinson will be looking to get back over 40 feet again this season after achieving the mark once during the indoor season.
The pole vault will have All-American Anne Marie Gordon of Mills Godwin and the state’s next best vaulter in Anne Powell of Patrick Henry. Both Gordon and Powell went over the indoor state meet record height this past March. There are a total of five vaulters over 10 feet in the contest.
Strong relays always seem to make strong track teams and the Deep Run girls look to show their strength this weekend on their home track as they are the top seeds in both the 4x800 and 4x100 meter relays, while in contention for the win in the 4x400 meter relay. A sweep of the relays is very possible for the Lady Wildcats.
However, both top hurdlers Rachel Butler of Lee-Davis and Wanetta Kirby of Huguenot could be spoilers as each are very capable of bringing their teams from behind and putting them into the lead. Butler is likely to run on the 4x400 meter relay with the 100 meter hurdles and 200 meter dash behind her, while Kirby could make a showing in either the 4x100 or 4x400 and instantly strengthen her team’s chances at a win.
The 100 meter dash will see a great matchup between defending Group A state champion D.J. Coles (pictured left by David Fleenor) of Goochland and one of the state’s top underclassmen sprinters in sophomore Damien Thigpen of Stonewall Jackson. Coles clocked his personal best of 10.70 in his state championship last June and while Thigpen has yet to break 11 seconds, his focus last spring was primarily on the 200 meter dash as he went 22.18 in the event, which indicates he has a sub 11 clocking in him.
Coles has a great chance to win two on Saturday as the Goochland junior is not the top seed in the 200 meter dash, but he has the fastest all-time best at 22.20 in the event.
Hermitage senior John Vial should be a runaway winner in the 1600 meter run. Vial had a best time of 4:22 this past indoor season and will look to be the second Hermitage runner in a row to win at Deep Run as Alex Bowman set the meet record last year in a 4:18.35 win.
The 800 meter run should be fairly wide open, but top seed Kieran Lee of Hermitage, the Central Region indoor runner-up for 1000 meters, will look to establish himself as a front runner for the outdoor regional title. Lee ran a 1:58.60 800 last spring at the Central Region Meet. Hanover junior Michael Saunders has already dipped under two minutes this season in a quad meet and will be in the mix this weekend with several others.
Atlee sophomore Ben Dejarnette is making a rare appearance at 3200 meters and will be looking to post a solid time at Deep Run. Dejarnette is coming off a personal best run in the 1600 meter at the Gus Lacy Track Classic last Saturday in 4:22.19. The only sub 10 two miler in the field is Nathan Puckett (9:52 3200 PR) as the Hermitage junior took the indoor season off. Dejarnette could be making a solo run under 10 minutes for the first time.
55 meter hurdles state meet qualifier, Michael Quash of Douglas Freeman, is the top seed in the 110 meter hurdles on Saturday as he is the top finisher from indoor state meet in the 55 in the Deep Run field. Patrick Henry sophomore Aaron Harris is coming off a 15.64 F.A.T. clocking this past Wednesday at Mills Godwin and should challenge Quash.
Huguenot’s Robert Evans is the lone returning AAA state meet qualifier in the 300 meter hurdles set to compete in the event at Deep Run and finds himself as the top seed with his 39.74 best.
Boys Field Events
The high jump competition should be a deep event with three entrants with bests over 6’5” in Riverbend’s Jeremy Snyder, Deep Run’s Kirk Fischer, and St. Christopher’s Ben Katz. Snyder is the 2006 Group AA indoor state champion and several weeks ago at the VA Runner Invitational cleared a personal best height of 6’8” to move into a share as the state leader in the high jump. Meanwhile, Fischer was the AAA state runner-up indoors and cleared a 6’6” best at George Mason.
AAA state indoor triple jump champion Marcus Robinson of J.R. Tucker should sweep the horizontal jumps at Deep Run. Robinson is the top seed in both the long jump and triple jump and will look to become only the second jumper this season to break 23 feet in the long jump after Rashaad Cannon of Highland Springs went over 24 feet last weekend. Robinson has a best of 22’10.75”, so 23 feet is well within sight.
The shot put will feature five throwers over 50 feet in what should be a fiercely contested competition. Patrick Henry’s Theo Duncan is the newcomer on the scene among the regular faces after putting up a mark of 54’1.50” earlier this season in a quad meet.
Essex’s Jonathan Lee will look to represent Group A well against the AAA throwers in the discus throw at Deep Run. Lee is seeded second in the event at 142’9” with Cody Mohn of Lee-Davis with the best mark among all entrants at 146’6”. Mohn threw for 145’4” at Manchester Relays three weeks ago.
Deep Run sophomore Matthew Armentrout may have the best shot at winning an individual event in front of the home crowd this weekend for the Deep Run boys as Armentrout is the top seed in the pole vault by a foot at 13’6”.