Top caliber boys and girls' teams from across the Mid-Atlantic region converged in Lynchburg this weekend to compete in the Liberty Flames Invitational. Highlights include top US times in multiple events and nearly 100 individuals or relays achieving a National Elite Standard ranking.
Marcellus Fletcher, senior of William Byrd, earned Male Athlete of the Meet for Field Events. He captured first in the Triple Jump in 49'03.75" and Long Jump in 21'06.25". He also stepped on the track to win the 55 Hurdles. When reflecting on his wins he said, “this meet is a stepping stone toward my post season goals. I want to be National Champ in the Triple Jump. I'm glad my coach challenges me and puts me in the events that will help me get better."
All Photos by: Arnel Gonce
Senior Lozie Goolsby from West Potomac has been “trying for a 6'10" mark in the High Jump. I've been doing my workouts and sometimes I'm just competing against myself. On my second attempt I got the winning height and state qualifying mark." Goolsby also finished a close 2nd in 36.37 in the 300 M and capped off the meet with a 3rd in the 500 M.
Hopeful Liberty University walk on Blake Tolman of Western Albemarle competed with a new pole today and finished in first. “The pole is heavier and longer and I have to adjust and get used to it. I believe this new pole will get me a PR. I would have liked a better outcome today, I was 6" off my best, and I just vault for the fun of it."
Junior CJ Napper of Christiansburg continued his winning ways capturing the shot put with a SB and 3 A State Qualifying mark of 50' 11".
Isaiah Garland, a junior from Rustburg, won the 55 M with a speedy 6.51. He also finished 11th in the 300 M.
Kobe Smith, a junior from Granby HS, won the 300 M in a SB 35.8. He reflected, “I'm aiming for a 34, I want to hit 34 flat. I'm trying to get stronger with every race. I prayed before the race that it would all work out." Smith doubled finishing 3rd in the 55 M.
When Chantilly sophomore Brandon McGorty crossed the line in the 500 M in 1:05.99 he earned a US # 5 ranking. Earlier in the meet he ran a leg on the 4 x 800 M Relay and finished runner up in the High Jump at 6' 2". Breathing heavily and smiling, he shared, “I felt pretty good since I've been working on more speed. I knew I had to push if I wanted to win. It's great to have my teammate pushing me." McGorty claimed Male Racer of the meet based on this finish plus his legs on the 4 x 400 M and 4 x 800 M Relays. Teammate Titus Jeffries, a junior who doubled in the 300 and 500 M, “used the blocks for the first time in an indoor meet since I knew I wanted to get out fast."
Coach Matt Gilchrist commented on them, “McGorty has great range since he runs cross country and Jeffries prefers shorter events. They don't train together much and it is phenomenally satisfying to see them come together in the 500 M and run so well. Coach Jason Franks and Danielle Hicks, our Mid-Distance and High Jump Coaches, do a wonderful job getting Jeffries ready to go and that gives us a lot of flexibility when we look at 6A States opportunities."
Senior Jacob McCoy of Blacksburg competed in 3 races over the course of the meet. When reflecting on his 1600 M win he said, “I knew there were some studs in the race. I let others take out the pace and I managed to PR so that's great. It's really encouraging since I was sick over winter break. My goal is to go under 4:20 before the season ends so I'll be racing more 1600s." Following Friday's 1600 M, McCoy won the 1000 M in 2:36.75 on Saturday. “I pretty much ran all by myself and it felt hard. It's always a good feeling to win with guys of this caliber in the race." McCoy concluded his triple grabbing 4th in the 500 M.
Gage Kern, and future McCoy teammate at Virginia Tech, captured the 3200 M after finishing 2nd to him in the 1000 M earlier in the afternoon. Kern clocked 9:33.34 just shy of his PR. He shared his strategy saying, “I let everybody do all the work, I just wanted to see what they were going to do. I'm really happy since I haven't started any speed workouts yet. Since I train on my own I stay motivated when I come to meets and see what my future teammates are doing." Junior Sam Teller of Blacksburg finished runner up to McCoy in the 1600 M and Kern in the 3200 M.
Chantilly teammates Evan Compton, Christopher Wigle, and brothers Ryan and Brandon McGorty paced the field in their championship 4 x 800 M Relay. The elder McGorty ran the third leg handing off to his brother. He revealed, “we wanted to do better than 8:20 and get a Region Qualifying time. I was tired from the 1600 M the night before and I just wanted to see what would happen in the relay." The team met their goal finishing in 8:16.77. Wigle, a junior, raced the second leg and revealed, “it felt good to get the qualifying mark and it's one less thing to have to worry about."
Amherst seized the 4 x 200 M Relay gold with a senior and three sophomores on their team. First leg John Collins went into the race “planning to basically get the lead for my teammates." Darrien Bradley followed and wanted “to stretch well and warm up well prerace since there's a short gap between the 55 M finals and the relay. Jordan Short “tried to stay calm and keep his nerves down" before handing off to anchor Tyrus Burford. Senior Buford, who was runner up in the 55 M, confessed the relay team “planned to dominate and get a state qualifying." They finished in 1:32.99.
Chantilly also captured the meet concluding 4 x 400 M Relay in a US #19 where they hoped to grab the school record. B McGorty and Jeffries were paired up with Daniel Mitchell and Michael Scopellite. Jeffries “used the blocks again for a good start. I had to go 120% out of the blocks to get out in the lead at the break. Mitchell, a sophomore, “knew I needed to give it my all to set up Brandon. I prayed and that helped push me through." McGorty said, “Daniel did exactly what he needed to do to put me in a great position. When I got the baton I knew that guy [runner up James Robinson] would be chasing me down. We had teammates all around the oval cheering us on and that really helped.