Coach's Corner: Coach Williams (Bethel) Mar 06, 2009

After the Bethel girls won their sixth state indoor championship last weekend at the Boo Williams Sportsplex, coach Eddie Williams has plenty of reasons to be smiling. He has about a dozen or so reasons to be smiling with his deepest team ever and most of them coming back as underclassmen to see if they string together consecutive state titles.'s Brandon Miles interviewed Coach Williams after the state meet.

VHSL Group AAA State Indoor Championships - Boys Meet Summary Mar 04, 2009

It was the first time that the state meet has been held at Boo Williams Sportsplex and several historic performances came out of the boys' events with the Albemarle boys shattering the meet record by four seconds in the 4x800 on Friday in a US #5 all-time performance of 7:44.70, Bobby Peavey breaking Alan Webb's 1600 meter record in a time of 4:09, and James Taylor pulling off the historic quadrouple with a long jump title to complement his sweep of the sprints (55, 300, 500). Taylor had two of the best athletes in Virginia high school history to witness his incredible weekend with Olympic gold medalist Lashawn Merritt, who had pulled off the sprint triple like Taylor in 2004, and Doug Dickinson, who is the most accomplished indoor state champion with 11 state titles to his name and set two national records in state competition. The team battle between Albemarle and Western Branch was close as expected. A fall and DNF by Western Branch's 4x200 meter relay certainly had a huge impact on the final outcome, but points could have came elsewhere as only five points separated the two schools in the team scoring at the end. Albemarle won their first state team championship in over three decades with much of the credit going to Jordan Hill's (pictured right by Ted Plunkett) three runner-up finishes in the jumps and Anthony Kostelac's monster triple in the 4x800, 1600, and 1000.

VHSL Group AAA State Indoor Championships - Girls Meet Summary Mar 04, 2009

Photo by Ted Plunkett The Bethel girls did not need an individual champion or star athlete to carry them to them to their sixth state indoor title. They just needed Maya Moore to get across that finish line. Moore ran anchor leg on Bethel’s top seeded 4x400 meter relay which was firmly in control after their third leg, 500 state runner-up Emmy Fraenk put them well out in the lead.  As Moore approached the finish line to seal the state title for Bethel, her legs gave way and crashed to the track just beyond the finish line. If she did not get across that finish line in time, Bethel was going to lose the state title in a bizarre fashion to defending champions from Landstown. However, she found the strength to get in at least for second place to give Bethel 8 points from the event. The margin of victory in the final team standings ended up being 6 points for Bethel.  It was a thrilling close to a meet filled with amazing performances.

Virginia State Indoor Championships Coverage Mar 02, 2009

James Taylor makes history with 4 state titles Peavey breaks Webb's 1600 meet record in 4:09 Butts ties state record with 5'9" HJ, breaks own LJ record with 20'0.50" mark Albemarle boys run US #5 7:44.70 4x800! All photos by Ted Plunkett   More coverage of Virginia AAA State Indoor Championships at   More Coverage of Virginia AA State Indoor Championships at

VHSL Group AAA State Championships Coverage Feb 28, 2009

2009 VHSL Group AAA State Indoor T&F Boys Team Champions - Albemarle 2009 VHSL Group AAA State Indoor T&F Girls Team Champions - Bethel There is no debate that the Boo Williams Sportsplex is the venue to go for producing state meet record breaking performances as a total of five records were either broken or tied this weekend at the VHSL Group AAA State Championships in Hampton. New State Meet Records: Boys 4x800 - Albemarle 7:44.70 Boys 1600 - Bobby Peavey (Kellam) 4:09.31 Girls Long Jump - Tynita Butts (T.C. Williams) 20'0.50" Girls Pole Vault - Emma Dejarnette (Atlee) 12'0" - Tied Girls High Jump - Tynita Butts (T.C. Williams) & Pearl Bickersteth (Potomac) 5'9" - Tied There were also several US #1 performances produced in the building as well including Albemarle's 4x800, Tynita Butts in the long jump, and David Wilson in the triple jump (50'1"). More to come from the state meet including photos, videos, interviews, and stories.... Complete Results Photo Gallery by Ted Plunkett - 1,151 total photos. Video Interviews - Lashawn Merritt - James Taylor - Anthony Kostelac - David Wilson - Paige Johnston - Keilah Tyson - Isaiah Simmons - Zachary Vrhovac - Natalia Kuhn Race Videos by Andy Paisley (30 total) - 55 Dash Prelims - 55 Dash Finals - 55 Hurdles Prelims - 55 Hurdles Finals - Boys 300 - Girls 300 - Boys 500 - Girls 500 - Boys 1000 Sec 1-2 - Boys 1000 Sec 3 - Girls 1000 Sec 1-2 - Girls 1000 Sec 3 - Boys 1600 Sec 1 - Boys 1600 Sec 2 - Girls 1600 Sec 2 - Girls 3200 Sec 1 - Girls 3200 Sec 2 - Boys 4x200 - Girls 4x200 - Boys 4x400 - Girls 4x400 - Boys 4x800 Sec 1 - Boys 4x800 Sec 2 - Girls 4x800 Sec 1 - Girls 4x800 Sec 2 - Boys Pole Vault - Boys High Jump - Girls High Jump - Girls Long Jump - Girls Shot Put Race Videos by Brandon Miles - Boys 3200 Sec 2 - Girls 3200 Sec 2 - Boys 4x200 Sec 6 - Boys 4x400 Sec 1 - Boys 4x400 Sec 3 - Girls 4x400 Sec 3 - Many more videos to be added...

AAA State Indoor Day 1: Albemarle US #5 all-time 7:44.70 4x800, Wilson US #1 50'1 Feb 27, 2009

There was some uncertainty as to whether or not Albemarle might load up their talented 4x800 meter relay as they might spread their athletes around in various events to put them in better position to go after a team title, but a group like this does not come around often and they decided on making history on Friday night instead with their "A" team. After Garrett Bradley put the Patriots in the lead with a 1:58.4 opener, the Albemarle boys showed no mercy as each successive leg poured it on despite having no teams close with Zachary Vrhovac at 1:54.5, Luke Noble at 1:57.9, and Anthony Kostelac on anchorg at 1:53.6. Their new US #1 time of 7:44.70 not only broke the state meet record of 7:48.63 held by Westfield from 2004, but also set a new state indoor record (regardless if in state meet or not) as the 1998 West Springfield 4x800 previously held that honor at 7:45.78. The Albemarle boys were actually gunning for the indoor national record of 7:42.22 (Syossett NY - 2005). They will get another opportunity at the record with more competition at the indoor nationals in March. US Top 5 All-Time 4 x 800 #1 7:42.22 Syosset, NY 2005 #2 7:42.67 York, Elmhurst, Il 2000 #3 7:42.84 Shaker, Latham, NY 2005 #4 7:44.6+ Catholic, Roselle, NJ 1969 #5 7:44.70 Albemarle VA 2009 Their 4x800 meter relay meet record performance and personal best mark of 48'3.75" from Jordan Hill to take runner-up in the triple jump give Albemarle plenty of momentum heading into Saturday, but Western Branch was right with them on Friday to negate any attempt of separation by the Northwest Region champs.   Western Branch only lost two points to Albemarle in the 4x800 meter relay since their own relay stepped up with a runner-up finish of 8:01.31. Despite Hill's surprising finish ahead of Western Branch's top jumper Jeffrey Artis in the triple jump, Artis was in third (48'0.75") and teammates Marcus Dean (5th, 45'1.50") and Kendrick Smith (6th, 45'0.25") came through to place higher than expected to give Western Branch a total of 13 points in the event compared to Albemarle's 8 from Hill's runner-up mark. Western Branch leads after the first day of events with 21 points and Albemarle is second with 18 points.   Despite the significance of the triple jump in regards to the team standings, the event belonged to George Washington senior David Wilson who finally got the 50 plus footer in the triple jump that he has spent a year reaching for you. The defending AAA state champion extended his US lead in the the triple jump on his first attempt with a mark of 50'1", which ranks him #6 all-time in Virginia high school history. It has been over 20 years since the state of Virginia has seen anyone over 50 feet in the triple jump indoors when current US high school national record holder Keith Holley of Bayside (52'7.75") and Larry Moore of Kempsville both dazzled track fans in the same year in 1988 with several 50 plus performances including a 52'7.50". Wilson kept his legs fresh for other events as he passed on all of his attempts for one in the finals in which he still leaped a great 49'6" mark. Wilson will be headed to Virginia Tech next year to play football, but intends to continue to compete in track at the next level as well.   Other highlights from day one included an outstanding girls' high jump competition with two athletes, Tynita Butts of T.C. Williams and Pearl Bickersteth of Potomac, tying the state meet record with clearances of 5'9". Butts "cleared" 5'10" on two occassions, but the bar fell moments later after each attempt. Both jumpers move themselves to #4 on the Virginia indoor all-time list, but Butts certainly has to be anxious to get another chance at the high jump in the national meet with a 5'9" clearance well over the bar and two heartbreakers at 5'10".   The girls 4x800 meter relay shaped up to be a two way battle between Ocean Lakes and Lake Braddock as expected. After a 2:16 third leg by state cross country champion Stacey Nobles brought them from way behind into first, all anchor leg Natalia Kuhn had to do was hold off Northern Region cross country and track champion Liana Epstein with less than a second advantage. Kuhn was aggressive in the first 400 meters to gap Epstein, but Epstein reeled her in to come up on her with a lap to go. Kuhn responded and found another gear to finish with a 2:14 split as the Ocean Lakes girls became only the second 4x800 indoor state champions from the Eastern Region in a 9:21.00 win with Lake Braddock in a close second at 9:21.92. Both teams ran season best times which rank #6 and #7 in the nation as well as #10 and #11 all-time in Virginia high school indoor history.   Despite being the defending indoor state champion and having jumped well at the Central Region Meet in the Ashe Center, J.R. Tucker senior Jasia Richardson was not considered the favorite in the triple jump. After all, Richardson had never leaped over 40 feet before and the event featured two girls who had done so this season in Grassfield's Karimah Shepherd and Great Bridge's Shakeela Saunders. Shepherd had leaped over 40 feet on several occassions this year at the Boo Williams facility and is the US leader with a season best of 41'2.50". Meanwhile, Saunders won the Eastern Region Championships last week with US freshmen national record leap of 40'2.50". Well Richardson finally joined the 40 foot club on Friday at the state meet and denied both Shepherd and Saunders from joining her club as a state champion once again of 40'2.25". She went over 40 feet twice actually and Shepherd had to settle for state runner-up despite going over 40 feet once again at 40 feet even. 2009 has been a very special year so far for the girls triple jump with three having gone over 40 feet indoors. The only year prior which can boast so many girls jumping this far is in 1998 when three girls from the Northern Region (Yolanda Thompson - West Potomac, Naccole Guinn - Thomas Jefferson, Ayanna Patterson - McLean) and Aprelle Wilson of Salem all went over 40 feet during the course of the indoor season.   Almost none of the top girls in the shot put threw over their season best marks as Latona Jackson of T.C. Willams was the first finisher to exceed her seed mark coming out of the lower flight to place seventh, but the Williams household can boast two All-State throwers with Jaleesa Williams of First Colonial winning her first state title with a mark of 40'6" and sister Jessica Williams of Landstown taking fifth place (37'3").   The girls were rolling in the prelims of the 55 meter dash as Nansemond River's Tanay Chandler caught many by surprise from the first heat with her 7.01 personal best clocking to shave considerable time off her season best of 7.16. Defending 55 state champion Marlena Wesh of Landstown had the second fastest time of the prelims in 7.05, while three others ran times faster than Wesh's 7.11 win in last year's 55 meter dash finals. The boys were not playing around either with a round to go as Nansemond River senior James Taylor (6.33) and Bethel senior Earl House (6.34) both clocked personal best times in winning their heats.   Western Branch's Jeffrey Artis has been the ultimate team player and Mr. Versatile for Western Branch with his ability to handle competing in numerous events and placing high in all, but he may have set himself up to finally enjoy some individual glory for the first time after running a personal best clocking of 7.33 in the prelims of the 55 meter hurdles. It should be a great finals race though between Artis and second fastest qualifier Vincent Brown of South Lakes (7.41) who went 7.30 last weekend in his regional meet. The time posted by Artis in the prelims ranks #12 all-time in state indoor history. The Eastern Region girls showed their dominance in the hurdle races with seven of the top nine qualifiers including the top six overall. Landstown's Taylor Wheaton did not compete in her district or regional meet, but appeared to show no signs of race rust by clocking a personal best time of 8.10, which was significantly faster than her top competition in Chantal Luedeke of Deep Creek (8.23) and Courtni Pannell of Bethel (8.24).   The girls' pole vault was just beginning late as most of the crowd had departed for the night, so these results will come along with Saturday's events. The event started later than expected because the boys were vaulting so well as six went over 14 feet with Allen Kelly of King's Fork adding an indoor title to his outdoor title from last spring with a clearance of 15'3" to withstand a challenge from past outdoor champion Matthew Armentrout of Deep Run (2nd, 15'0").   More to come from day 1 one later including photos, videos, and interviews. VHSL Group AAA State Indoor Championships - Day 1 Results

Editorial: Be Careful What You Wish For... Feb 25, 2009

As the VHSL Group AAA State Indoor Track & Field Championships approach this weekend at the new Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton and the excitement builds for a showcase of the best high school track & field athletes in Virginia, so do the complaints about the logistics and any shortfalls with the new facility which was build with a first priority to basketball. There should be a warning though for those ready to fire away with complaints about this facility, because instead of pushing the VHSL to look at another venue, you might be pushing the state association to instead think about limiting the number of athletes that can qualify for state competition or elimination of the sport altogether. We honestly do not have many great options as far as venues and that is what it comes down. Several of the colleges in our state have nice venues, but their first priorities are not to the high school meets. There might be hope in the new facility being built in Virginia Beach which could produce great performances, hold adequate number of spectators, and be setup well to host track meets, but that facility is yet to be completed. I'm a big proponent of progress and reform in our sport and will usually be the first to be critical of anything in the sport that holds us back from progressing to become a more popular and stronger sport, but this is an issue I'm willing to keep quiet in order for our sport to at least maintain in tough economic times when some school districts are considering cutting the sport altogether. Our championship meets have quite frankly have been held in much worse facilities and conditions. The Eastern Region Championships were held for the longest time outdoors in the freezing cold. The Central Region Championships are still held on a spikeless 145 meter track surface at the Arthur Ashe Center. The Boo Williams facility is a huge improvement for a venue when considering our past in the sport. Would hate to see some of these hard working athletes not have an opportunity to qualify and compete in a state meet next year, because the spectators complained so much that the VHSL decided to make the meet much smaller so they no longer have to deal with the complaints. Yes there are likely going to be some inconveniences this weekend at the meet, but remember that it could get worse. The Tidewater area is fortunate that Boo Williams even considered to put an indoor track in his facility and the number of national caliber performances produced from there this season is enough to show the positive effect this facility has had on the area. I'll make sure to get plenty of video of the events this weekend so any action you miss or couldn't see from a bad angle, it will be replayed on the site. Try to go into this weekend with a positive attitude and willing to work around anything that does not meet your standards. Survive this weekend and then we can look ahead to next year. I'm very fearful that there might be a negative result out of a bunch of angry complaints about the facility this weekend and post-meet. Lets thank the people first that are going to work hard to make this meet happen and then give any constructive criticism in an amiable rather than hostile way. Remember that this event should be for the athletes first and not the spectators and coaches. Be careful what you wish for...

Scoring on Paper: VHSL Group AAA State Indoor Championships Feb 25, 2009

Scoring the upcoming VHSL Group AAA State Indoor Championships based off the performance list. Top 3 schools on paper appear to be Landstown, Bethel, and Grassfield for girls and Western Branch, Albemarle, and Nansemond River for boys.

Group AAA Indoor State Automatic Qualifiers (2/17 Update) Feb 17, 2009

A list of automatic qualifiers so far for the 2009 VHSL Group AAA State Indoor T&F Championships. Individuals can still qualify through a top 6 finish and relays through a top 3 finish at their regional championships or reaching an automatic state qualifier at the regionals.