Track & Field - Pioneer Boys, Colonels Girls Capture Titles

Posted: May 20, 2016
By ROB NIEDZWIECKI
The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The performances of the James Wood girls and Millbrook boys over the last five weeks suggested they just might be the teams to beat heading into the Conference 21 West track and field meet, and the talent and mettle of both teams was on full display on Thursday at the Handley Bowl.

The Colonel girls won their second straight conference championship with a dominant effort, scoring 154 points to runner-up Woodgrove’s 93. Led by triple-winner Davina Lane, Sherando took third with 92 points.

The Millbrook boys’ win wasn’t nearly as decisive, but the Pioneers’ hurdle dominance and strong runs from their distance stars gave them 143 points, 18.67 more than runner-up Sherando, which was led by triple-winner Jacquari Hayes.

James Wood and Millbrook have definitely been on fire of late.

On April 23, both won the 20-team Apple Blossom Invitational. Last Friday, both teams won the 16-team J.J. Updike Last Chance Invitational at Conference 21 West foe Harrisonburg. And going back to April 15 at Woodgrove’s 22-team invitational, both teams had the highest finishes of the five conference schools competing.

James Wood coach Matt Stegmaier said he reminded his team that it couldn’t get caught up in its success.

“Last year, Loudoun County on paper was supposed to win it [in Conference 21], but we won,” Stegmaier said. “I told the girls that paper doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to show up, and they did. They scored more points than we thought we were going to get.”

James Wood’s top performers came up big once again on Saturday, with sophomore Rene Rosso and senior Grace Greene winning two events each. Rosso took the triple jump with a mark of 36 feet, 4.25 inches and the long jump with a mark of 16-11.5. Greene won the discus (120-6) and the shot put (35-7).

In addition to her two wins, Rosso added runner-up finishes in the 100 hurdles (15.56) and 300 hurdles (47.56), and she took third in the high jump (5-0).

Rosso entered Thursday’s meet on the heels of a record-setting performance at the Updike meet, where she broke school records in the 100 hurdles (15.36) and the triple jump (37-0.5).

“This morning, and this whole week, my shin hurt so bad,” Rosso said. “But we still made it through, and that’s all that matters.

“The [Updike meet] gave me a lot of confidence. I had been having a lot of trouble with the triple jump, so to get that 37 was big for me. I think that’s probably my best event right now.”

James Wood also was led by Hannah Cavanagh (second in the shot put, 34-3, third in the discus, 105-0), Emma Hammond (second in the triple jump, 35-9.25), Becca Ferrulli (third in the long jump, 16-4.75, and triple jump, 34-7.25), Sophia Addison (second in the 100, 13.14, third in the 200, 27.16), Princess Sales (third in the 100, 13.15), the 4x100 team (second in 51.56) and Dy’Avean Sloane (second in the 400, 1:03.79).

Millbrook was fourth in the girls’ meet (84 points), Handley was fifth (56) and Harrisonburg was sixth (38).

Stegmaier also had a lot to be pleased about on the boys’ side. Winning performances came from Chris Vitagliano in the long jump (21-10.75); Emmett Smith, who was in third place in the discus before unleashing a 133-8 on his last throw to win it; and the 4x800 team of Max Lindquist, Jace Chipman, Tyler Ostinato and Jacksen Costa. After being passed by Sherando’s Thomas Powers with 500 meters to go, Costa recovered to pass Powers with 200 to go.

Led by Cameron Faint, the Millbrook boys’ hurdling crew put up another dominant performance. Faint (15.17) led a 1-2-3 finish in the 110 hurdles (Austin Devart was second in 15.66 and Andrew Smith was third in 16.70) and a 1-2-4 finish in the 300 hurdles. Faint (41.07) was followed by Smith (41.49) and Devart (42.57).

Millbrook coach Kevin Shirk said the Pioneers had a great all-around effort though.

“We had at least one or two solid performances in just about every event area,” Shirk said. “One of the things that makes this team a little bit special this year is that it’s not dominated by a single event. We had people score in the top two in just about every aspect of the meet.”

On the distance side, senior Tyler Cox-Philyaw — the Group 4A state champion in the 1,600 in 2014 — made his season debut in that event after being unable to run at the Southern Track Classic last week in Richmond because of an Achilles’ injury.

Cox-Philyaw surged past Sherando’s Trevor Whiteside with 700 meters to go. He had a five-meter lead after three laps, then expanded it from there. Cox-Philyaw looked back with 80 meters to go to find Whiteside still on the curve, and he finished the rest of the race with a big smile on his face.

Cox-Philyaw finished in 4:18.84, while Whiteside took second in 4:24.37. Cox-Philyaw’s best time is a 4:12, but he wasn’t expecting to run as fast as he did.

“I shut it down with 120 to go, because I saw how much [of a lead] I had, and so I figured there was no point in wasting energy that I could use for the 800,” said Cox-Philyaw, who made his decision to move based on the way Whiteside was breathing with about 700 meters left.

Alec Schrank also starred, placing first in the 3,200 (9:50.62) and third in the 1,600 (4:24.51).

Shirk was also pleased with Antwon Rodgers for improving by almost two feet in the triple jump (he took second with a 41-10) and by almost a foot in the long jump (he took third with a 21-7.5). Also, Tyler Russell took second in the shot put (43-2) and Josh Davis took second in the 200 (23.27), third in the 100 (11.57) and third in the 400 (52.17).

Woodgrove was third in the boys’ meet (100 points), and it was followed by James Wood (75.67), Handley (55) and Harrisonburg (22).

Millbrook had a dominant distance day on the girls’ side, capturing the 800 (Mellany Groll, 2:26.53), 1,600 (Kaycee Cox-Philyaw, 5:28.41) and 3,200 (Nadia Dahimene, 11:59.66). Dahimene (5:29.03) and Hannah Croyle (5:32.08) took second and third, respectively, in the 1,600. The Pioneers also received a winning effort from Ali Devart (5-2) in the high jump.

Though Whiteside lost the lead against Cox-Philyaw in the 1,600, his impressive speed helped him avenge that loss in the 800. Cox-Philyaw surged past the Sherando senior just before the end of the first lap, but Whiteside passed him on the backstretch with 250 meters to go and finished in an impressive 1:55.57 to Cox-Philyaw’s 1:56.78.

“I knew this was my last chance for a conference title,” Whiteside said. “Going in, I knew he was going to try and do what he did in the 1,600 [letting Whiteside set the pace, then passing him]. I had to get him on the backstretch. I heard all my teammates cheering for me and pulling for me. I just knew I had to put my head down and grind the last 200, and not let anybody touch me.”

Sherando’s other male individual winners were freshman Isaiah Allen (shot put, 51-1.5) and Hayes, who took the 100 (11.48), 200 (23.20) and triple jump (43-11.5). Hayes also took second in the long jump (21-10).

Hayes was an all-state performer in the triple jump last year as a sophomore, but Thursday was the latest example of his growth into an all-around performer.

“I’ve listened a lot more to my coaches, and I’ve really worked in practice a lot more than I did in my freshman and sophomore years,” said Hayes in explaining his success.

Fellow Sherando junior Lane also won three events, taking the 100 hurdles (14.92), the 300 hurdles (46.42) and the 200 (25.45). Lane wasn’t happy with her 300 hurdles time, but she was on fire in the 200 — her 25.45 won by 1.68 seconds and broke the school record set by Latasha Watson in 2008 (25.47).

Lane said assistant coach Jamie McCarty wanted her to break the 200 record to make up for the 300 hurdles.

“I gave it everything I have left,” said Lane while breathing heavily before she found out she broke the record. “It feels like [I broke the record]. My body’s kind of dead. I’m kind of hoping.”

It was the third remarkable performance from Lane in two weeks, as she broke her own school records in the two hurdles events last week at the Southern Track Classic (14.75 in 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles in 43.91).

“That was my first time at that meet, and I didn’t want to go unnoticed,” Lane said. “When you go up against fast people, they’re going to make you run fast.”

Sherando also was led by 100-meter winner Ania Summers (12.95).

Handley’s teams had one individual win (Kristin Blake in the pole vault, 6-6) and two relay wins. Both the boys’ 4x100 team (Tyler Mudd, Arthur Ashe, David Bui, Micah Strother) and the girls’ 4x400 team (Olivia Dickens-Bowman, Casey Nelson, Cierra Corbin, Mya Mintschenko) set personal-bests.

“The boys kept the baton moving, and with the girls, that was just a gutsy performance by the team and a great anchor leg by Mya (61.8 seconds). That was her best split of the year,” said assistant coach Derek Dowrey (head coach Mike McKiernan is ill and was not at the meet).

The top six individuals and two two relays automatically qualified for Wednesday’s 4A West Region Meet at Freedom High School in South Riding.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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