Boys': Apple Blossom Invitational

By ROBERT NIEDZWIECKI | The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Moments after it was announced that the Sherando track and field team was up 21 points two-thirds of the way through Saturday’s meet at James Wood’s Kelican Stadium, Warriors senior Jacquari Hayes expressed his admiration for what his team had done coming into the day.

“I’m pleased with how the guys come out and work their butts off,” Hayes said. “Guys come to practice ready to work, and it translates over to meets.”

And on Saturday, it paid off in a landmark win.

Sherando won the H. Brian Landes Apple Blossom Invitational for what is believed to be the first time in the school’s 24-year history. Warriors first-year head coach Jamie McCarty said the only other two head coaches in school history, Bill Stewart and Tom Grim — who were both helping run Saturday’s meet — each told him that they don’t recall having a boys’ team win it while they were in charge.

McCarty said the team’s goal is to always perform its best, but he admitted winning as convincingly as the Warriors did was unexpected.

“I think today we started figuring out where all our pieces are going together,” said McCarty, who added the team‘s young athletes have made the Warriors a lot deeper this year. “Everybody was performing at a really good level. When that happens, we feel like we have the tools to be successful.”

Led by 28 points from Hayes - who won the long jump and the triple jump - Sherando scored 97 points to win by 24 points over second-place Millbrook (73), the defending champions, in the 21-school meet.

Pioneers senior Cameron Faint won his third consecutive meet MVP award at a weekend invitational (the Jim Casey Most Outstanding Performer award Saturday), though this starring performance had a bit of twist to it.

Faint kept up his winning ways in the 110 hurdles (15.35 seconds). But just 10 days after running the 800 for the first time in his career, Faint ran a sizzling 1:57 split to bring the Pioneers from seventh to first on the second leg of the 4x800, an event Millbrook went on to win in a state meet-qualifying time of 8:19.67. Faint then finished his day by running the open 400 for the first time this season and won in a state-qualifying and school-record time of 50.29.

As for the rest of the local schools, 100 champion Tanner Dinkins helped Clarke County to eighth (34 points), 1,600 champion John Delaney helped Handley to 12th (27) and James Wood took 19th with 2.

Sherando’s four event championships were one fewer than the rest of the local schools had combined. In addition to Hayes (44 feet and one-half inch in the triple jump, 21-10.5 in the long jump), sophomore Isaiah Allen improved on his school record to win the shot put (52-8.5) and senior David Restrepo edged out Millbrook’s Andrew Smith by .01 to win the 300 hurdles in 40.62.

McCarty was particularly impressed with the Warriors’ performance in the field.

Allen added a second place in the discus (143-7). Sam Johnson took second in the shot put (47-1.5) and fourth in the discus (135-6). And sophomore T.J. Washington - who plays football with Hayes, Allen and Johnson and is competing in track for the first time - took second in both the long jump (20-5.75) and triple jump (43-3.5) with personal records in both events.

“The field events set the tone and carried us today,” McCarty said.

Hayes feels he’s getting closer to breaking out in the triple jump.

“I scratched on three of my jumps, and I feel like they were all longer,” said Hayes, who took fifth in the state as a sophomore with a 44-10.5. “Each week I’m just fine-tuning, and I feel like I’m getting better.”

Hayes also had a strong day on the track, placing fourth in the 200 (23.17) and sixth in the 100 (11.72).

McCarty was also pleased for Restrepo.

“He just started doing the hurdles last year,” McCarty said. “He’s got some experience now, and he’s obviously improved. That was a great race with Andrew.”

Faint had the first great performance of the day on the track in the boys’ meet.

Though Faint might not run the 4x800 at the state meet - his main focus is the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles - the Pioneers had him do it on Saturday in hopes of qualifying the team for states.

Millbrook put Faint - who recorded a 2:03.93 in the open 800 on April 19 at James Wood for the area’s second best time this season - on the second leg because he enjoys the challenge of running people down, and he did just that to move the Pioneers from seventh to first.

“[Faint agreeing to do the 800] is a good example of how competitive he is,” Millbrook coach Kevin Shirk said. “Anything we ask him do, he’s willing to try it. That’s why he was able to run so well in the 4x8. He had some people to chase. He just wants to beat people, and he passed [everyone].”

Tod Hart, John Pullen and Alec Schrank also ran on Millbrook’s 4x800 relay team.

After winning the 110 hurdles, Faint - who obviously isn’t used to running the 800, much less running a a time that most experienced 800 runners never hit - mentioned to Sherando star Davina Lane that he was tired as he was waiting to run the 400.

Faint figured he would be because of the 800. He elected to run the 400 rather than the 300 hurdles prior to Saturday, because he wouldn’t have to be as precise with his strides.

“Stop complaining,” Lane said good-naturedly. “Run fast.”

Did he ever. With Faint straining heavily to maintain his form in the final 50 meters, Faint’s first open 400 of the season eclipsed Neil Bishop’s school record of 51.04 set in 2009 and topped Loudoun County’s Jack Huddleston by 0.24.

“It was a lot on my legs today,” said Faint, whose fastest 4x400 split is 49.1 this year. “But that’s good for me to be in shape.”

At this point there doesn’t seem to be anything Faint can’t do if he sets his mind to it. Part of the reason why Faint - who will join Lane at George Mason next year and will have a signing ceremony in the coming weeks - shattered his own school record and broke Brenton Parham’s school mark of 39.12 in 2008 at the Woodgrove meet on April 21 was because a weather delay at the meet’s outset made him wonder what the meet records were while he waited. He wound up breaking the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles meet records, and he said his 38.79 in the 300 hurdles has him ranked first in Group 4A and was a New Balance Outdoors national qualifying time.

“I feel strong and fast,” Faint said. “I do a lot at practice. I usually go to the hurdler group one day, the sprint group one day, the distance group one day. I’m just trying to get different varieties of strength, endurance and speed.”

Schrank ran a 2:00 anchor leg, which is nothing unusual for him, though the circumstances were. Schrank didn’t get home until late Friday night after recording an 8:39.32 in the 3,000 meters to take 14th out of 23 people at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. The converted time of 9:17.49 is the second fastest of his career. Schrank went home after the 4x800, which was the plan coming into Saturday.

“I think just the experience is great for any high school kid,” Shirk said. “At least on the East Coast, I don’t think you can experience anything like it. You walk into a huge stadium with thousands of people there, and everyone’s a huge track fan. It’s just a different type of experience. And he ran really well against highly competitive kids.”

In addition to taking second in the 300 hurdles, Millbrook’s Smith took third in the 110 hurdles (15.94), Josh Davis took third in the 200 (23.15) and the 4x400 team of Davis, Daniel Ludwig, Will Martin and Smith took third in 3:34.71.

Clarke County was led by Dinkins’ impressive performance in the 100. Seeded sixth and running in lane 6, the junior opened up a huge lead about 70 meters into the race, then held off a late charge by Loudoun County’s Evan Briscoe to win by .09.

Remarkably, this is Dinkins’ first year running track. He previously played baseball, but he was sick during tryouts last year and didn’t play.

A two-year varsity reserve running back and cornerback on the football team, Dinkins decided to try something new in the spring this year. Saturday was the latest example that his choice was a good one - Dinkins lowered his previous area-leading time of 11.40 to 11.33.

“I always knew I was pretty fast, but I didn’t think I was this fast,” he said. “It’s really surprised me.

“It took me a while to get the starts down. But I have a great coach in [assistant] coach [Seneca] Sowers, and she’s really helped me out a lot with the blocks. It’s definitely a good experience to win this.”

Clarke County was also led by Andy Bonett (third in the long jump, 19-9.25, fifth in the triple jump, 40-10.5) and the 4x800 team of twins Nick Dawson and Zachary Dawson, Kyle Erickson and Chase Ervin, who recorded a school-record time of 8:32.98 to place fifth.

Handley’s Delaney was seeded nearly 11 seconds behind Loudoun Valley’s Peter Morris (4:35.99 to 4:25) ion the 1,.600, but Delaney grabbed the lead with 430 meters to go. He then pushed even harder with 200 meters to go to pull away. Delaney recorded a career-best time of 4:25.89 to win by 1.47 over Morris.

“It was a good race,” said Delaney, whose previous career best was 4:27. “Initially coming in I was hoping to get a 4:22, but my strategy was to stay with [Morris] no matter what pace he was going at, and I made my move with 500 meters to go. It worked out well.”

The Judges were also led by Trey Causey (second in the high jump, 6-4, third in the triple jump, 42-10, seventh in the 100, 11.74).

James Wood was led by Chance Grove (sixth in the discus, 134-1).

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

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