Group 4A State Track and Field Meet

By ROBERT NIEDZWIECKI | The Winchester Star

HARRISONBURG — Sherando’s Davina Lane didn’t get the chance to run in the 200-meter state finals in 2016, and she was forced to endure two restarts during a 40-minute delay for that event on Saturday at the Group 4A state track and field meet.

But once she finally got the chance to show what she could do at the state level in the 200 meters, she put on a performance that couldn’t have been more fitting for the greatest girls’ track athlete in Sherando’s 24-year history at Harrisonburg High School.

Lane’s head-first lunge at the line delivered her a state championship by two-hundredths of a second over Deep Creek junior Maya Perkins and capped off a sizzling sprint in which she shattered her school record by 0.44. Lane won in 24.89 while Perkins ran a 24.91.

That victory also capped off a spectacular two-year postseason run in which Lane went 17-0 in the 200, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Earlier on Saturday, Lane defended her 100 hurdles state title with a time of 14.45 (0.03 in front of Louisa County’s Taylor Robinson) and defended her 300 hurdles state title in 44.20 (1.94 seconds in front of Woodrow Wilson’s Amari Jackson).

“I wanted the [three state titles],” said Lane while still trying to catch her breath after her record 200 run. “It’s my senior year, I might as well go out with a bang.

“Granted, I didn’t PR this season in my hurdles races, but I still had a great season. I did a lot of things, and I’m really proud of myself.”

Owner of seven school records, Lane scored all 30 of the Warriors’ points on Saturday to lead Sherando to a fifth-place finish as a team. Led by five all-state performances by junior Rene Rosso, James Wood took sixth with 29.5 points. High jump state champion Taylor Beard propelled Handley to 13th (20 points) and Millbrook did not score.

E.C. Glass defended its team title with 71 points, and Deep Creek was second with 49.

“Proud” is just one of the many positive words that Lane could use to describe her 2017 season.

She might have broke her own school records in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles had the elite Southern Track Classic in Richmond not been cancelled because of weather in May. She also might have broken them had she not added the three jumping events to her workload just so she could give the Warriors a chance to win the Conference 21 West meet (the Warriors won by nine points, with Lane scoring 51 out of a possible 60 points across six events).

“At this point, you run out of adjectives and words to describe what she’s meant to the program for these four years, and what she’s meant to me as a coach,” said Sherando coach Jamie McCarty, who wrapped Lane in a hug not long after the 200. “She never ceases to amaze.

“She had to work hard today for two of those titles. The 300s were a pretty easy race for her, but the 200 and 100 hurdles, that just shows you her grit. A 40-minute delay, that just shows you what kind of athlete she is, what kind of focus she has when she’s determined. I think she felt a little slighted with what happened last year, not even getting a shot to run the 200. Coming back this year, she really wanted to take a shot at winning that.”

A year ago, Lane qualified with the fourth best time for the 200-meter finals. A lightning delay that lasted two hours and 30 minutes prompted meet organizers to reschedule the 200 meters and some of the other events for five days later, and Lane was on vacation on the postponement date.

This year, Lane qualified with the third best time for the 200 finals, and once again, she was forced to wait because of a problem with the meet’s timing system.

The race started when it was supposed to, but meet officials blew the race dead, though most of the runners ran about 80 meters before they realized that. After about 10 minutes, they started the race again, but it was blown dead much quicker this time. The second delay turned out to be much longer.

“I was so tired after my [300 hurdles], I wasn’t even ready the first time they fired the [starting] gun,” Lane said. “That was the worst thing ever. I was baking over there. I thought I was going to pass out.”

Instead, she passed the challenge with flying colors.

“Who knows what would have happened last year [in the 200],” Lane said. “[I just thought], I’ve got to make a difference this year.”

That race turned out to be even closer than the 100 hurdles, which Lane was very much in danger of losing until her final lunge at the line to beat Robinson. Robinson was in lane 5, while Lane was in lane 4. Lane didn’t know for sure she had won until the public address announcer said her name last while stating who needed to go the podium to receive medals.

“She’d be in front, then I’d be in front,” Lane said. “We were definitely fighting. It was a really good race. If I would have lost, I couldn’t have been mad. When you have good races like that, those are the ones that you want to race in. For someone to push you that’s right next to you, those are the best races.”

Lane also did well to win the 300 hurdles. Her left leg is her lead leg, but she went over every hurdle but one with her right leg.

The 300 hurdles capped a spectacular state meet for James Wood’s Rosso.

The junior took fifth in 46.75, breaking her own school record. Earlier in the day, Rosso placed fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.30) and tied her personal-best in the long jump to place sixth (17-3.5). On Friday, Rosso broke the school record in the triple jump (37-8) set earlier this season by Emma Hammond (37-4) to place third, and she tied for sixth in the high jump (5-2).

“I think one of the things I’m most proud of [is the 300 hurdles],” said Rosso, moments before she learned that she wound up beating her previous best of 46.92. “I was supposed to get last [in the fast heat] because I was in lane 8, so I was freaking out. But then I actually beat some people, and they were all really fast.”

Rosso’s triple jump was also impressive, because she hadn’t done better than 35-11.5 all year in that event.

“That came out of nowhere, to be honest,” Rosso said. “I wasn’t doing that great [in the prelims]. I didn’t even think I made it to finals. And then I just jumped a really big jump. The people measuring it said that was a really good one. Then when they said what it was, I was like, ‘Finally, something decent this year.’”

Rosso couldn’t have asked for much more from herself at this year’s state meet. After earning all-state honors in one event as a freshman (the triple jump) and two events as a sophomore (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles), she accomplished her goal of making all-state in all five events this year.

James Wood coach Matt Stegmaier said Rosso has actually been dealing with a foot injury, which is why the Colonels didn’t have her do the 4x400 at the 4A West Region meet. But Stegmaier said she didn’t mention it all week, and she finished with a flourish.

“I don’t know if there’s too many girls here that have five events where they’re all-state in all five,” Stegmaier said. “That’s pretty outstanding.”

James Wood senior Hannah Cavanagh was unable to make the finals of the shot put competition on Saturday, but she definitely left her mark on the state meet by taking second in the discus on Friday with a mark of 111-7. Kettle Run junior Sofie Haugsdahl won with a 116-8.

Cavanagh had to work particularly hard to achieve her strong senior season. While on a mission trip in Africa last summer, she fell into a rain ditch and tore her calf muscle and suffered four ankle sprains, nerve damage and a hematoma.

Cavanagh was off crutches by the time school started in August, but she said there’s still parts of her left leg that she can’t feel because of the nerve damage.

“For me, it’s amazing [to take second in the state],” said Cavanagh, whose personal best this year is a 114-2. “After looking back at where I was at the start of this year until now, it’s awesome. I really had to push myself.

“I came out and I competed. Even though it wasn’t my best [throw in the discus], I still put forth my best effort. I’m very excited.”

Cavanagh will compete at George Mason University next year, where she will be a teammate of James Wood graduate and 2016 Group 4A state discus champion Grace Greene.

Stegmaier said he was proud of both Cavanagh and freshman Kenzie Konyar for competing and placing higher than their seeds in earning all-state honors. Cavanagh was tied for the fourth seed in the discus, while Konyar (17th seed) came out of the slow heat to take eighth in the 3,200 in a personal-best 11:29.59.

Handley junior Casey Nelson — the top seed in the shot put — had an excellent performance on Saturday but had to settle for second.

Nelson led the competition after the preliminaries, but she was passed by E.C. Glass junior Taliyah Wade with a 38-10.5 in the finals. The last person to throw, Nelson nearly grabbed the lead back with her best throw of the day on her final throw, but her 38-8 came up just short.

Nelson went from throwing 29-11 in the shot put as a sophomore to a personal-best 39-6.5 this year.

“I gave it my all today,” Nelson said. “I’m going to keep working to get better. I can see myself working a lot harder in the weight room, and working more with my coach this summer. A lot of offseason training will help me a lot. I’m looking forward to next year.”

On Friday, Beard took first in the high jump with a 5-4 and seventh in the triple jump with a personal-best 35-6.5.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1

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