Region 4C boys' track: Day 2

WINCHESTER — A year ago, the Handley boys’ track & field team rode a dominant four-win performance by Trey Causey to win the inaugural Region 4C meet by 25 points.

Any team would be hard-pressed to overcome losing someone like Causey, who’s now starring at the University of Virginia. But the loss of Causey isn’t quite as noticeable to opponents when they see so many names affiliated with Handley finishing at the top of so many more events.

The Judges repeated as Region 4C champions on Saturday with an even more dominant performance than last year, scoring 124 points to blow away runner-up Fauquier by 41. Handley scored at least four points in 11 of the 17 events, including a whopping 24 in the pole vault and 22 in the 100.

“This team this year, honestly what’s special about it is how well we work together,” said Handley senior Jack Armel, who placed second in the pole vault (13 feet) on Friday and added an eighth-place finish in the 110 hurdles (16.49) on Saturday. “We’ve had a lot of good moments this year. We’ve all come together as a team. We realized we need to win meets by coming together.”

Prior to winning Saturday, the Judges’ victories this year included the Class 4 Northwestern District championship for the second straight year and the Apple Blossom Invitational. Handley also has runner-up finishes by just one point at the Lake Braddock and Handley Invitationals, the latter of which was won by the Fauquier team that finished a distant second to the Judges on Saturday.

“We felt like we’d have another good team this year, even though we lost Trey,” said Handley coach Mike McKiernan Saturday after he and his team posed for pictures with their trophy at the conclusion of the two-day meet. “We’ve added some young, good talent. Some of our sophomores this year really developed. Adding Malachi [Imoh] helped. We’re blessed with a really strong team, and I thought all the kids performed really well.”

Sherando took third with 80 points in the 14-team meet. James Wood was fourth with 79 and Millbrook placed 11th with 24.

Imoh has been a pretty nice addition for the Judges. On Saturday, the sophomore blazed his way to personal-records to win the 100 in 10.91 seconds (an improvement by 0.1) and the 200 in 21.85 (an improvement by 0.19). Imoh won the 100 by 0.08 over James Wood junior William Crowder (10.99) and took the 200 by 0.48.

Imoh also ran the opening leg on Handley’s victorious 4x100 team that broke a school record from 2000. Imoh, fellow sophomore Jayden Vardaro (fifth in the 100, 11.32), freshman Stephen Daley (seventh in the 100, 11.37) and junior Miles Ashe (third in the 100, 11.13) combined for a time of 42.63, which bested the previous school record of 42.72 and beat the entire field by 0.9.

In the open 100, Imoh said he stumbled a little out of the blocks. Imoh was in the lead halfway through the race though, and he always likes his chances in that situation.

“In practice, we’ve been working on the second half of our races to make sure we finish strong,” said Imoh, who prides himself on the way he finishes races.

Imoh’s ability to finish is why he says the 200 is his favorite race because his start isn’t quite as important in that event.

“I just to maintain just a good pace through the first 50, and the last 150 I just try to run as fast as I can and try to pull away,” Imoh said.

Imoh said he couldn’t have been happier with the 4x100.

“Hopefully we’ll do pretty well at states,” Imoh said.

Imoh and the rest of the 4x100 team will have plenty of teammates with them at the Class 4 state meet, which will take place on Friday and Saturday at Liberty University in Lynchburg. The top four in each event, as well as those who have achieved state-qualifying times and marks, advance to that competition.

Many of Handley’s top performances came during the field events on Friday when the Judges scored 64 of their points (the 4x800 was the only track event on Friday).

Vardaro also stood out in the 300 hurdles on Saturday. Fauquier’s Isaiah Brothers passed Vardaro late in the 300 hurdles, but Vardaro still took second in a personal-record 40.49.

McKiernan said “it broke my heart” when Vardaro’s 300 hurdles performance was brought up. McKiernan wanted that win for him because of everything he went through during a weekend in which he placed in the top five in four events (one on a relay).

“Jayden was having a rough time this weekend. His back’s hurting him,” McKiernan said. “I was so proud of him because he kept fighting. Every event, he was in there digging, giving everything. He did six events over the two days. When you’re back is hurting you and you’re doing six events, it can be easy to kind of back off a little bit, but he didn’t.”

Sherando scored 49 of its points on Friday, but the Warriors still had an exceptional Saturday, with juniors Darius Lane and Eldon Agard shining in the hurdles events. Lane placed third in the 300 hurdles (41.08) and fourth in the 110 hurdles (15.50) and Agard placed third in the 110 hurdles (15.39) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (41.37). Lane and Agard took 1-2 in the triple jump on Friday.

“Those guys are two of our main workhorses,” Sherando coach T.J. Rohrbaugh said. “We ask a lot of them in practice. We’ll put them in everywhere. We’ll put them in on the relays, the hurdles, the jumps.

“Their success is really the result of the work that they’ve been putting in and the consistency. They’ve been showing up and working hard every day. That’s why they’re able to show up here at a meet like this and have success.”

In addition to the aforementioned three events, Lane will also be going to the state meet in the long jump. It will be the first time the younger brother of four-time Winchester Star Track & Field Athlete of the Year Davina Lane will compete in a state meet.

“I’ve definitely gotten a lot stronger than I was last year,” said Lane, whose has improved his triple jump by three feet (top mark of 44-1) from last year and has a top mark of 20-10 in the long jump. “This year’s really been surprising to me, especially for long jump, because I hadn’t done that since freshman year. I was in a slump [in that event] at the beginning of the year, so it’s a great feeling to be able to punch my ticket to states.”

Rohrbaugh also considers Ty Waits to be one of the team’s main workhorses. The junior placed third in the 800 in 1:57.15 one day after he helped the 4x800 team improve its PR by 22 seconds to take second in that particular foursome’s first time running together since March.

Rohrbaugh also had high praise for senior thrower Isaiah Allen one day after the state’s leading shot putter came two inches short of his PR in that event and had four throws better than his PR in taking second in the discus.

“Isaiah has done a phenomenal job this year not just with his preparation, but helping out the other guys on the team,” Rohrbaugh said. “I can’t say enough about him as a person. He’s a great kid. He’s the type of kid that keeps everybody up and makes you laugh.

“And he’s not happy with where he’s at. He goes out and works on the little details every day in practice to try and make yourself better. I think we’re going to see his best throws next week [at the state meet]. I look forward to seeing what he does.”

For James Wood, Crowder also placed fourth in the 200 (22.78) and anchored the 4x100 team of Drake Tews, Lavaughan Freeman, and Jackson Clyburn to third in 43.89. Also on Saturday, the 4x400 team of Clyburn, Logan Owens, Gavin McDonald, and Freeman placed third in 3:31.70, and senior Joshua Arce placed fourth in the 3,200 (10:06.90).

“We’re real pleased,” James Wood head coach Mike Onda said. “We were thinking of taking maybe seven [people between the boys and girls], and I think we’re up to close to 20. Very happy with that.”

Millbrook senior John Pullen took third in the 3,200 in 10:03.81 and qualified for the state meet based on time on Saturday with a 1:59.62 to take sixth in the 800, one day after helping the 4x800 to qualify for the state meet. The day before, fellow senior Jacob Young recorded a state qualifying mark on his first throw of the discus competition and finished with a 144-9 to place fifth.

“I’m really proud of Jacob,” Millbrook coach Kevin Shirk said. “On the day that he needed to do it, he really buckled down and had his best performance.”

— 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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