Track & Field Notebook

WARRENTON — Sherando junior Ella Carlson did not get off to the best start in the discus at Wednesday’s Region 4C track & field meet at Fauquier High School, scratching on each of her first two throws to leave her with just one more opportunity to make the event finals.

Carlson wasn’t concerned. After all, she wouldn’t have been the state runner-up in Class 4 as a freshman if she didn’t have the ability to deliver when it counts most.

Carlson took the lead for good with a toss of 128 feet on her third attempt to advance to the three-throw finals. On her last throw of the competition, Carlson blew past her personal record of 136-4 with a mark of 138-5. Carlson won Wednesday’s competition by almost 16 feet over Loudoun Valley’s Kayla Bolen.

Carlson also scratched on her first two attempts in last week’s Class 4 Northwestern District meet, when everyone in the field had four attempts for the entire competition.

“I was much more calm this week than I was last week about scratching,” Carlson said. “I tend to be better when I’m relaxed, so I just told myself to calm down.”

Sherando throws coach Jake Smith told Carlson after the district meet that her struggles that day would be a good learning experience for her.

“Whenever you’re put into a pressure situation, you’re forced to perform,” Smith said. “She got a little bit of experience with that last week. Starting off this week, same kind of trouble, but she was much more relaxed and way calmer.”

By setting a PR by more than two feet Wednesday, Carlson showed she’s certainly capable of throwing more than 140 feet, which is what it might take to win the Class 4 state title on June 19 at Liberty University. Carlson’s father Cory said Salem’s Kalei Memmer has thrown 140 feet and is the only other girl in Class 4 who has surpassed 130 feet.

“I love competition,” Carlson said. “It makes me throw better.”

Carlson also fared well in the shot put, taking second with a mark of 37-7, four inches behind Kettle Run’s Nia Rogers (37-11). The top four in each regional event qualify for state competition.

Senior William Fletcher is the only other person from Sherando’s track & field program headed to the state meet. Fletcher — who placed 10th at the 2020 Class 4 indoor state track meet in the shot put — placed fourth in the shot put on Wednesday with a mark of 45-5.

Fletcher was seeded fourth, just four inches ahead of the No. 5 seed and 19 inches ahead of the No. 8 seed, and wasn’t sure if he’d qualify for the state meet.

“I’m very excited to move on,” said Fletcher, who threw almost three feet farther than he did at the district meet. “I came out there and threw pretty good today. I performed way better than I did last week.”

Smith liked what he saw from Fletcher.

“He’s a tremendous competitor,” he said. “He lives for the tense moments in the bigger meets, and he usually performs pretty well. Hopefully, we can continue to ride on his success and continue to improve for the state meet.”

Posadas finishes meet strong

On Wednesday, Handley coach Mike McKiernan said one of the people that impressed him the most was senior Sofia Posadas.

After the top-seeded 100-meter runner placed fifth in that event to miss out on the state meet, her strong second leg in the 4x100 team vaulted the relay from out of the top five to first. Handley went on to win the 4x100 with a time of 49.94 to shatter the group’s previous best of 50.71.

Later, Posadas would grab the fourth and final state-qualifying spot in the 200 with a time of 26.78.

“[Getting under 50 seconds] was really a goal of ours this year,” said Posadas, who was joined by Tierney Finley, Brittnay Turner and Liz Imoh on the relay. “We kind of went in knowing this was regionals and it was our last shot [at the state meet], so we just have to give everything we have and at least get a 50. We got under, so that’s pretty rewarding.”

Posadas said she was disappointed with what happened in the 100, but she used that as fuel.

“I think it pushed me to do better in the next two races,” Posadas said.

Stickley continues to show off speed

When it comes to most cross country runners, they might run the 400 meters during track season, but it’s usually only as a leg on the 4x400 team.

Rarely do cross country runners see the open 400 become their best event. In the case of Handley junior Ryan Stickley, it’s not only his best event, but he has an excellent chance at coming home with an All-State medal in the 400, which he just happened to try out for fun this season.

Stickley — who won the Class 4 Northwestern District title by more than an second in 52.18 last week — was rapidly gaining on Dominion’s Demetrius Summers when he hit the finish line in the 400 on Wednesday. Summers placed first in 51.55 and Stickley was second in a PR of 51.61.

Stickley said going into the season, he thought his main event would be the 800. But Stickley ran the 400 in 52.8 seconds in a tri with Kettle Run and Fauquier at Handley on May 12, and he was hooked.

“I just find it to be the most enjoyable event,” said Stickley, who added that he usually has a fast kick at the end of cross country races.

Stickley also had the area’s third-fastest 200 time (23.87) coming into Wednesday, which shows he can also pick up the pace when he needs to.

Link shining in debut season

Only one Winchester-Frederick County boy will compete in two individual events on the track at the Class 4 meet — James Wood sophomore Andrew Link, who placed second in the 300 hurdles (41.00) and fourth in the 110 hurdles (15.84). Link improved by 0.5 in the 300 hurdles and 0.36 in the 110s.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Link of his season. “I like the hurdles, and the competition that’s at stake.”

James Wood coach Caroline Sandy has been impressed.

“He is great at being coachable, and picking up on the things he needs to improve on,” Sandy said. “He has basically PR’d every single time he’s run, and I see that continuing because he wants it and listens really well.”

James Wood distance crew leaves its mark

With no state-qualifying times allowed this year due to COVID-19 changes implemented by the Virginia High School League, every distance runner who toed the line on Wednesday faced the unenviable task of trying to place in the top four against the elite stable of runners at Loudoun Valley.

The Vikings boys and girls combined to grab 13 of the 24 state-qualifying spots in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, and two of the other 11 spots were picked up by James Wood juniors Lauren Beatty in the girls’ 1,600 (third in 5:18.87, an improvement of almost seven seconds) and Nathaniel Woshner in the boys’ 3,200 (second in 9:49.27, an improvement of five seconds).

Beatty — who missed almost five months of competitive running due to a fractured femur before compering in the district cross country meet — voluntarily decided not to run at the Region 4C cross country meet so that she could continue her rehab for track season.

It paid off Wednesday. Beatty beat two of the state’s elite distance runners in the 1,600, pulling away from Millbrook’s Madison Murphy at the start of the last lap and passing Loudoun Valley’s Ricky Fetterolf during it. Murphy and Fetterolf each qualified for states in the 3,200 earlier on Wednesday.

“What she’s done is pretty spectacular,” Lofton said. “It says a lot about her talent and hard work.”

Lofton also praised Woshner for what he did individually in the 3,200, then bouncing back to help the 4x800 team. Woshner, senior Chris White, senior Jimmy Burdock and junior Liam McDonald placed fourth in 8:11.10, an improvement of almost nine seconds, to qualify for the state meet.

The Colonels came in as the fifth seed, four seconds behind Liberty and 13 seconds or more behind the three Dulles District teams. James Wood finished 15 seconds ahead of Dulles school Dominion.

“After looking at what the [Dulles] did last week, we knew qualifying [for states] was going to be a lot harder than we thought,” Lofton said. “I can’t be more excited for them.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at
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