Boy's AA State Track Meet

Posted: June 9, 2014
The Winchester Star

HARRISONBURG — Millbrook’s Tyler Cox-Philyaw might have had some things to learn about finishing at the top as a freshman, but one last push completed his sophomore surge in style Saturday.

Cox-Philyaw showed his will and body were in optimal shape by breaking away from a late charge from Midlothian’s Collin Hahn to win the boys’ 1,600 meters at the Group 4A state track and field meet at Harrisonburg High School.

Cox-Philyaw recorded a time of 4 minutes, 17.24 seconds to beat Hahn by 0.57 to win the only area state championship for boys and girls, and in the process he became Millbrook’s first boys’ outdoor track state champion since Brenton Parham won the 300 hurdles in 2008.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Cox-Philyaw, who let out a “Yes!” as he pumped his fists and a “Woo!” as he pointed his index fingers upward after walking off the track. “Especially since I have two more years after this. I have big goals for myself. I was extremely happy.”

Later in the day, Cox-Philyaw also placed sixth in the 800 with a time of 1:58.51 to highlight a two-day state meet in which seven area boys earned individual all-state honors by placing in the top eight in their events (Handley junior Dontae Mauck placed in the top six in three events to lead the way) and one relay team earned all-state honors.

Cox-Philyaw’s performance was a far cry from his performance at last year’s Group AA state meet in Harrisonburg, when he ran 13 seconds slower than his seed time in placing 22nd of out of 27 runners in the 1,600 and 11 seconds slower than his seed time in placing 28th out of 30 runners in the 800.

“I thought about [last year] a little bit [coming into Saturday],” Cox-Philyaw said. “I didn’t do what I was supposed to do last year, and I prepared myself a lot better than last year. I definitely got the right amount of rest and knew what to eat.”

Cox-Philyaw’s been taking care of himself to prepare for all his races, and his training regimen has included essentially dropping a product that no real doctor would order a runner to drink.

“Last year he drank like, a gallon of Dr. Pepper or something the night before [running at the state meet],” said Millbrook coach Kevin Shirk, who also coaches distance. “He’s definitely doing the little things better.”

Cox-Philyaw needed every ounce of his strength to take the 1,600.

To start, Cox-Philyaw — the top seed in the 1,600 — went out at his usual blistering pace on the hot and sunny day. He took a five-meter lead after the first 100 and ran a 61-second first lap, and maintained that five-meter lead through the first two laps.

“I knew [No.2 seed] Peter Seufer [of E.C. Glass] had run the 3,200 before [in the morning], and he wasn’t going to be as strong,” Cox-Philyaw said. “All I really had to worry about was Collin Hahn, and I had to break him from the beginning. And that’s what I tried to do.”

By the end of the third lap, Midlothian’s Tommy Mulroy and Hahn were right on Cox-Philyaw’s heels, but Cox-Philyaw picked up the pace once the final lap started.

No one could keep up — except for Hahn. Hahn was still a good five meters behind when he came off the turn for the final straightaway, but at that point Hahn made his charge. With 50 meters to go, he was almost even with Cox-Philyaw.

“I definitely felt he was close,” Cox-Philyaw said. “I turned and it was, ‘Oh, he’s right there.’ So I just surged a little bit.”

Hahn couldn’t find another level, and Cox-Philyaw had his state title.

“The race went how we thought it would play out,” Shirk said. “Last year he was kind of scared [before the state meet], and this year he seemed confident. It seemed like it was his race from the beginning. That’s how he viewed it, and that’s how he ran it.”

Cox-Philyaw will next compete in the New Balance outdoor nationals in North Carolina next weekend, and he will be joined by senior teammate Connor Faint after a memorable day of his own.

Faint did not arrive in Harrisonburg until noon — about two hours before he was scheduled to run in the 300 hurdles — after waking up at 6 a.m. in Winchester so he could attend his graduation ceremony at Millbrook.

Though he had been drinking water all day, Faint said he still felt drained after sitting in the sun at Millbrook prior to arrival. But Faint had a built-in pick-me-up - he was placed in lane 2, which allowed him to see exactly what he was up against as he made his way through the race.

“I was able to chase people down,” Faint said. “That’s what I like to do.”

Faint said he felt like it helped that he never had to switch his lead foot in going over the hurdles (he usually goes over with his right) and that he conserved energy Thursday with a light workout, and the end result was a personal-best time that bested the national-qualifying mark by 0.25, was 0.32 better than his personal-best, and was 1.69 seconds better than the time that placed him seventh in Group AA last year.

“I would have loved to have gotten first,” Faint said. “But I’ve shown a lot of improvement. My freshman year, I was running 50s. My goal today was to get a national time.”

Millbrook also had freshman Alec Schrank take seventh in the 3,200 in 9:49.68.

Handley’s Mauck didn’t hit any of his personal-bests over the weekend, but after placing second in the triple jump Friday (46-0) he went on to place third in the 100 (11.24) and sixth in the long jump (21-3 ½) Saturday, achieving a rare feat of three all-state finishes.

“I didn’t do horrible,” said Mauck, who was .08 away from earning all-state honors in a fourth event after running a 22.35 that was good for 10th in Friday’s 200 preliminaries. “I just didn’t do as well as my standards. I never jump well here, and being out in the sun drains your energy.”

Handley coach Mike McKiernan said Mauck — who has national qualifying performances in the long jump and triple jump — can hold his head high though.

“Considering all he was asked to do, he had a very good weekend,” said McKiernan of the athlete who also ran a leg on Handley’s 4x100 team Saturday. “Three all-state performances, he did very well.”

Given his circumstances, Handley senior Jordan Dowrey did about as well as could be expected.

Dowrey injured his fingers while weightlifting in April, and he reinjured them — causing more damage than he did originally and also straining his forearm — while doing the shot put in Monday’s practice.

Up until Friday, he didn’t even know if he would participate in the shot put. But throwing only with the palm of his right hand, he placed seventh on Friday in that event with a mark of 48-11 ¼ (his personal-best is 52-11). The discus doesn’t put as much pressure on Dowrey’s fingers, but he placed sixth in that event Saturday with a 142-3, 13 feet off his personal-best.

“Throwing out of my palm, I was pretty happy with how I did [in the shot],” Dowrey said. “[Discus] was a little frustrating, because I was at least able to practice the disc Wednesday and Thursday. I threw a lot, felt good and felt like I was going to have a good day, but I came out and it wasn’t one of those days. I just couldn’t find the groove.”

Still, Dowrey — who begins classes today at Marshall University, where he will play football — said it was at least good to see so much improvement when he was healthy. He improved by more than four feet in the shot put, and he bested older brother Derek’s PR in the discus with his top mark of 155-2.

“I didn’t set the school record, but that made me pretty happy,” said Dowrey of topping Derek, a Penn State University offensive lineman.

Junior Jarett Cestaro set a personal-best with a mark of 6-0 to tie for seventh in the high jump.

One day after Sherando junior Justin Hammer said “we stomped it” when asked about the breaking the school record in taking second in the boys’ 4x800 in 8:01.58, Warriors coach Tom Grim said he couldn’t have been prouder of a group that also includes sophomore Trevor Whiteside (eighth in the open 800 in 1:58.56) and seniors Daniel Snapp and Ryan Hindle. They broke a record of 8:07 that had stood for 16 years. All but Hammer was on the team that placed sixth in Group AA last year.

“We’d been wanting that one all year,” said Grim of the foursome, which recorded a time of 8:08.65 at last week’s 4A North Region meet. “Those guys went out there and just pulled their hearts out. They did it for each other, and that was just awesome to watch.

“We’re losing two absolutely awesome seniors in Ryan and Daniel. They’re the heart and soul of this team. They’re what track’s all about right there.”

James Wood was led by senior Owen Bales (12th in the 110 hurdles in 15.27) and senior Logan Shiffler (12th in the discus, 123-10).

E.C. Glass won the team title with 97 points, topping runner-up Midlothian’s 54.7. Handley was eighth with 23.5 points, Millbrook was 10th with 21, Sherando tied for 23rd with 9 and James Wood did not score.

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

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