Track & field notebook: Wood's Woshner earns bronze in 3,200 with record-setting run

LYNCHBURG — Thanks in large part to a sizzling final lap, Nathaniel Woshner made sure James Wood observers didn’t have to wait 44 years for another otherwordly performance in the 3,200-meter run.

Ten days after Woshner broke Jay Kelchner’s school record set in 1978, the Colonels senior improved on his record-setting performance on Saturday at the Virginia High School League’s Class 4 state track & field meet at Liberty University.

Woshner recorded a time of 9 minutes, 17.95 seconds in winning the 3,200 at the Region 4C meet, topping his season PR by almost 25 seconds and breaking Kelchner’s mark of 9:18.6.

Halfway through Saturday’s race, Woshner wasn’t on pace to either break his record (he came through 1,600 in 4:42.8) or earn a medal, as he was in 10th place at that point.

But he clocked 1:02.33 on his final lap to not only break his own record by 3.36 seconds in 9:14.69, but he also improved on last year’s fifth-place finish at the state meet. Woshner picked off four boys in moving up from seventh place at the start of the final 400 meters to third.

Woshner’s last two 3,200 runs for James Wood are something he’ll never forget. Woshner — who will run cross country and track for NCAA Division I Duquesne University next year — had hoped to break the school record in the event at James Wood’s Apple Blossom Invitational. But Woshner’s situation is clearly a better late than never one.

“It took a lot of guts, and a lot of heart,” said Woshner about his Region 4C performance at Lightridge High School in Aldie. “It took some people to push me through that, too. [Loudoun Valley sophomore] Ty Blair was right behind me the entire time, and I couldn’t have done it without him. He’s going to do great things next year. That race my coach told me, ‘Don’t go for the record. Just go for a good time.’”

At the region meet, Woshner said he decided to run a comfortable pace for the first mile, and he came through in about 4:45. He planned on picking up his pace for the second mile, but he didn’t think he’d shave 13 seconds off and break the record.

“I felt great,” Woshner said. “Everybody was happy for me. It was like too much to handle. I PRed, I got the school record and I got the regional record all in one meet. I was just awed by it.”

Woshner used his regional strategy for Saturday’s race, so he didn’t think much about being in 10th halfway through. And when the final lap started, he knew he had plenty of fuel to start attacking the runners in front of him. Woshner moved into third just as he hit the final straightaway and pulled away from two other runners from there. He finished more than a second in front of Atlee’s Travis Albom. Only the top two finishers ran a faster final lap than Woshner.

“I just thought I had nothing left to lose,” Woshner said. “Just pick off everybody one at a time, and it worked.”

Woshner said he used up a lot of energy for the 3,200, so he wasn’t at full strength for the 1,600. Seeded seventh with a time of 4:20.24, Woshner placed 29th in 4:37.26.

Woshner didn’t have the final race he wanted, but he couldn’t ask for much more from his James Wood running career, particularly because of the friendships he made.

“The relationships that I’ve made in running are nothing like what I’ve made in my past,” Woshner said. “These are the best guys loving me. They’re super nice, super funny, and same with the girls. There’s so much diversity when it comes to personality on both teams.

“It’s just a huge bonding experience basically, where you push each other at practice, you encourage each other at meets. I don’t know what I’m going to do without [my James Wood teammates] the next four years.”

Woshner might get to compete against one of his current teammates in the next four years in senior Liam McDonald, a future Radford University runner who also earned All-State honors on Saturday.

While Woshner was expected to get All-State honors in the 3,200 based on being seeded fourth, McDonald was only seeded 18th out of 19 people for the fast heat of the 1,600.

But in looking at those seedings, there was no reason why McDonald couldn’t at least finish in the top eight — his seed time was 4:24.28, and only five runners in the field had cracked 4:20. Competing in his first race of the day, McDonald also knew his legs would be fresher than most of his competitors, since many of them competed in the 3,200 earlier in the day like Woshner.

McDonald was in 11th place after 1,200 meters, but in a tightly packed field he was just 1.2 seconds out of first. He made his last lap count, making his way through the field and finishing in sixth in a PR of 4:22.92, more than a second ahead of the seventh-place finisher. McDonald ran his final 400 in 1:01.93, faster than all but the top five finishers in his heat and nearly two seconds faster than everyone else in his race.

“I just figured if I stick in the middle of the pack and then move my way up, I’d be able to at least secure All-State, and I thankfully did,” McDonald said. “Around the third lap, everyone started picking it up, but I just wanted it so bad. I wanted to stick with that front pack, then squeeze in there and get some points for our team.”

McDonald — who would end his day with a strong performance in the 800, taking 10th with another PR (1:58.36) — spoke while he and Woshner had their arms around each other just after the 1,600.

“I’m thankful to have run with one of my best friends, Nathaniel, and Ethan [Pratt-Perez] too,” said McDonald of the Colonels sophomore who placed 16th in the 3,200 and 19th in the 1,600 on Saturday. “They’ve helped me so much throughout the season.”

Sherando

Not far from where Woshner and McDonald had their arms around each other on Saturday, a similar scene played out hours earlier with some of Sherando’s athletes. The Warriors four state-qualifying throwers posed for photos with their throws coach, Cory Carlson, following a highly successful meet.

That group was headlined by Carlson’s daughter Ella. One day after she defended her state discus title, Ella placed third in the shot put with a mark of 35-7.5.

After placing second in the shot put at last year’s state meet with a top mark of 38-11, Carlson didn’t have the year she wanted while working to improve her technique. Had the NCAA Division I William & Mary-bound Carlson thrown 38 feet on Saturday, she would have won the shot put state title, but she couldn’t top her season-best of 36-7.

“It’s been a very hard year for shot put,” Carlson said. “I’m leaning on my next four years to fix that. I knew deep down I could have done better if I had tweaked a couple of things. It just didn’t get it put together today.”

Carlson said she’s pleased to compete in states at both events.

“I’m proud of myself and everybody else in our district and our region, and everybody who got to be here,” said Carlson, who hugged state champion Rachael Turner of Hanover, who placed fourth last year in the shot put, after the competition. “I’m really proud and happy [for Turner].”

Cory Carlson said Ella has done everything she could to be the best she can be throughout her career.

“For her career, to get second as a freshman [in the discus], she very likely would have won as a sophomore, won as a junior, won as a senior, I’m just immensely proud of her,” Cory said. “It will be a while before another thrower comes through that can do what she’s done.”

Another senior, Avery Dodson, also earned All-State honors in the boys’ discus. Dodson was hoping to improve on his PR of 144-10, but the No. 6 seed took fifth with a 136-10 for his first All-State honor.

“There was really good competition today,” Dodson said. “I really wanted to throw about 150 today, because I had been doing that pretty consistently in practice. But I’m happy with what I did. Highly competitive people always want to be first, but I’ll take fifth at states.”

Carlson liked what he saw this year from Dodson, who didn’t throw as a freshman or sophomore.

“He threw in middle school, but in two years he went to fifth in the state,” Cory Carlson said. “I’m impressed. He did a really nice job and he’s worked really hard for it.”

Though Ella is graduating, it’s pretty clear the Carlson name will remain prominent in Virginia throwing circles for years to come. Freshman Micah Carlson placed eighth to earn All-State honors in the boys’ discus competition with a mark of 132-10.

“They have been competing all year,” Cory said. “As soon as he threw 139 at the Handley meet [better than Ella’s PR at the time], he was like, ‘Ella, I got you. I’m better than you.’ It’s been great. Really fun.”

Overall, Cory Carlson couldn’t be more pleased with a throwing contingent that also includes sophomore Ethan Gonzalez, who placed 16th in the shot put on Friday.

“I’ve got so many really talented kids, and they’re all just great,” Carlson said. “They’re great kids. They’re fun to be around and they’re easy to coach.”

Handley

One of the area’s premier track & field performers throughout the last four years did not have an ideal final day.

Handley senior Stephen Daley captured the sixth outdoors state medal of his career by taking seventh in the 100 meters in a solid 10.97 seconds on Saturday (Daley was also third in the shot put on Friday).

But Daley — who placed fifth in the state in the discus last year and was the No. 3 seed this year — fouled on all three of his throws on Saturday. Daley figured to get the third 4x100 medal of his career, but the sixth-seeded Judges dropped the baton on the first exchange and he didn’t get to run in the event.

In the discus, Daley said he had a difficult time lining up correctly, and he had a hard time staying in the circle. Other area throwers pointed out this weekend it’s difficult to get centered at Liberty, where the discus area is in the corner of the infield and the track is in the thrower’s line of vision. Daley pointed out he figured it out last year, just not on Saturday.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Daley recorded a personal record time of 10.81 seconds in taking third in the 100 at last year’s state meet, but he wasn’t able to surpass that this year. His best performance was a 10.85 at the Class 4 Northwestern District meet. On Saturday, the sixth-seeded Daley thought he got caught up in what his competitors were doing. Salem sophomore Peyton Lewis won by 0.17 in 10.62 seconds.

“I thought I had a great start,” Daley said. “I got to my top-end speed, but then I started trying to do too much instead of running my own race. I started looking at dudes in the corner of my eye. It slowed me down a little bit. I probably still wouldn’t have won, but I would have been at least faster than 10.9.”

Daley would have liked to run the 4x100 one last time, but he’s proud of what the relay did this year.

“If we could have finished, we knew we would have had a pretty decent time,” Daley said.

Daley is heading to NCAA Division I Kent State University to play football, but track has meant a lot to him.

“I’ve enjoyed my four years doing it,” Daley said. “I really want to thank all the coaches who helped me. I’m sad I couldn’t get [a state championship] ring for [Handley head coach] Mr. [Mike] McKiernan. I really wanted to win for him.”

McKiernan said he wished things could have gone better for Daley because of how hard he’s worked throughout his career, but Saturday didn’t take anything away from a special career that featured 100, 4x100, shot put and discus medals.

“He deserved a really good day for the time and effort and things he’s done for the program,” McKiernan said.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at
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