Boys' track & field outlook: Distance runners look to sustain success

Winchester/Frederick County boys’ distance runners will be looking to put a bow on what’s been a pretty spectacular year for them in the outdoor track & field season.

In the fall, four local runners earned Class 4 All-State honors in cross country. In the winter, Winchester/Frederick County athletes combined for four All-State medals in the individual distance events, with Millbrook senior Nick Hayden capturing the 1,000 meters and Handley junior Will Pardue taking the 3,200.

Hayden — an All-State cross country runner who will run for NCAA Division I Columbia University next year — has already won an outdoor state championship. Hayden captured the Class 4 800 last year in 1 minute, 53.79 seconds after winning both the district and Region 4C titles in the 800. Hayden posted the area’s fastest time in the 1,600 (4:18.60) and won the district title.

Pardue did not have one of the area’s three best times in the 3,200 last year, but he earned All-State honors by placing seventh in 9:27.47. Pardue won the indoor 3,200 in 9:17.55, with junior teammate Garrett Stickley taking second in 9:22.27. Both were All-State cross country runners. James Wood junior Ethan Pratt-Perez placed fourth in the indoor 3,200 in 9:24.83 to round out the local All-State indoor performers.

Pardue and Stickley are part of a Handley team that it looking to continue its dynasty in the Class 4 Northwestern District, having won four straight outdoor titles. The Judges lost four All-State athletes in sprinter/thrower Stephen Daley (100 and shot put), Ryan Stickley (400), Nico Schianchi (3,200) and Will McKay (2021 outdoor pole vault state champ), but Handley still won the indoor district title this year.

The Judges will also be led by sophomore Hassan Akanbi, who tied for the area’s best mark last year in the high jump (6-0) and and had the No. 1 long jump (21-4). Akanbi was the district champion in the high jump. Junior Christian Metzger ranked second in the area in the long jump (21-2) and qualified for the state meet.

The Judges also will benefit from the return of the speedy Aaron Lee. The senior missed most of last season with an injury but had the area’s No. 2 time in the 200 (23.00), and during indoor this year he earned All-State honors by placing eighth in the 300.

James Wood took second in the district last year but is now without two All-State distance runners in Craig Woshner (3,200, now at Duquesne) and Liam McDonald (800, now at Radford) as well as one of the area’s top all-around athletes in hurdler Brendan Cassidy.

In addition to Pratt-Perez and sophomore Eli Clark (All-State cross country and indoor state qualifier in the 3,200), James Wood features senior Andrew Link, the district champion in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles last year. Link was the area’s fastest in the 300 hurdles (39.84) and placed fifth in Class 4 in that event, and he had the No. 2 area time in the 110 hurdles (15.58).

Hayden will be looking for individual success for Millbrook (fifth in the district last year), and he’s also part of a highly successful 4x400 team. The Pioneers placed eighth at the Class 4 outdoor meet last year, and the team of senior Landon Baker, junior Elijah McGee and senior Scott Montgomery took second at the Class 4 indoor meet this year in 3:26.74. Baker posted the area’s No. 1 mark in the 200 (22.79) and No. 3 mark in the 400 (51.84) last year. Baker qualified for the state meet in the 200.

Sherando (fourth in the district) lost an All-State discus thrower in Avery Dodson, but sophomore Micah Carlson is back after also earning All-State honors in the discus by taking eighth. Carlson had the area’s No. 3 mark last year (142-2).

The Warriors will also feature an All-State indoor track performer this year in Noah Harris, who placed second in the high jump with a mark of 6-2. Harris’ top outdoor jump last year was 5-8.

Sherando made some strong additions in senior football standout AJ Santiago and junior Brady Hamilton. In the Warriors’ first meet, Santiago leapt 21-1.5 in the long jump — which would have ranked third in the area last year — and 39-9 in the triple jump. Also in that meet, Hamilton recorded times of 11.22 in the 100 and 22.90 in the 200 — each of which would have been the area’s second-best times last year.

Clarke County (second in the Bull Run District last year) lost its top scorer in Dain Booker to graduation as well as his junior brother Will, who tied for the area’s best mark in the long jump last year (6-0) but is not competing in track this year.

The Eagles do return their only All-State performer in Spencer Blick. The senior ranked third in the area in the 110 hurdles (17.10) and 300 hurdles (42.74) last year and placed fifth in Class 2.

The following is a glance at each area team:


Coach: Mike McKiernan, 11th season.

Last year: Class 4 Northwestern District champions; second in Region 4C; 17th in Class 4 state.

Key losses: Stephen Daley, Ryan Stickley, Nico Schianchi, Will McKay, Jacob Duffy, Carson Harris.

Key returnees: Will Pardue, Jr., distance; Garrett Stickley, Jr., distance; Manno Lusca, Jr., hurdles; Christian Metzger, Jr., sprints/jumps; Rodd’ney Davenport, Sr., throws; Hassan Akanbi, So., jumps; Aaron Lee, Sr., sprints.

Key newcomers: William Thomas, Fr., distance; Josiah Johnson, Fr., sprints; Rylan Stribling, Fr., sprints.

McKiernan’s outlook: “We expect to be competitive in the larger meets. We have a number of younger athletes whose growth will help determine the quality of this team. We are excited about the improvement shown by the returning athletes. Aaron Lee has become much faster and Manno Lusca has improved in the hurdles.”

First meet: Wednesday in quad with Clarke County and Central at Sherando

James Wood

Coach: Abeeb Badmus, third season.

Last year: Second in Class 4 Northwestern District; fifth in Region 4C; tied for 20th in Class 4 state.

Key losses: Nathaniel Woshner, Liam McDonald, Brendan Cassidy, Nolan Cornwell, Logan McKay, Karim Cisse.

Key returnees: Ethan Pratt-Perez, Jr., distance; Eli Clark, So., distance; Ryan Babington, Sr., jumps; Chase Lockley So., jumps; Gatlin Lockley, So., jumps; Andrew Link, Sr., hurdles; Casey Floyd, Jr., hurdles; Zach Smith, Jr., throws/sprints; Elijah Richards, Jr., sprints; Chris Morrison, Sr., sprints; Isaiah Ralls, Sr., sprints.

Key newcomers: Dayton Culp, Sr., jumps; Jorel Baltimore, Fr., hurdles; Josiah Jones, Jr., throws/sprints; Jayse Dailey, Fr., sprints.

Badmus’ outlook: “The expectation is to be consistent throughout the season by improving their times and having qualifying times for the postseason. The team is young but we have a few leaders coming back from last season that can help lead the team, like Ethan Pratt-Perez, Eli Clark, Andrew Link, Zachary Smith and Elijah Richards. Elijah Richards has been working extremely hard which showed during the indoor season. Elijah improved his running times at the end of the outdoor season last year. This outdoor season should be great for him with all the dedication and commitment he has shown. I am looking forward to see how we can compete with all the great teams in our district and hopefully we can continue our success that we had from the previous season.”

First meet: Saturday in Ram Country Invitational at Strasburg


Coach: Joe Hall, third season.

Last year: Fifth in Class 4 Northwestern District; eighth in Region 4C; 24th in Class 4 state.

Key losses: Brian Washington, Matthew Topham, Carter Johnson, Kai Johnson, Joseph Young.

Key returnees: Nick Hayden, Sr., distance; Scott Montgomery, Sr., sprints; Landon Baker, Sr., sprints; Tyler Lam, Sr., sprints; Raheem Rowe, Sr., sprints; Tyson Mallory, Jr., sprints/jumps; Kyler Jackson, So., sprints/jumps; Elijah McGee, Jr., sprints; Sawyer Paine, So.; Trevor Lloyd, Sr., distance; Kavon Barr, Sr., jumps; Travis Hambrick, Jr.; Logan Downs, Sr., sprints.

Key newcomers: None mentioned.

Hall’s outlook: “The team brings back a lot of experienced athletes. We should be competitive within our district. Our 4x400 relay team will be looking to build on their success during the indoor season and make a push toward a state title in that event.”

First meet: Saturday in Ram Country Invitational at Strasburg


Coach: Brad Symons, first season.

Last year: Fourth in Class 4 Northwestern District; 11th in Region 4C; tied for 31st in Class 4 state.

Key losses: Justin Dante, Avery Dodson, Fabian Kimbrough, Camden Palmer.

Key returnees: Jed Bell, So., middle distance; Ben Freilich, Sr., middle distance; Noah Harris, So., jumps/sprints; Ryan Maki, So., distance; Dylan McGraw, Jr., distance; JuJu Mendez, Jr., middle distance; Chris Walsh, Sr., middle distance; Jhabari Jackson, Jr., sprints/jumps; Micah Carlson, So., sprints/jumps/throws/hurdles; Jayden Patten, Sr., sprints/jumps; Anthony Binibini, Sr., sprints/jumps/hurdles; Josh Metz, Sr., sprints/jumps; Niko Walker, So., jumps; Toby Fox, So., hurdles; Ethan Gonzalez, Jr., throws.

Key newcomers: Brock Smith, Jr., (transfer from East Rockingham), distance; AJ Santiago, Sr., sprints/jumps; Brady Hamilton, Jr., sprints/hurdles; Carmelo Copeland, Fr., sprints/hurdles; Quinn Christine, Fr., sprints; Donovan Blackwell, Fr., sprints; Renelso Campbell, Fr., jumps; Angel Guzman, Fr., sprints/jumps; Charlie Clawson, Sr., throws.

Symons’ outlook: “Our boys should be very competitive this season. We have good depth at sprints and jumps with some point scorers in throws. Should be a good mix of returning performers and newcomers. Joshua Metz has impressed me with his work ethic and leadership with the team. Dylan McGraw is a very hard worker. AJ Santiago and Brady Hamilton could be significant contributors this season as newcomers. Micah Carlson has impressed me with his versatility and can compete in many events.”

Next meet: Wednesday in home quad with Handley, Clarke County and Central

Clarke County

Coach: Andre Kidrick, 16th season.

Last year: Second in Bull Run District; third in Region 2B; tied for 29th in Class 2.

Key losses: Dain Booker, Will Booker, Gage Shiley.

Key returnees: Spencer Blick, Sr., hurdles/sprints; Seth Brown, So., sprints/jumps; James Dalton, Sr., distance; Jacob Kitner, So., distance; Wyatt Palmer, So., sprints/relays; Matthew Stroot, Jr., distance.

Key newcomers: Josh Crawford, Jr., sprints/jumps; Jackson Ellis, So., distance; Aidan Kreeb, So., distance; Aaron Welsh, Jr., throws.

Kidrick’s outlook: “It will be difficult to replace a multi-event athlete such as Dain Booker. His leadership and work ethic were unmatched. Spencer Blick was our second-highest scorer last year and the only kid that placed at states. Jacob Kitner was fifth on the team in scoring. Seth Brown was a distance runner last year who has switched over to sprints and looks good. Wyatt Palmer, James Dalton and Matthew Stroot return to step up into the leadership roles and will be key to the season. Luke and Logan LaMaster are ready to step up into key roles and gain experience to be ready by the championship season.”

First meet: Wednesday in quad with Handley and Central at Sherando

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