Sunday, February 24, 2013
Blacksburg boys reclaim track and field state banner
The Bruins get some help from Christiansburg in the final event to beat Lafayette by two points overall.
Photos by Mark Taylor | The Roanoke Times
Northside's Tierra Saunder (left) and Annie McGowen (right) hug Bonnie McGowen after the Vikings team won the girls 4x200 relay at the VHSL Group AA indoor track and field championships. The team, which included Aleah Keaton, finished in 1:46.41.
Hidden Valley's Carolyn Bethel (left) won the 1600 and 1000, edging Cave Spring's Katie Fortner (right) in both races.
Christiansburg's Tanner Reed (right) passes the baton to De'Quan Green-Gause, who ran the anchor leg on the Blue Demons' 4x400 relay. Green-Gause held off Lafayette's Derek Holdsworth for a Christiansburg win in 3:28.20. Green-Gause got second in the 500 Saturday, setting a Christiansburg school record in 1:05:53.
Blacksburg's Nick Link (87) and Matthew Borny (80) were second and third, respectively in the 1600 at Liberty University.
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LYNCHBURG - The banner seems a little out of place at Blacksburg High School.
It celebrates a state championship in track and field, which isn't unusual for a school with such a storied track and cross country heritage.
What is unusual is the date: 1972.
It's the last time the Bruins boys won a state team title in indoor track and field.
Blacksburg finally closed the gap.
The Bruins boys won the team title in the VHSL Group AA indoor track and field championships Saturday at the Tolsma indoor track facility at Liberty University.
And they did so in dramatic fashion, not clinching the title until the day's final event, a race in which they needed some help from River Ridge District rival Christiansburg.
Finishing fourth, Blacksburg needed Christiansburg to win to keep valuable points away from Lafayette.
That's exactly what happened.
The Blue Demons won, Lafayette was second, and the two-point differential in that race ended up being the margin between Blacksburg and Lafayette in the team championship.
"It was pretty heart-throbbing," said Blacksburg's ecstatic coach, James DeMarco.
DeMarco was also celebrating a runner-up finish for his girls team, which finished second to Tabb by a margin of 56 to 45.
The Bruins were hampered by the absence of injured distance star Bonnie Angermeier, while ailing sprinter Alyn Carr was relegated to just a single event, the 55, in which she was fourth.
"To be missing your top distance runner and your top sprinter and still get second is pretty remarkable," said DeMarco, whose girls have finished in the top two indoors for eight consecutive years.
Speaking of dominance, Carolyn Bethel of Hidden Valley continued hers, winning both the 1600 and 1000.
The 1600 win was her second in a row, while the 1000 victory was her first state title at the distance.
In both races Bethel stayed on Cave Spring's Katie Fortner's hip until the final lap, then out-sprinted her rival.
Her time in the 1600 was 5:03.27, a little over a second clear of Fortner.
Bethel's 2:53.44 in the 1000 gave her a margin of about a half second.
Bethel also raced in the 500, and crossed the line in second behind Blacksburg's Kendell Wiles, who set a meet record in 1:14.85.
But meet officials disqualified Bethel, saying she bumped into another runner while making a pass on the final lap.
Bethel and her coach, Dan King, disagreed with the ruling.
But Bethel took it as well as she could.
"There's nothing I can do about it," Bethel said. "I'll have to live with it."
The three races fell in consecutive order on the schedule, with the 1600 first, the 500 next and the 1000 wrapping it up.
"Each of the races has been like a warm-up for the next race," said Bethel, who recently signed with Northern Arizona University. "It's physically demanding and mentally demanding.
"I'm glad it's over. I'm going to be sore tomorrow."
Already sore heading into the meet was Pulaski County's Sydney Anderson, who tweaked her hamstring in the 300 at the Region IV championships.
Because of the injury Anderson was scratched from the 300, 500, long jump and triple jump.
She thought she might be able to do OK in the high jump, and she was right.
Anderson cleared 5-4 to win.
"I was kind of upset because I couldn't do any other events," she said. "But at least I won and got my second state title."
Anderson won the high jump outdoors last spring.
Cave Spring's Marta Timmermann was a surprise runner-up in the event.
Timmerman's best jump coming into the meet was 5 feet, but she cleared 5-4, conceding defeat only because Anderson had fewer misses throughout the competition.
Northside got a win from its girls 4x400 relay team of Aleah Keaton, Tierra Saunders and sisters Annie and Bonnie McGowan. Their time was 1:46.41.
"Our technical stuff wasn't that great," Annie McGowan said. "But we raced to win."
Northside was second to Tabb in the 4x400, with Khala Jones joining Saunders and the McGowans to run 4:06.06.
Liberty's Craig Danner won a thrilling 1000, coming from well back on the final lap to finish in 2:34.34.
"I was thinking 'I can get second,'" Danner said of his decision to move past a big pack with 150 meters left.
But then Danner, who also was third in the high jump, saw leader Michael Blair of Brentsville slowing.
"It looked like he was dying," said Danner, a senior running track for only the second season.
Blacksburg sophomore Jacob McCoy also passed Blair, finishing second in 2:35.84.
The Blacksburg team of John Mattingly, Noah Combs, Luke Phillips and Kenneth Hagen won the 4x800 relay, while the Bruins got key points from Nick Link and Matthew Borny in the 1600.
Link was second to Western Albemarle's David Taylor, who also won the 3200, while Borny was third.
The meet's only triple individual event winner was Louisa's Javanique Burruss, who won the 55 hurdles, the long jump and triple jump.
In the 4x400 relay, Christiansburg anchor De'Quan Green-Gause took the baton alongside Lafayette's Derek Holdsworth.
Earlier in the day in the 500, Holdsworth had edged Green-Gause in a meet record 1:05.06, with Green-Gause setting a Christiansburg school record in 1:05:53.
This time Green-Gause got the win, leaning across the line to give the Blue Demons a time of 3:28.20 to Lafayette's 3:28.44.
Among the first to congratulate the Blue Demons team were runners from Blacksburg, who finally get to hang up a more modern championship banner.