Cristeen Anyanwu said she transferred to Episcopal from Eleanor Roosevelt because she wanted to get “everything out of being a student-athlete.”
Closing out her first year with her third state title and increased aspirations of running at an Ivy League school made it clear the Alexandria private school was the place for her.
Anyanwu set a personal best in the 100 with a 12.58 to capture her first outdoor state championship and helped the Maroon finish fifth overall (37 points) at the drizzly Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association championships in Richmond Saturday.
“It was very exhilarating,” Anyanwu said. “I was nervous before the competition. I think my overall mentality was to do my best in the rain, and the rain kind of helped.”
Anyanwu ran the first legs of Episcopal’s runner-up 4x100 (51.60) and 4x400 (4:06.10) relay teams as well. The Potomac School’s 4x100 relay team (50.90) won the state title which, along with a sixth-place showing by Kelsey Brandon in the 400 (1:01.20), helped the Panthers take ninth in the overall competition.
Anyanwu’s big finish came on the heels of her wins in the 55 (7.37) and 300 (42.35) at the indoor championships in February. Off the track, she also had to make the adjustment of moving from Maryland to attend a boarding school that attracts students from around the country with its serious academics.
Episcopal Coach Damian Walsh said her example got other athletes, especially fellow relay runner Olivia Griswold, to better realize their potential.
“A lot of these kids are looking to go to Ivy League type schools,” Walsh said. “Athletics for some of these girls is not something that was on their path, but Cristeen definitely helped a lot of these kids get faster and think about running in college.”
There is still plenty of time to decide, but like her older sister Doris, an All-American and Big Ten champion sprinter at Penn State, Anyanwu would like to do just that.
“I know I want to stay on the East Coast and I’m looking at Ivy Leagues,” she said.
Liberty Christian (178 points) captured the team state championship, followed by St. Catherine’s (120.5).
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes’ Alison Lindsay took third place in the 800 (2:23.10) and fourth in the 1600 (5:15.83), and the 4x400 squad finished fourth (4:19.70) as the team finished in seventh overall.
John Paul the Great tied for 11th overall with 10 points. Katherine Duquiatan was fourth in the 300 hurdles (49.30), Morgan Maves (5-0) and Leah Joseph (4-10) took fourth and fifth, respectively, in the high jump, and Caroline Collier finished fifth in the discus (91-05).
Flint Hill’s Caira Blackwell’s 50.80 showing in the 300 hurdles was good for fifth.
Over on the boys’ side, Woodberry Forest (136.5 points) won the team title, and Fork Union Military Academy (121) finished runner-up.
The Potomac School boys finished 12th, thanks to strong showings by Hale Ross in the 1600 (4th, 4:34.00) and Cole Bransford in the 400 (6th, 51.80). The Panthers’ 4x800 team also finished third (8:08.04).
Other local highlights included Pope John Paul the Great’s Matthew O’Neill finishing fifth in the 1600 (4:35:00.). The team tied with Flint Hill for 15th.