A frustrating, injury-plagued junior season kept Stone Bridge's Joe Gates from reaching his goals in track and field during 2004. But as this track season begins, Gates has vowed not to dwell on the past and instead focus on being one of the area's best high and long jumpers.
"It was very frustrating last year, but I'm not going to worry about that," Gates said after competing at the Apple Blossom Invitational on April 16. "I'm not going to let that bother me."
At the Apple Blossom meet, Gates was a double winner, capturing the championships in the long jump and high jump despite a slightly strained hip muscle. He long-jumped 20 feet 9 1/2 inches before heading to the high jump, where he reached 6-2 and won a tiebreaker over Handley's Josh Thompson and Colonial Forge's Andrew Bennett.
Gates has high-jumped 6-6 this season, which makes him one of the D.C. area's best this year. He reached 6-4 in 2003, but injuries kept him from getting above 6-2 last year.
"I'm pushing last year aside," Gates said. "In both the high and long, I'm hoping that I can be one of the best at regions and then at states."
Falcons' Edwards Sees Double
Most of the area's schools were at the Apple Blossom, which was held on a cool, sunny day at James Wood High. Along with Gates, Fauquier senior Brandon Edwards was also a double winner, capturing the title in triple jump (43-1 1/2) and 400 meters (49.7 seconds) while also finishing second in the 200 (22.1). Edwards is the main holdover from the Falcons team that won its first state title last spring. Fauquier's 4x100 relay won in 43 seconds, while Loudoun County senior Cam Harris won the 100 in 11 seconds.
On the girls' side, Fauquier senior Sarah Bowman had her second elite performance of the spring, breaking her own record in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4 minutes 48.1 seconds. After adding .24 seconds for the hand-timing, Bowman's time is the third best in the country this spring. On April 9, Bowman ran a time of 2:05.41 in the 800 meters, the nation's best time in that event. The seven-time All-Met will be aiming to repeat as Penn Relays champion in the mile run on Thursday night at the University of Pennsylvania.
Meantime, a new standout emerged in Park View freshman Natalie Baird, who broke a 17-year-old meet record to win the discus with a throw of 138-2. Liberty senior Rachael Clark won the shot put with a throw of 40-10, and Loudoun Valley junior Blair Brown high-jumped 5-2 for the title. Fauquier's 4x100 relay won with a time of 50.3 seconds.