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Park View Discus Thrower Wins Again

Park View's Natalie Baird throws during last year's Penn Relays.
Park View's Natalie Baird throws during last year's Penn Relays. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)
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By Carl Little and Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, April 27, 2008

Natalie Baird took one look at her father's cellphone Friday and exploded with laughter. Just 20 minutes after she'd won the discus competition at the Penn Relays, five people had called, eager to know the outcome. Baird left her own cellphone in the car but guessed that it probably had just as many, if not more, missed calls.

The handful of well-wishers later learned what Baird's competition had found out already. She was the best the Penn Relays had to offer, throwing 154 feet 9.75 inches to claim a record third straight championship.

It wasn't until the Park View senior stood on the winner's podium at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, where she received the champion's gold watch, that she learned from the public address announcer that her mark was the third best in the history of the meet.

Still, Baird, who will attend William & Mary in the fall, seemed more taken with the number of family members and school friends who called to show support than anything else.

"I feel loved," Baird said, laughing. "I just think they care."

Her father, Brian Baird, who is an assistant on the Park View boys' team, was less understated about what she had just accomplished.

"It's really special," he said. "She'll remember this for the rest of her life."

Aslynn Halvorson of Butler High School in Matthews, N.C., finished second with a throw of 149 feet.

Wake Forest Signs Tackle

Stone Bridge junior defensive tackle Zach Thompson became the fourth Stone Bridge player headed to an ACC school when he gave his oral commitment to Wake Forest on Wednesday.

Thompson, a 6-foot 5-inch defensive tackle who was a vital member of the Bulldogs' dominant defense, was one of the most sought-after recruits in Virginia and is listed in the ESPN 150 recruit watch list -- a ranking of the top prospects in the nation.

"I'm real excited," Thompson said. "I'm focused right now on this next season, but I also want to get prepared for college, too. [Committing is] definitely motivation for lifting and speed training and stuff like that."

Thompson received offers from seven schools -- West Virginia, Virginia, N.C. State, Maryland, Syracuse, Boston College and Wake Forest -- but chose the Demon Deacons after his second visit to the school's campus this month.

Thompson said the prospect of joining teammate Mike Olson, who committed to Wake Forest on April 9, and former Stone Bridge star Devon Brown, who will be a redshirt freshman next season, helped his decision.

"[When] Olson committed, he is one of my really good friends, and that was already one of my leading schools, so it was definitely a big factor," Thompson said. "I called Devon Brown on Tuesday night before I committed on Wednesday and asked him a couple questions, and he really helped me out."

Thompson and Olson join two other Stone Bridge juniors in committing to play at ACC schools in 2009: Offensive lineman David Wang will play for Virginia Tech, and defensive end Brian Slay is headed to N.C. State.

Zach's twin brother, quarterback Patrick Thompson, received an offer from William & Mary. His father, Mickey Thompson, said Patrick will attend camps this summer and has generated interest from Richmond, James Madison, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Junior running back Daniel Allen is another Bulldogs junior expected to sign with a Division I program.


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