Virginia AAA Track and Field

High Schools: T.C. Williams's Tynita Butts Wins High Jump at Virginia AAA Track and Field Championships

By Carl Little
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, February 28, 2009

HAMPTON, Va., Feb. 27 -- Tynita Butts got her hips clear over the high jump bar Friday at the Virginia AAA track and field championships, then brushed it with a leg on the way down. The fiberglass rod wobbled, then appeared to settle safely into the standards. The T.C. Williams senior celebrated an apparent victory at 5 feet 10 inches, covering her face with her hand.

But four seconds after the bar began to tremble, it tumbled. The same unlikely scenario unfolded on Butts's next attempt. With that, she threw her hands up and groaned in disbelief.

"I don't know what to say to that," said Butts, who still won with a 5-9. "There's little gremlins around here."

The girls from Western Branch took the early lead after the first day of the two-day meet, followed by Deep Run and T.C. Williams.

Western Branch's boys also led early, just ahead of Albermarle and King's Fork.

In the high jump, Butts and Potomac senior Pearl Bickersteth were the top two seeds and, after surviving 34 other participants, captivated the crowd at Boo Williams Sportsplex with a stirring jump-off. When Bickersteth passed at 5-5, so did Butts. After Bickersteth cleared 5-8 despite brushing the bar with her leg, Butts followed in identical fashion. Nearly the entire sportsplex fell silent before each of their attempts and cheered wildly after.

Butts and Bickersteth both missed all three of their attempts at 5-10, but Butts won the championship on misses. She also won her heat in the 55-meter dash and advanced to Saturday's final.

Butts was the only area athlete to be crowned champion on Friday, but others still enjoyed success. Lake Braddock's 4x800 relay team of Kelly Hagan, Casey Lardner, Taylor Moore and Liana Epstein finished second in 9 minutes 21.92 seconds, less than a second behind Ocean Lakes. Annandale senior Emily Koppleman earned bronze in the shot put.

Chantilly senior Wesley Sun took third in the pole vault, while South Lakes senior Vincent Brown looked smooth, advancing to Saturday's finals in the 55 meters and the 55 hurdles.

Damien Thigpen suffered one of the meet's most crushing disappointments. The Stonewall Jackson senior failed to reach Saturday's final in the 55 meters because of a false start in the semifinals. Thigpen was seeded No. 1 with Virginia's fastest time in the event.

Change the Game: Boo Williams, long an icon on the AAU basketball scene, attended the first state track and field championship hosted by the facility that bears his name. Fleet Feet: Albermarle's 4x800 relay team of Mark Baucom, Bradley Garrett, Jacob Sawyer and Zach Vrhovac brought the baton around in 7:44.7, a meet record and the fastest time in the country.

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