Field events played a vital role in the Virginia AAA indoor track and field state titles won by Gar-Field's girls and Potomac's boys in the winter. Today, they provided the expected and unexpected for those teams during the first day of the Virginia AAA outdoor state track and field championships at Norfolk State University.
The Gar-Field girls took a much-anticipated step toward winning their second outdoor state title in three years, jumping into the lead in the team standings by scoring 17 points in the field events. Richmond area school Atlee is in second place with 11 points.
But the Potomac boys struggled, particularly eight-time All-Met Michael Newell. The senior, who has finished second in the long jump the past two years but has been hampered by a hip injury this season, failed to make the finals in the event. The Panthers finished the day in seventh place with just 6.5 points.
"It's hard to go to the state level and be hurt and expect to get what you would when you are healthy," Potomac Coach Bill Stearns said.
The Gar-Field girls got a big boost from junior Kira Sims and senior Jomaine Blount, who each broke personal records to place second and fifth, respectively, in the pole vault. Sims, who also was state runner-up during the indoor season, cleared 10 feet, and Blount got over at 9 feet 6 inches.
Sheena Johnson, the All-Met girls performer of the year, placed fifth in the long jump (18-1). The junior also coasted to victories in her qualifying heats of the 100 hurdles (14.75) and 300 hurdles (44.57). She also qualified for Saturday's final in the 200 meters.
Gar-Field junior Takeitha Jordan added an eighth-place finish in the high jump (5-4) for the Indians.
"We are a field events team," said Gar-Field Coach Jeff Custer. "We were hoping to get 22 [points] and we got 17, so we are a little behind. But we got the people we needed to into finals [in running events], so we are in the driver's seat."
Stearns also was expecting big things in the field events, but the Panthers came up with much less than the 16 to 20 points he had hoped they would earn today.
Newell, who fouled twice before leaping just 20-11 on his third attempt in the long jump, qualified for today's final in the 100 meters with the fifth-fastest qualifying time (11.09 seconds). Potomac junior Rico Lloyd led the Panthers with a fourth-place finish in the long jump (22-8).
Hylton's boys, with six points, are right on Potomac's heels thanks to senior Boyd Ouden, who finished seventh in the long jump (22-6 1/2) and qualified for Saturday's finals in both hurdles events. He finished with the second-fastest time in the 110 hurdles (14.37) and the third-fastest time in the 300 hurdles (38.91).
Hylton junior Yohance Boulden placed fifth in the high jump (6-4), and senior Tim Ramsey will be the third seed in Saturday's 400-meter final after winning his trial heat in a time of 49.17 seconds.
Stonewall Jackson junior Frank Tolen placed sixth in the long jump (22-7 1/4), the highest finish at states in his high school career. He also had the fastest qualifying time in the 200 (21.77).
"I just knew I would qualify in everything I did," said Tolen, who qualified for the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles as well.
Stafford senior All-Met Samantha Hall placed second in the girls discus with a throw of 123-3. Brooke Point senior Philip Agee tied for second in the boys pole vault, clearing 13-6.