Just after 7 p.m. Thursday at Stone Bridge, many of the spectators at the Dulles District track and field championships started trickling down from the stands to line the fence at the far end of the football field.
From there they could keep watch on the finish line for the track finals, but it also gave them a perfect view of the boys' high jump pit, where the back-and-forth battle between Potomac Falls senior Daniel Oseth and Park View senior Roscoe Johnson drew cheers or moans after every attempt.
As the bar rose to 6 feet 2 inches, the rest of the area's high jumpers were pushed out of the competition. But Oseth and Johnson kept going, dazzling the crowd with leaps that cleared 6-4 and then 6-6, securing a new district record and two new school records.
Johnson's previous best had been 6-4, and finally he succumbed on three attempts at 6-7. Oseth, unsuccessful on his first two attempts at that height as well, heard the crowd erupt as he sailed up and over on his final jump to secure his third consecutive district high jump title.
"Having this kind of close competition, and with everyone watching, it just gets your adrenaline flowing," said Oseth, who will compete next year for Radford University. "It was the perfect day to jump."
Oseth also won the long jump and placed fifth in the 300-meter hurdles, and he was part of a balanced performance that helped the Panthers collect 96 points and capture their first boys' team title. Loudoun County was second with 85 points, and Park View finished a close third with 84.
"For us it was a total team effort," Coach Brian Blubaugh said. "We've always done well in hurdles, jumps and the distance races, but I don't think we got shut out in anything tonight, and that's important. What we have on this team this year is a bunch of gamers. They back up their talk."
The Loudoun Valley girls received a similarly balanced performance in completing their undefeated season, finishing with 128 points to edge out two-time defending champion Stone Bridge (113 points). Loudoun County placed third with 105 points.
Senior Alicia Essex scored in all six events in which she competed for the Vikings, anchoring the school's winning 4x100 relay (51.93 seconds) and taking second in the 100 and 200, third in the long jump, fourth in the high jump and sixth in the triple jump. Loudoun Valley's girls also won the 4x800 meter relay.
"We've got great individuals, but we've built the foundation of our team on trying to perform well in the relays," Coach Bruce Pugh said. "It's that kind of team concept that we want to encourage. We scored 24 points off the relays and won by 15 . . . so that was the difference."
Falcons Run Away With It
The Fauquier boys' and girls' track and field teams also found success Thursday night at the Northwestern District meet, placing first and second, respectively. The Falcons boys are the defending Region II champions but had not won a district title in Coach Quentin Jones' five-year tenure. That ended following a 99-87 win over Brentsville this week.
"Winning the region last year was great, but for some reason we had never won the district, and I wanted to get that one bad," Jones said. "And we finally got it. It's a real credit to our depth and to how hard the kids fought. We were down by like 20 points [after the first day of competition] and scored 70 on the final night. It was something."
The Falcons picked up 48 points in the sprints alone, winning the 4x100 in 43.24 seconds and taking first, second and sixth in the 100 and 200. Luke Renick, Dwayne Foddrell and Jeremy Bland finished first, second and sixth, respectively, in the events.
Fauquier's girls finished second to Handley thanks to multiple wins from Sarah Bowman (800, 1,600, high jump) and first-place finishes in the 4x100 and 4x400.
"The girls were also down big [after the first day of competition] and rallied late to come back from fourth place to second," Jones said. "I'd been telling the kids all week we were going to take it one jump, one event at a time and enjoy it. I'm not sure if that worked, but maybe it helped take the stress off of them."