Fauquier junior Sarah Bowman, the All-Met outdoor track and field athlete of the year, had just set a state record in the 1,600-meter run at Saturday's Virginia AA championships at James Madison University. But before she could even catch her breath, she started making her way to the high jump pit.
"Are you guys waiting on me?" she asked. "Sorry."
Sure enough, the bar had been raised to 5 feet 2 inches, and only two other competitors remained. Bowman, who had decided to enter at that difficult height so she did not have to jump before she completed the mile, asked for just another minute more to warm up.
She did two quick practice runs, bent over for a second to stretch her legs and then peeled off the sweat suit that covered her uniform. She cleared 5-2 on her first attempt and tried desperately to pull back on her sweat pants as she hurried to the award podium in the middle of the infield where they were calling her to receive a medal for her previous record-breaking performance.
Before they could get to the award presentation, however, Bowman noticed that the other two competitors in the high jump had made their first attempts at 5-3. She left and ran back for her first jump at that height, now keeping the other medal winners in the mile waiting.
"This is crazy," Bowman yelled as she shuttled back and forth. "But it's all for my team."
By the end of the day, Bowman had helped account for 38 of the Falcons' 501/2 points. In addition to winning the mile, she was first in the 800, anchored the winning 4x400 relay team and was second in the high jump. Fauquier narrowly missed claiming its first state team title, finishing second to Courtland (521/2 points).
"Sometimes it's so much more rewarding to do things when you're doing them for your team," Bowman said. "That's the only reason I even high-jumped at all. I wanted to do as much as I could to help us. All of the other girls, I know, were doing the same."
Lott Gains Ground for Falcons
Though Bowman anchored Fauquier's winning 4x400 relay team, junior Renee Lott put Bowman in position to win the event. The third leg of the relay team, Lott received the baton with the Falcons in seventh place.
Knowing the final team score would be close, Lott took off. It wasn't until the back stretch that she had passed her first competitor. One by one Lott overtook those in front of her, moving Fauquier just a half-step out of first place by the time she handed off to Bowman.
"She was taking them out like they were standing still," Bowman said. "It was amazing."
The Falcons went on to win the relay by nearly two seconds over Western Albemarle, finishing in 4 minutes 4.05 seconds.
"I knew I had a lot of ground to make up," Lott said. "But I had so much adrenaline."
Spartans' Coleman Sweeps
Broad Run senior Michael Coleman was the big individual winner on the boys' side, completing the rare feat of sweeping all the sprint events, winning the 100 (meet-record 10.58 seconds) and also taking the 200 (21.55) and 400 (48.86). Before Saturday, no runner had accomplished the feat since 1975, according to Virginia High School League records. (Terrance Warren of Kennedy-Suffolk won the Group AA 100 and 400 in 1988, and no winner in the 200 was recorded.)
After 29 years, Coleman became one of two male runners to win the three sprints Saturday. LaShawn Merritt of Wilson-Portsmouth also swept the sprints at the Virginia AAA meet in Newport News.
"People had been telling me all week that this almost never happens," Coleman said. "And that just made me want it more. But actually coming away with three gold medals feels amazing. It's almost surreal."
Brown, Adeka Win State Titles
Two other area individuals claimed state titles Saturday: Loudoun Valley sophomore Blair Brown in the high jump and Stone Bridge senior Geonna Adeka in the discus.
Brown, in her first year of track, said she initially joined the team simply to stay in shape and help improve her jumping skills for the upcoming volleyball season. She won the state title by clearing 5-3 but jumped 5-6 this season.
"This is kind of like my fun sport," Brown said. "I mean, I have fun playing volleyball, of course, but with track I don't get as competitive or as stressed out about it. It's still exciting to win, though."
Adeka, the state runner-up a year ago in discus, earned her first state championship in the event with a personal-best throw of 133-6 -- a throw 13 feet farther than her closest competitor. She also finished third in the shot put at 38-41/2, improving upon last season's fourth-place result.
"It's been a long wait," Adeka said of earning the state title. "But that just makes it more exciting. It's a very cool feeling."