The football season did not go as well as Lake Braddock senior Jon Cowden had hoped, but it did not deter Cowden from continuing to work hard in track and field.
On Friday afternoon at the Virginia AAA track and field championships at Todd Stadium, the work paid off as the All-Met capped his strong season in the discus with a career-best throw that gave him the state title.
"This was a second sport, but it has turned out to be my first sport," said Cowden, who will compete in track for Radford next year. Cowden joined the Bruins' track team as a sophomore.
Cowden threw 181 feet, beating the top seed, Michael Zajac, by almost seven feet. Cowden surpassed his previous best by more than three feet to become one of just two Washingon area boys to win individual titles at the state meet.
Cowden joined the track team as a sophomore, and stuck with it. This year he was chosen All-Met after having the Washington area's best mark in the discus. That mark improved on Friday night.
"Once football was over, it was natural just to go to practice, and I enjoyed practice and it felt like something I'd like to do in the future," Cowden said. "There were great coaches, and they spent the time with me. And now, with the extra time and help, I'm going to nationals. You can't complain with that."
After running a grueling 1,600-meter run and coming away with an impressive second-place finish, Oakton senior Jason Vick wasn't certain he would run in the 3,200 later in the meet.
But at the urging of his coaches, he stayed in and it paid off -- Vick surged into the lead during the final lap and won the title in 9:27.33.
"With maybe 1,000 meters to go, I saw that the first four guys who were leading were starting to slow down, and I was really starting to make up ground," Vick said. "I had saved my energy a little bit, and maybe at the end I could really start closing on them."
Beware of 'Dogs
Behind a couple of surprising performances early in the meet, the Westfield girls found themselves in the hunt for a state championship all day Saturday. The Bulldogs, who feature a large squad of underclassmen, ended up third and showed what the future may hold.
First, sophomore Betsy Alter won the pole vault Friday night with a vault of 10 feet 6. The next morning, Aimee Kodat took second in the discus after being seeded 12th.
"This is a young team, we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores who contributed," Coach Todd Utter said. "We're excited about the future."