Westfield senior Louis Corum woke before sunrise Saturday to prepare himself and his team for the Virginia AAA track and field championships at Todd Stadium.
And in his morning events, Corum set the stage for his team's first state track title. Corum matched or set personal bests in the discus (158 feet 3 inches), shot put (56-1) and high jump (6-6) to finish first, second and third, respectively, and he accounted for 24 of Westfield's winning total of 78 points.
"I've been practicing all year to get ready for this," Corum said. "I wanted to bring my best performance for states. . . . This is probably the best meet I've ever had."
"He's the backbone of our team," Westfield senior Philippe Tondereau said. "We saw what he did, and that got us pumped up for what we had to do."
Tondereau and his twin brother, Alvin, finished one-two in the 300 hurdles, Westfield All-Met David Lewis was second in the pole vault (area-best 15-6), and the Bulldogs' 4x400 relay finished second.
Corum, Lewis, the Tondereaus -- as well as other key contributors David Groff (fourth in the 800, anchor of the winning 4x800 team on Friday night) and James Scheiner (third leg in the 4x800) -- were among a big group of seniors who joined the track team as freshmen when the school opened in 2000.
Second-place Deep Creek (65.5 points) won the past three state titles.
"It's kind of like a fairy-tale ending," said Emily Utter, who coaches the team with her husband, Todd. "We've been with these guys all of their career and watched them grow. This was their goal from the very beginning, and they reached it."
Bethel won its record 10th girls' state title, scoring 54 points to beat Kellam, which had 38. Lake Braddock, which got a pair of second-place performances by All-Met Ashley Haislip in the high jump and pole vault and a second-place finish from Kelsey Snowden in the 800, tied Tallwood for third with 34.
The individual star of the day was LaShawn Merritt of Woodrow Wilson of Portsmouth, who became the third boys' athlete in meet history and first in 29 years to win the 100, 200 and 400. The East Carolina-bound Merritt also walked away with the records in the 100 (10.47) and 200 (21.13), records that were 15 and 24 years old, respectively.
But after the completion of his meet, Merritt lamented what he thought was a lost opportunity at the meet record in the 400. In that race, Merritt stayed close to the pack for the first 200 meters before moving ahead and winning in 47.69, more than a second behind the record.
"It's cool," Merritt said. "But I know what I could have done" in the 400.
Not far behind Merritt on Saturday was Jefferson's Christo Landry, who solidified his place as one of the best distance runners in Virginia history by achieving a difficult double in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Landry won the 1,600 in 4 minutes 13.39 seconds. Two hours later he edged Albemarle's Hari Mix, who will run for Stanford next year, in the 3,200 in a time of 9:13.74. Landry stayed behind Mix for most of the race before winning a duel over the final 400 meters.
The William & Mary-bound Landry earlier this year became the fourth-fastest two-miler in state history, but the two state championships Saturday were the first of his track and field career. The last runner to win the Virginia AAA 1,600 and 3,200 crowns was Sharif Karie of West Springfield in 1995; Landry tried at the indoor state championship in March and won neither race.
"I psyched myself out last time; this time I was ready," Landry said. As for the season full of accolades, "I still can't believe it. It still shocks me."
Hayfield All-Met junior Melissa Dewey rallied to finish as the only Washington area girl to win an event Saturday, winning the 3,200 in 10:47.70. She pulled ahead of Midlothian's Amanda Patterson late in the race and won easily.
Dewey's teammate, Brian Fussell, won the 800 by passing Westfield's Groff late and holding off several runners. He won in 1:55.97.
The day started ominously for the Tondereaus, neither of whom qualified for the 100 hurdles final. Spurred by Corum's effort, the duo rebounded to dominate the 300 hurdles and bring 18 important points toward the Bulldogs' team crown.
"I looked over and saw Alvin next me, and I was so excited," Philippe Tondereau said. "We wanted to get the team the points."