The pain of a blazing first lap in the anchor leg of the 4x800-meter relay set into Oakton senior Danielle Light well before the finish line yesterday, the first day of the Virginia AAA track and field championships in Newport News, Va.

But after building a lead by running her first 400 meters in 62 seconds, there was no stopping the All-Met from giving her team the victory in an area-best 9 minutes 17.42 seconds, more than three seconds better than second-place Robinson.

"It was painful by about 200 [meters] to go," Light said. "But with 100 to go, there was no way I was going to let anything get in the way."

Also yesterday, Herndon sophomore Abe Dagnachew withstood a late challenge to lead the Hornets to an exciting win in the boys' 4x800 (7:49.89). Lake Braddock senior All-Met Jon Cowden won the boys' discus in a career-best 181 feet.

Bowman Sets Record

Fauquier senior Sarah Bowman set the meet record in the 3,200 meters on the first day of the Virginia AA track and field championships in Harrisonburg, Va., finishing in 10:21.15. The All-Met Runner of the Year shattered the previous record of 10:46.03 -- in just her third 3,200 in competition.

Park View freshman Natalie Baird also set a meet record, winning the discus with a throw of 139 feet 11 inches. Brentsville's Lauren Robinson, Maria Cheshire, Wendy Stober and Rachel Hamilton won the 4x800 relay in 9:45.10, and Brentsville senior Pat Eggleston won the boys' 3,200 in 9:37.51.

Robinson Boys Fall

The Robinson boys' tennis team lost its first match of the season, falling 5-3 to Douglas Freeman in the Virginia AAA semifinals in Newport News.

Robinson (20-1) got wins from its top two singles players, freshman No. 1 Drew Courtney and junior No. 2 Mike Smith, and from Courtney and Smith at No. 1 doubles. Douglass Freeman today will make its fourth appearance in the state title match in five years, playing Mills Godwin, a 6-3 winner over Jefferson yesterday.

The Chantilly and Langley girls' teams fell in the semifinals, as well. Making its first appearance in the state tournament, Northern Region champion Chantilly suffered a 5-2 loss to Cox. Langley fell, 5-0, to three-time defending champion Mills Godwin. Chantilly, which went 12-2 for the best record in program history, got wins from seniors Amy Chang and Jenna Marson.

-- Sean P. Flynn

Andrew Levine, Judith Evans

and Jon DeNunzio