By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- For Sherando track and field coach Tom Grim, 1 p.m. on Saturday was a pivotal hour, at least for his girls team.
Sherando's prom was Saturday night, and so an hour after noon, when the girls 4x100-meter relays began, Grim's upperclassmen left the Apple Blossom Invitational at James Wood in pursuit of scheduled hair appointments, elaborate dinners and limo rides.
To compete in the Invitational, the Warriors needed to garner as many points as possible by the end of the 4x100 -- before Grim was left with a handful of underclassmen.
The Warriors, for the most part, were successful: Lauren Wilkins took third in the long jump (15 feet, 05.25 inches) and Keyaira Newman took second in the shot put (33-01), leaving Sherando in fourth place midway through the meet.
But when Sherando's juniors and seniors fled the meet, and sophomore Shelby Spangler lined up for the 800-meter run, Sherando was neck-and-neck with Millbrook in the overall standings.
Spangler won the 800 (2:24.30), hurling Sherando ahead of Millbrook, then ran in the Warriors' fourth place 4x400 relay team (4:24.98). The four points the Warriors knotted in the mile relay gave Sherando 56 team points, good for second in the meet.
"I just had a lot left at the end," Spangler said of her 800-meter performance. "It was great -- I don't think I ever won the 800 in a big invitational before."
James Wood's Rachel Carson led for most of the 800 before Spangler found an extra burst in the final 100 meters. Carson finished third and Millbrook's Tammy Cheung finished fourth.
Frederick [Md.] won the Apple Blossom Invitational with 64 points. King George, which held second place going into the 4x400, finished third (54.33), while Millbrook finished fourth (48).
"Shelby is awesome," Grim said. "[Distance coach] Tim [Ritter] does a great job with the distance team that we have, and he gave her a plan, and she followed the plan perfect.
"Today wasn't about time, it was about place."
And while Spangler's winning of the 800 might have solidified Sherando's place as the highest scoring local team, the race was something of a bonus run for Cheung and teammate Crystal Nelson. The two finished first and second, respectively, in the 1,600-meter run, and were given the option of running the 800, just for kicks.
Their finishes in the mile run, though, were integral to Millbrook's ability to keep pace with Sherando deep into the meet.
"I didn't realize how close we were to Sherando until my coach told me we were," Nelson said. "It feels really great that me and [Tammy Cheung] contributed a lot to our point scoring, so I was really happy about that."
Nelson finished the mile run in 5:17.82 and Cheung set a personal record with her time of 5:10.27 -- interesting considering she led by about 50 meters for most of the race.
Cheung said she was "racing against time," rather than the other runners. Had another runner kept pace with her, Cheung believes she might have broken the 5:05 mark, her goal coming into the race.
"I did my best," she said. "It felt like I was basically running by myself and running against time.
"I'm comfortable with that either way, with someone ahead of me or not, but I just like pushing overall."
Millbrook trailed Sherando 52-48 heading into the 4x400, and Sherando trailed King George by two points. Neither Millbrook nor King George placed high enough in the 4x400 to earn points, finishing seventh and 13th, respectively.
Handley's 38 points, much of which were earned by the Judges' relay teams, finished sixth in the meet. Handley took first in the 4x400-meter relay (4:12.43) and second in the 4x100-meter relay (51.87). Lisa Meneau won the 300-meter hurdles (47.74) for the Judges.
James Wood (31.33) placed seventh behind Carson's finish in the 1,600 (5:23.20) and the 800 (2:24.81). The Colonels placed second in the 4x400 (4:18.92).
Kayla Gibbons took second in the 3,200 (11:45.27) for 10th-place Warren County, and Gabe Giersch finished third in the high jump (4-10) for Strasburg, which finished 11th overall. Taylor Cockerille had a third-place showing in the discus (103-03) for the Rams.
Oshene Kelly won the triple jump (34-02.25) and took second in the long jump (15-05.25) for Skyline.
Clarke County finished with nine team points.