By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- The discus event, as Lucas Ryan will tell you, requires a lot of technique in order to be successful. The shot put, on the other hand, is simply a test to see who is truly the strongest guy out there.
"It's about as simple as it sounds," the Stonewall Jackson sophomore said. "[You're] just going out there and throwing it as far as you can."
That approach suits Ryan, and on Friday he showed the success that comes along with it. Ryan took first in the shot put event, hurling the weight an impressive 43 feet, 1.5 inches, helping Stonewall Jackson's boys to a first-place finish in the Shenandoah County Track and Field Meet.
"I felt good today because it was really hot out," Ryan said. "It wasn't cold like it usually is and I just went up there and tried to throw it as hard as I could. I didn't do well through the first throws, but in the finals I threw better."
His top distance earned him six points, part of 94 for the Generals' boys team on the day. That score was 18 points better than second-place finisher Central, which had 72, and 35 points better than Strasburg, which took third place. Massanutten Military Academy rounded out the boys scores with seven points.
And while Ryan dominated the field events, teammate Dylan Shirley found success in the track events. Shirley finished first in several events, including the 200-meter dash, the high jump, the long jump and the triple jump. A second-place finish in the 400-meter dash helped Shirley capture the individual male top performer award.
In the boys distance races, Strasburg's duo of Dylan Morey and Patrick Kohlhaas found themselves in the front of the pack. Morey and Kohlhaas took first and second in the 1,600-meter run, then followed that up with another first- and second-place finish in the 3,200-meter run.
"Usually when we take off, I'll go out first and Patrick will stay behind me," Morey said. "Then we'd run the race like that and try to stay as close as possible. That's usually how we try to stay together at the end of the race."
In the 1,600, Morey stressed the importance of the third of four laps, saying that lap is the one where "racers slow down and struggle to stay in the race." Using that mentality, Morey and the other Rams runners have been conditioned to use that opportunity to burst ahead of the pack.
"It we can get it there we can break people away," Morey said, "and then on the fourth lap try to go all out, so the third lap's definitely the most important."
On the girls side, Central's Lindsey Toothman earned top individual honors for the meet, finishing first in the 400-meter dash, long jump and triple jump and helping the Falcons to a second-place finish.
"It seems like the bigger the meet is, the better she does," Central coach Rick Lytton said. "And she's very well-rounded. She can jump and she can run, and she likes doing all of those things."
But while her performance helped her capture top honors in the girls individual race, it was Strasburg's girls team that took first place with 122 points. Strasburg's Hannah Clinedinst took first place in the 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles, while Gabrielle Giersch captured the top spot in the 300-meter hurdles and the high jump. The Rams finished off their performance with the trio of Sarah Elbon, Paige Shaw and Rachel Taylor. All three finished in the first three spots in both the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs. Elbon took first place in the 1,600, Taylor won the 3,200 and Shaw came in second place in both events. Strasburg's 122 points were well ahead of Central, which finished with 75 points, and Stonewall Jackson (32). Massanutten came in fourth place with three points.
"We had a lot of personal bests and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves," Lytton said. "It was a good meet. It's always a good meet with the four rivals."