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Sherando's Smith, Skyline's Madden earn AA crowns

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Thomas Madden

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Chris Smith

By Dennis Atwood - sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- Sherando's Chris Smith prevailed to win the high jump championship in a double jump-off marathon, and Skyline's Thomas Madden and Seumas O'Reilly of Warren County finished first and second in the 3,200-meter run in the Group AA state Track and Field meet at Harrisonburg High School on Saturday.

The Friday evening events were postponed by stormy weather, requiring the entire meet to be conducted on a long Saturday.

The scheduling change resulted in reduced participation by Madden and O'Reilly, as neither could participate in the 800-meter run due to its coming two hours after the 1,600-meter run and one hour prior to the 3,200 meter run, which was originally scheduled for Friday evening.

Handley captured the girls team championship with 64 points, E.C. Glass (53) took second, and Blacksburg (50) third. Warren County finished 38th (3.5), among the 47 schools scoring points.

E.C. Glass showed its across-the-board power by winning the boys team championship with 50 points, nosing out second-place Loudoun County (48), and third-place Lafayette (45).

Skyline's 26 points earned seventh place, Sherando took 11th (19.33), and Warren County 14th (17), among the 49 schools on the boys' ledger.

Smith, a junior, had the No. 1 seed mark of 6-06.00, and reached the final attempts in the high jump against a single opponent, junior Cameron Holden of Staunton River, with the No. 5 seed mark of 6-04.

Smith cleared 6-04 and 6-05 on his first attempt, while Holden cleared 6-05 on his second try.

With the bar at 6-06, both athletes missed all three attempts, as Sherando coaches and fans outside the fence cheered, thinking that Smith had won the championship due to the sequence at 6-05.

But event officials required a fourth attempt at 6-06, which both jumpers missed. Then a jump-off was conducted with three attempts allowed at each height.

With Holden jumping first, both athletes missed all three attempts at 6-05 and 6-04, and both cleared 6-03 on their second jump.

With the bar back up to 6-04, Holden cleared it on his first attempt, then Smith missed the mark, and Holden was declared the champion, at about 2 p.m.

Approximately an hour later, Smith and Holden returned to the high jump circle, with a new set of officials, a result of a successful protest filed by Sherando coach Tom Grim about the way the jump-off was being conducted.

"I did not witness it, but my high jump coach did," Grim said. "He told me [Smith] cleared it on his first attempt at 6-05, and [Holden] cleared it on his second attempt, and it should [have been over]. They recorded it [differently] in the book. So there's a tie and you have to jump it off. So, then, they did their extraordinary jump-off.

"They ran it wrong. There should have been one attempt at each height. I had to point it out to them in the rule book. So, I protested, and it was upheld because they applied the rules wrong."

In the second jump-off, with single attempts at each height, Holden again jumped first. Smith and Holden both missed at 6-05, both cleared 6-04, then missed the second go at 6-05.

In the second round at 6-04, Holden dislodged the bar and Smith cleared it, to earn the championship, in a jump-off properly conducted by the rules.

"I had gone to sleep, and just like that, I was told I had to jump again," Smith said. "My legs were tired, but I had to warm up and go ahead and do it, and I was happy to pull it off.
I feel good that I won, but I feel a little bad for [Holden]. He was really good competition and he'll be good competition next year."

Madden and O'Reilly employed distinctly different tactics in the 3,200-meter run.
Madden, a junior, was in seventh place through the third lap, then surged from sixth to first on lap five, then held the lead nearly the entire time through laps six and seven, and took first place by crossing the finish line at 9:25.95, nearly 30 seconds slower than his seed time.

"The pace was really slow and I guess because we were tired from the [1600] and all, I knew it wasn't about time, it was about the win, so I just felt like taking it," Madden said. "So I took it [the lead] and tried to push the pace a little. I knew I had to be up near the lead, so why not.

"I knew it was going to be a kickers' race because it was so slow. But I like that. So, it played right into my hands. I was just given the strength to kick it in on the last lap."

O'Reilly, in his final race for Warren County, was in first place at the end of the first three laps, then bounced between second and third in laps four through seven, but couldn't match Madden's kick concluding the last lap, and took second with a 9:26.72 effort, more than 26 seconds behind his seed time.

"Way over nine minutes, I just wasn't with it," O'Reilly said. "[Going out in first place] isn't my usual strategy. Our pace was just too slow. I tried to push it, but I wasn't able to do it.

"I wanted to win, but it doesn't always happen. This is my last race in [a Wildcats] jersey, I just wanted to win, if I could."

Just three hours earlier, Madden's 4:16.80 earned second place in the 1,600-meter run, behind Loudoun County's Patrick Joseph's winning mark of 4:15.71.

O'Reilly took sixth in the 1600, with a time of 4:20.04.

Warren County junior Matt Nicholson jumped 22-01.5 to take third in the long jump. Sherando's Devon Newman finished sixth with 21-09.5.

"My first attempt was the best one," Nicholson said. "I just wanted to get out there and get a good mark the first time. It feels good. My coach just said, 'Believe in it,' and I went out there and did it."

For the Warren County girls, Leanna Eisenmann won sixth in the 3,200-meter run, with a 11:30.76 and Katy Harriman cleared the long jump bar at 5-00, to tie for eighth place.
Skyline sophomore Tavon Andrade won sixth place in the boys 300 hurdles with 40.52 and finished seventh in the 110 hurdles at 15.20.

The Skyline boys, with a 43.86 effort, took sixth in the 4x100 relay, while Sherando's boys captured seventh in the 4x400 relay, with a 3:27.75 mark.

Thomas Ritter heaved the shot 51-03.75 for sixth place, setting a new Sherando school record for the shot put.

"That was on my second attempt," Ritter said. "My first attempt was a power throw, just to put one out there, and my second attempt was me going after it, and it went straight down the middle.

"I believe that the school record was set in 2003. This was my goal as a senior, on my last throw, to break the school record. I'm happy that my name's going be [in the trophy case] for a very long time."


It's sad that this paper only covered the schools in Shenandoah County, and a small article about the schools in Warren Co. Are you afraid that the accomplishments of the teams and athletes in Frederick County would over shadow what the schools did there? Amazing how bias this paper really is. Congratulations to the Handley Judges girls track team for winning the AA state team title, and to Crystal Nelson for here 2 state titles. Also, a shout out to Katie Houser for her 4th place finish in the girls high jump, Joey Bynog for his 7th place in the discus, Amber Hawkins for her second in the 1600 and 4th in the 3200, and McKezie Shrenk for her 8th in the 110 hurdles.

The coverage on a state meet is one of the worst I have ever seen by this newspaper. To not even mention that Handley had five state champions and Millbrook had two is ridiculous. I know that I ended my subscription to the Winchester Star because of their local coverage and it appears that the NVD is going the same route. I question whether the reporter even watched the girls events. I believe that the coverage was about the same at the Region II meet. If you do not want to cover Winchester, then do not pretend to do so. Hopefully the new publishers can find someone who knows local sports because local coverage will be the only item to sustain the circulation of this paper

I am saddened but not shocked at the poor coverage this meet received even though it was a STATE CHAMPIONSHIP and a multitude of athletes did very well. It seems that the newspapers in this area give sports like track the same support as the schools do: the bare minimum. When a football or basketball team wins a state title (or even advances deep into the playoffs), there are police escorts and parades. Sadly, the young men and women who saw their hard work pay off with stellar performances at the top level are not getting the same praise as those who win in the major sports.

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