By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Fourteen schools participated in the first Ram Country Track and Field Invitational, hosted by Strasburg on Saturday.
It was Central's first meet of the season, and the second for Strasburg and Warren County.
The Central boys were trailing Millbrook by a mere eight points entering the entering the last event of the meet, the 4x400 relay.
But the Pioneers won the event convincingly to add 10 points to their tally, and take the first place team trophy, with 76.
Woodgrove came in second in the 4x400, tacking on eight points for a team total of 64 and second place overall.
The Falcons' quad of Daniel Molina, Jessee Cloyd, Logan Patrick, and Justin Bauserman, finished fourth at 3:48.55, to earn four points, and finish in third place overall, with 62.
But Bauserman took care of business elsewhere, overcoming a self-made hurdle, on the way to taking first place in both hurdles runs, clearing the 10 hurdles in the 110, at 15:25, and the eight hurdles along the 300 meter course, in 41:16
"In the 300 today, I got really messed up and I almost lost the race," Bauserman said. "I got messed up with my steps at the last turn and near the finish line. I had to stutter-step then jump it. Then I did OK, until at the end, I was all messed up.
"[My keys to success] are lot of practice, a lot of focus and a lot of determination."
Central's Josh Gum took first in the shot put, with a personal record, state-qualifying heave of 47-02.
"That was my third throw," Gum said. "My first two, I didn't really finish strong. On my last throw, I just kinda stuck my chest out because I knew I was going to be in finals and I just threw it.
"It ended up being a state-qualifying throw, which is really surprising, because I haven't thrown anything close to that. It felt good when it came out, so I knew it was going to be a good throw."
"I was very satisfied with the way we performed," Central coach Rick Lytton said. "As cold as it's been coming into the meet, we were a little behind schedule, but overall, we had some very good performances. We also had a lot of young kids. This is first big meet they've ever been in. I thought they performed very well."
Strasburg's boys runners were led by senior Troy Gordon, taking first in the 100-meter dash, at 11.38, with teammate Rakwon White taking third with 11.83.
The Rams' 4x100 relay team of Cody Darr, White, Michael Conley and Gordon had their eyes on a school record, but encountered a problem in the exchange between the number two and number three runners, and defaulted.
"That is an event where we knew we would be pretty good," Strasburg coach Glenn Proctor said. "I would say we had a 12 or 14 meter lead when that occurred. There was contact with their legs, not a problem with the baton handoff.
"In [that event], two guys have to share a 42-inch lane. Each guy's got 21 inches, and you gotta share that 21 inches, and when you don't you've got that kind of contact. It's not the kind of thing we can't iron out. It's better now, than at the end of the year. I'm sure the boys were devastated, but they'll live to run another day."
The Strasburg boys amassed 40 points to finish in seventh place.
Warren County senior Matt Nicholson took first in the long jump with a leap of 21-11.5, and captured another championship in the high jump, clearing 5 feet-10 inches, leading the Wildcats 11th place outcome, with 18.25 points.
It's rare for a team to dominate an event as thoroughly as Strasburg's girls did in the discus throw, where the Rams took the top three spots with senior Rachel Speaker in first (103-08), Kym Jackson second (99-06) and Taylor Showalter third (90-05).
"For my team, I think we're all really proud, especially because we got to do it at home, in our first invitational," Speaker said. "And for us to get the top three, it just shows how much hard work we've put in.
"It was my first attempt in the final round, it felt really good coming off my hand. I qualified for states today. And that's a really nice relief to relax and work on my technique to keep on improving."
The Strasburg girls weren't done with field events success, as Katie Dofermire took second (31-10), McKenna Orndorff third (31-03.5) and Speaker fifth (29-09.75) in the shot put.
The accomplishments in those two events contributed 24 points to Strasburg's girls team total of 41, putting the Rams in sixth place, overall.
Warren County got top-notch performances from Jasmain Ford, who took second in the 100 meter dash (13.25) and third in the long jump (14-11.25), while Rachel Oden was second in the 1,600 meter run (5:40.85)
Katie Harriman placed third in the high jump (5-00).
Warren County's 31 points put them in ninth place, Central was 11th with 20 points, and Stonewall Jackson earned 14 for 12th place.
"The jumping was excellent," Warren County coach Kennon Yeck said. "Matt [Nicholson] scratched on a couple of jumps, then hit a really good one -- a state qualifier. Jasmain did the same thing. Harriman did really well in the high-jump -- she also qualified for states.
"We will have a meet every Wednesday now, among the five teams in the [Evergreen] district [because of all the weather-related postponements]."
No one present had a more complete perspective on the Invitational's importance than Proctor.
"I can't find the words to express what it means to have had [this meet]," Proctor said. "I'm an old-timer. I've been here since 1964, and can think back to the days when there was just a dirt path here.
"Having been here in those days and to see an event to unfold like this today, it's historical. It will go in my mementos. It's a day that I will always remember."