By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WINCHESTER - Despite the Warriors' girls 4x400 relay team departing before their event, Sherando's girls team took second place among the 19 schools entered in the in the 72nd annual Handley Track and Field Invitational, at James R. Wilkens, Jr. Stadium, Saturday afternoon.
Sherando sophomore Laurel Morton won the girls triple jump, but was unaware that she won until after the meet.
Morton's jump of 33-06.5 was one inch better than Clarke County's Miles Crosby's best effort.
Like the relay quartet, Morton left the stadium early to prepare for Sherando's prom.
""It felt really good and I'm excited," Morton said in a phone interview. "That's a new personal record.
"My first jump was OK, but my second one was bad. So I had to put that out of my mind. I did better on the next two, and my fifth was my best one."
Senior Nisha Moore's accomplishments included taking second in 400 (1:01.63), one second off her PR. She also ran the anchor in the second-place 4x800 relay (10:25.59) with Caitlin Dolan, Haley Powers, and Katie Rogers.
"[Getting the baton in the relay], I knew that we could possibly make a comeback to pass the only team in front of us [Tuscarora], and it was going to be pretty close," Moore said. "It wasn't our best race, but we still finished close to our best time [10:05.19].
"I starting running the 400 in my junior year, so my strategy is get out fast in the first 100 meters, because my body doesn't really change pace. I get comfortable at one pace, so I get out quick and hold on. This is only the second time I've run in the 400 this year. I'll be concentrating on it more now, so I should improve my time."
Alaina Combs hurled the discus 106-10 for second place, and heaved the shot put 30-09.25 to earn fifth for Sherando.
On the track the Sherando girls picked up second and third in the 100 hurdles with Angelique Matthews (17.13) and Candice Banks (17.16), respectively.
Following the penultimate event of the meet, the 3,200, the Warriors had 77 points, and trailed Harrisonburg by 2 1/2 points for first place.
The Blue Streaks relay squad earned eight points with a second-place finish in the 4x400, to earn the girls team championship with 87.5 points.
The James Wood girls (69) took third, and defending Group AA champion Handley, came in fourth (67).
Sherando senior Chris Smith was a true warrior in overcoming a nagging injury to take first in the boys high jump, with a 6-04 leap, one inch shy of his 2012 Group AA state championship mark.
Smith's mostly horizontal leap of 19-08 was sixth in the long jump, and he finished sixth in the 400 (53.6).
"[I won on] my third attempt, my last one, and I pulled it out of nowhere, in the clutch," Smith said. "So I'm glad I did that. I have tendonitis in my left, take-off knee. I've been dealing with it for about three weeks.
"I took two weeks off to see if I could heal it a little bit. This is my first meet coming back. I''m probably 90 percent and I'm shooting for seven feet."
The Warrior's 4x800 relay quad duplicated the girls' second place success, with Seth Chewey, Ryan Hindle, Daniel Snapp, and Trevor Whiteside combining for an 8:18.08 outcome.
Sherando's boys took sixth place with 39 points.
The host Handley boys team earned the championship with 66 points, Loudoun County was second (54.5), and James Wood took third (46).
"I'm real pleased," Sherando coach Tom Grim said. "My girls team is real solid. My boys team right now is a little banged up. Chris Smith is coming off an injury. I've got some sprinters that are kind of laid up now and we didn't bring them.
"My girl throwers have been doing real well. Alaina [Combs] and Rachel [Dixon] have been solid all year. Then Laurel [Morton] and Candice Banks did real well in the jumps today. [Banks] didn't run the 300 hurdles because of prom. I think we could have done a little better, except they had to get ready for prom."
Warren County boys multi-event contributor Matt Nicholson collected a second in long jump (21-08.75) and third in the high jump (6-02), then went to the track for a fifth-place finish in the 100 (11.95) for the Wildcats, whose 25 points put them in 14th place.
The Warren County girls were without Jasmain Ford, a reliably top-rank performer in the 100 dash and long jump, as they finished in 12th place (16.5)
Katy Harriman won third in the high jump (4-10 jump-off) and Rachel Oden's 5:40.6 outing captured fourth in the 1,600 for the Wildcats.
"[Ford] has been sick for about a week and a half," Wildcats coach Kennon Yeck said. "Otherwise, I've been really pleased with our jumpers today - great performances today.
"[Nicholson] was playing baseball, but he's doing full-time track now for the rest of the season, so he'll improve even more."
The only Skyline athlete to earn points was Kare Summers-Butler, at fifth in the boys discus (124-03).
The Most Valuable Participant awards are named for Handley athletes from the 1950s.
James Wood's Amber Hawkins earned the Joseph "Doc" Casey award as girls MVP, by winning the 800 (2:24.14) and 1,600 (5:18.71) runs, and participating on the third-place 4x400 relay team.
Patrick Joseph, Loudoun County senior and defending group AA state champion, won the 800 run in 1:52.64, a new PR, and eclipsed Handley grad Jason Morgan's 1985 meet record by six hundrendths of a second, to win the Otis "Snag" Sargeant boys MVP trophy.