By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Strasburg's track and field team had been waiting patiently for its 2013 season to finally get under way, as that elusive first meet of the season simply seemed as if it would never arrive.
But after falling victim to several postponements and cancellations, the Rams finally kicked off their season with their first event this year at Warren County on Wednesday afternoon.
Although the event -- which was originally scheduled for March 27 -- was downgraded from a four-team meet to a dual as Randolph-Macon Academy and Moorefield (W. Va.) were unable to attend, the Rams were more than willing to brave the wind and the cold as long as it meant being able to compete.
"It was so long awaited. It's hard to imagine that we've been doing this since Feb. 19, and this is April 3," Strasburg coach Glenn Proctor said. "Even though this isn't the perfect conditions, at least we got a meet and got one under our belt."
Warren County and Strasburg have their sights set on Saturday's Ram Country Invitational at Strasburg, and both teams used Wednesday's dual as a chance to get some much-needed practice time in before the meet. Warren County won the boys meet 68-52, while Strasburg won the girls 57-48.
Although Wednesday was essentially a tune-up for both schools, the Rams' boys 4x100 relay team did manage to provide one of the highlights of the afternoon.
Strasburg's four-man team of Cody Darr, Rakwon White, Michael Conley and Troy Gordon set a new school record in the relay, finishing the race in 45.66 seconds. The previous record, which was set in 1986, stood at 45.90 seconds, according to Proctor.
Proctor said the group has had its sights set on the record before the season began, and the longtime coach was impressed that they were able to beat the longstanding record in Strasburg's first event of the year.
"We were strong, about where we expected to be," Proctor said. "We know that on the boys side we're going to be pretty good in the sprints and the sprint relay, and the jumps and the distance events."
Warren County showed some bright spots of its own on Wednesday, as several athletes turned in solid days in preparation for Saturday's meet.
Wildcats senior Matt Nicholson, who finished third in the boys long jump with a leap of 22-01.5 in last year's Group AA state meet, took the top spot in the dual event on Wednesday with a jump of 22-06.5. Nicholson's jump was nearly three feet better than White's second-place leap of 19-09.
Nicholson also won the high jump with a height of 5-10, beating Strasburg's Matt Clutter by four inches.
Warren County senior Jasmain Ford was also pleased with her afternoon, which consisted of wins in the girls 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and the long jump.
Ford started her day strong with a good performance in the long jump, leaping a distance of 16-02 on her second attempt to claim the top spot, and the senior also won the 200-meter dash with a time of 30.8 seconds.
Ford was less impressed with her time in the 100-meter dash, as her winning time of 14.17 fell well short of her personal-record 12.2 seconds.
"It was embarrassing to me. My PR is 12.2 seconds, and I guess the wind -- I don't know what happened today, but the time was not what I expected at all," Ford said. "Today was overall a good day. The wind was really bad but I won all three of my events, so that is always good. It prepares me for Saturday."
The wind provided a tough challenge for sprinters all afternoon, as the steady gusts were blowing directly into the faces of runners during the 100 meter and 200 meter events.
"It's a big factor. Running against the wind makes it pretty hard to get a good time," said White, who won the boys 100 meter with a time of 11.41. "It's just hard to run against something that is coming towards you. Hopefully Saturday there is no wind at all."
Warren County dominated the middle distance events in both the boys and the girls competitions, and swept the boys' weight events. In contrast, Strasburg showed its strength in the girls' weight events and the distance events in both the boys and girls competitions.
Wednesday's dual provided both coaches with a chance to get a better feel for their respective teams, and both Proctor and Warren County coach Kennon Yeck were pleased with what they saw.
"We'll know a little bit more after Saturday, but all-in-all, it was a good meet and a good day," Proctor said.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org