By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Justin Bauserman vividly remembers last year's 300-meter hurdles state final. The Central junior certainly remembers the feeling of winning the state title in the event, but he also remembers how it happened.
Manassas Park's Chuck Moorman hit one of the hurdles, which then hit Bauserman during the run. Moorman was disqualified, and as the runner-up in the race, Bauserman was awarded the state title. At today's Group A state track meet at Radford University, Bauserman wants to win the race on the track.
"I'm ready to go out there, and I want to win the race," Bauserman said.
Based on times this season, Bauserman is favored to win both the 300 hurdles and the 110 hurdles.
Being the defending champion in the 300 hurdles and having the top time in both hurdle events, Bauserman said he does feel the pressure, but he knows his experience could also help him.
In the 300 hurdles, he's went up against many of his competitors before because most of them are from the Bull Run District or Region B. Bauserman said he especially loves racing against Moorman, now a senior, and his Manassas Park teammate Ryan Kolb.
"They'll talk to you before the race," Bauserman said. "They'll talk about the race. But once race time comes up, it's all business."
Last year Bauserman didn't do as well in the 110 hurdles, but said he wants nothing more than to sweep the hurdle events this year.
"The 110's -- it's new to me," Bauserman said. "It's something I'm thirsty for, too. I want to go out there and get that, too, and have both of them.
"I keep thinking I've got to run my best race and I think I've got it. But it's hard to say that and then do it because anything can happen."
Bauserman is just one of a bundle of athletes aiming to win a state title today.
Central junior Josh Gum knows winning the state title will be a difficult task in the discus and the shot put. His top shot put throw puts him 10th on the performance list, but his discus throw is sixth.
Virginia's Nikolas Huffman's top throw of 179-07 and Radford's James Williams' 179-04 are the heavy favorites going in. Gum's top throw of the season in competition is 150-03.
"Really all you can do is your best and let the cards fall where they may," Gum said. "You gotta do your best and whatever happens, happens.
"The discus throw I have [on the performance list] is not my best. I've thrown a couple further in warm up, so hopefully I can get one down in competition and really show myself on Saturday."
Central coach Rick Lytton thinks Gum has his best throws in front of him.
"I think Josh will do well," Lytton said. "He's been coming on, throwing better every week since the [Shenandoah] county meet. In the big meets he's done well this year."
Central's Travis Cooper could also be a factor in the discus, as could teammate Brandon Ritter in the 110 hurdles. Lexi Keller (400) and Katie Ritenour (1,600) lead the way for the Central girls team.
Strasburg is led by Rachel Speaker (discus) on the girls side. She has the second longest throw (120-03) entering the state meet. James River's Alexis Brown has the top throw (122-06).
The Rams have several others who should be factors at the meet, including Taylor Showalter (discus), Sarah Elbon (3,200) and Rachel Taylor (3,200).
On the boys side, Strasburg should be led by Anthony Wallis in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Troy Gordon won the regional title in the 100 last week for the Rams and should also be a factor in the 200. Mark Colson could also have a big day for the Rams in the 3,200.
Stonewall Jackson should be led by Ashton Davis (girls 400) and Andrew Roy (boys 800).
Central should be a contender for the boys team title. The Falcons finished second in the Region B meet by a point to Dan River. Lytton said he is hoping the Falcons can finish in the top three.
Coming so close to winning last week has given the Falcons extra motivation.
[Last week] was devastating, but we got over it," Bauserman said. "I think that's going to push us this week even harder to get that state championship. I think we can do it.
"As many people as we're coming with, and the talent that we have this year -- I think we can pull something out."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org