Falcons aim to beat the heat at Region B meet

By Jeff Nations

Rick Lytton has practically a case of Gatorade on ice for today’s Region B track and field meet, and the Central coach expects the Falcons will go through all of it and then some.

With temperatures projected for the mid-90s for today’s meet at East Rockingham High School, Lytton has been stressing to his squad the importance of hydration heading into the competition.

“I told them yesterday to start drinking more fluids now,” Lytton said.

The Falcons need to be at their best, with several opportunities to advance to the upcoming Group A state championship meet on the line. The top six individuals and top three relays per event move on to Radford, with the only other option being a characteristically stiff qualifying mark.

“Of course I’m hoping all our kids get through to Radford,” Lytton said. “Especially our kids that are seeded in the top eight or nine, I’d like to see them improve enough to get into the top six.”

Central is counting on a big day from hurdlers Justin Bauserman and Brandon Ritter, who will compete in both the 110- and 300-hurdles today. Bauserman, the defending Group A state champion in the 300 hurdles, won last week’s Bull Run District title in both events. Ritter was second in the 110 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles, and fellow hurdler Max Shaffer also qualified with a sixth-place finish in the 110 hurdles.

The Falcons are also banking on serious points from throwers Josh Gum and Travis Cooper. Gum won both the shot and discus at last week’s Bull Run meet, although his throws weren’t his best this season. Cooper was second in the discus and fourth in the shot.

“He was not really pushed real hard in the shot at the district meet,” Lytton said of Gum. “He definitely will have competition in both events tomorrow.”

Other individual boys qualifers for Central are Felix Atilano (100 and 200), Logan Patrick (800) and Tristan Lucy-Spiedel (3,200). The Falcons also have two relays heading to East Rockingham after winning the district title in the 400-meter relay and taking second in the 1,600 relay.

Central also has a sizable contingent of girls heading to regional competition with hopes of getting through to the state meet. That group includes Lexi Keller (high jump, 400), Anna Ragland (high jump), Estefanie Reynoso (100 hurdles), Anne Jadot (100 and 400), Katie Ritenour (1,600 and 800), Bethany Neri (1,600 and 800), Elsa Garcia (1,600 and 3,200) and Heather Landes (3,200). The Falcons also qualified the 1,600 relay.

Strasburg’s girls will rely on its throwers to put up points today, led by Bull Run District discus champion Rachel Speaker. She’ll also compete in the shot put, and the Rams have Katie Dofermire (shot), McKenna Orndorff (shot, discus), Taylor Showalter (discus) and Kymbryanna Jackson (discus) also prepped to compete. The only non-thrower to move on to regional competition for the Rams was distance runner Rachel Taylor in the 3,200.

On the boys side, the Rams have top contenders in the sprints in Troy Gordon (100 and 200, plus the shot put) and in the distance events in Anthony Wallis (3,200 and 1,600). Strasburg skews toward the distance events, with Mark Colson (1,600), Timmy Wallis (3,200) and Maxmillian Middleton (1,600) all qualified to run today. Michael Conley earned spots in three events (100, 200 and 400), and Matt Clutter is in the high jump.

Defending Group A state champion Stonewall Jackson lost much of that talent to graduation, but the Generals still advanced a solid number of athletes through the Shenandoah District meet. That group includes Jeremiah Hines (800 and 1,600), Andrew Roy (800 and 1,600), Derrick Smith (400), Will Sterner (800) and Carlos Garcia (3,200). Stonewall also qualified its 1,600 relay for the regional meet.

For the girls, Stonewall is counting on its lone district champion to have a big day. Ashton Davis, who won that title in the 400, will compete in that event plus the high jump as well as run a leg on the Generals’ 1,600 relay.

Other qualifiers for Stonewall are Olivia Marshall (discus), Amanda Dotson (100 and 300 hurdles), Kortni Beeson (800 and 1,600), Christina Dinges (400) and Cheyanne Crigger (800).

Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or jnations@nvdaily.com>