By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WINCHESTER -- Alaina Combs waited patiently as the Northwestern District track meet helpers struggled with the tape measure in the discus event. Then when the number 109 feet was called out, she gave a fist pump to the crowd.
Things started off a little rocky for the Sherando junior, but she rebounded to win two events at the meet at Handley and help the Warriors to take a second-place finish as a team.
Combs scratched on her first two throws in the preliminary round and took some advice from Sherando throws coach Mike Marsh.
"I scratched my first two, but I was talking to my coach [Marsh] and I was just telling him that my nerves are getting to me," Combs said. "He was like 'just get one in' and I had a bunch of pressure on me on my last throw I ended up hitting like 100-2 inches throw. [Marsh] was like 'OK now in the finals you just gotta go for it.'"
Combs went for it and passed her teammate, Rachel Dixon, to win the discus. Combs said her dad is always telling her that it only takes one good throw to win, and those words helped her overcome the nerves.
"That's kind of what I was thinking the whole entire time," Combs said of her dad's advice. "It just helped me relax and calm myself down."
Combs stayed focused as she won the shot put later in the day. She saved her best throw for last as her throw of 34-06 helped her win by almost two feet.
"The shot put just felt like a feather to me and I just flung it out there," Combs said. "I'm going to regionals in both. Hopefully I'll go there and place in both and go to states in both -- that's my goal.
"You just gotta take it one step at a time and I'm proud of what I did today."
The Warriors finished with 144 points, just seven points behind Handley's 151.
Sherando's other winner in the meet was Nisha Moore in the 800. The senior same out of the gates fast and held off James Wood's Amber Hawkins for the win.
"She has good endurance," Moore said of Hawkins. "She has a good kick at the end. I knew If I didn't get out fast that she would kick it at the end and pass me."
Moore's time of 2:21.40 was a PR, and she said she was very happy with it especially considering it's the first year she's run it. Moore also runs the 400 and has already qualified for states in that event.
"They bumped me up [to 800] this year and I was hesitant, and trying to find out how I should race it, because it's totally different than the 400," Moore said. "But I think I'm starting to find that."
Moore also finished second in the 100 with a time of 13.46. Sherando's Katie Rogers placed third in the 1,600 with a time of 5:46.30.
Sherando's Angelique Matthews was third in the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.08, and teammate Candice Banks was third in the 300 hurdles (48.40).
The Warriors were also strong in the jumps. Sherando's Laurel Morton was second in the high jump (4-10, and teammate Michelle Baker was third (4-08). Matthews was second in the long jump (16-09) and third in the triple jump (33-10). Morton was second in the triple jump (34-03).
"I'm real proud of my girls, they did a heck of a job," Sherando coach Tom Grim said. "I knew it was going to be a real dogfight between us and Handley. They've got the big scorers, but we've got the seconds, thirds, fourths, and we did that all year. I knew at this meet there wasn't enough to buffer us between them -- to take away some points from them."
Shayne Clifton led Skyline, finishing fifth in both the high jump (4-08) and shot put (30-04.5).
Handley easily won the boys meet with 175 points, James Wood was second with 105. Sherando finished fourth with 83 points, while Skyline was fifth with 30.
The Hawks were led by senior Darius Schmitz. He finished second in the 110 hurdles with a 16.45.
"It was pretty good," Schmitz said. "Definitely way better than I anticipated. It feels good."
He followed that up with a second in the triple jump (42-00.50), and fourth in the long jump (20-08.25) and high jump (5-10).
"I did way better than I thought," Schmitz said. "I'm excited to be going to regionals. I know there will be some crazy competition there."
Sherando was without senior Chris Smith due to injury, but the Warriors still had a solid showing. Seth Chewey finished second in the 800 (2:01.48) and James Reese was second in the 10:16.37. Sherando won the 1,600 and 800 relays.
"Overall, I thought we did great," Grim said of the boys team. "Chris, he would've scored a lot of points. I'm not sure we would've had anything for Handley, but we probably would've been at least second."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com