By Jeff Nations
WOODSTOCK -- You can examine the Virginia High School League record book, at your leisure, simply be tracking down the venerable organization's website, clicking the relevant links, and opening that ever-expanding history of state championship and champions.
Take a look at the 2011 VHSL Group A state track and field championships -- specifically, the boys 300-meter hurdles.
You'll notice a single numeral -- 1 -- followed by a period, followed by a name. That name is Justin Bauserman, then a Central sophomore.
What you will not notice is an asterisk, which makes sense because there is no asterisk to be found.
For much of this season, though, Bauserman -- in his heart of hearts -- placed that asterisk by his own name. That's because the victory came by default, sort of, when Manassas Park's Chuck Moorman crashed into a hurdle and veered into Bauserman's lane for a brief collision. Moorman recovered and went on to cross the finish line first. Bauserman, who was the runner-up, was awarded the state title when Moorman was disqualified for that contact during the race.
Bauserman had something to prove, and he did by coming back to win the 300 hurdles once more this season and defend his state title. This time, he crossed the finish line first.
"It feels good," Bauserman said. "It's cool to do it again, but next year is the one -- it's going to be my senior year, it'll be three times, that's going to be the special moment. But this year was special, too."
It was special, enough so to earn Bauserman the title as the Northern Virginia Daily's 2013 Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. A force for the Falcons all season long, Bauserman went unbeaten in both the 110 hurdles and the 300 hurdles all the way up until that state competition in Radford.
Let's just say the state competition didn't exactly get off to a dream start for Bauserman, and he can blame his start for that. Seeded first in the state for both hurdles events, Bauserman is quick to admit that the 110s don't come nearly as easy as the 300 hurdles for him. At the Group A meet, the 110s came first on the schedule.
Before the gun even sounded before the start, Bauserman knew he was in trouble in the 110 hurdles.
"I was lined up too close to the line I was supposed to be behind," Bauserman said. "When they said, 'Set,' and I pushed up, I felt my momentum was starting to go forward and I had to hold it, hold it, hold it. And then he popped the gun and I just rolled right over. I started stumbling and messed up my first four hurdles, jumped off the wrong lead leg. It was all messed up."
Bauserman recovered somewhat after that rare botched start, rallying midway through the race to come up for seventh place. Still, it was hardly the finish he was looking for at states.
Still fuming from that race, Bauserman got more unwelcome news.
"He was a little bit nervous about it," Lytton said. "Then right before the boys 300 hurdles started, we had a lightning delay. We went over and sat in a tent for about 45 minutes. Afterward I'm thinking to myself, 'Is he stretched? Is he warm?' But he ended up having a pretty good race."
That he did. On a day when nothing came easy, Bauserman gutted out a victory by charging to the front in the final straight-away to claim the victory with a winning time of 39.82 seconds.
"It was a close race all the way around," Lytton said. "But on the last hurdle, he was able to pull out a win there."
To Bauserman, there simply was no other option than winning that race.
"It really made me mad, how I stumbled (in the 110s) and really messed that up," Bauserman said. "I was seeded first in that one. So when I came out in the 300s, I was driven, I was pumped, I was like, 'I'm gonna do this.' I just stayed with it the whole race and luckily I came out with the win.
"... It was better to win that one than the 110s, anyway, because I won it last year and I didn't want to not win it this year. I love hurdles, and 300s are my favorite. Most people are like, 'Oh, 300s are awful.'"
Bauserman's win cemented a great day -- overall -- for Central's hurdlers. His teammate and constant training partner, Brandon Ritter, delivered a spectacular effort in the 110 hurdles to take third in 15.50.
"[Ritter] and I have been working all year, just pushing each other, trying to get better," Bauserman said. "He did really good. I did really bad."
Winning the 300 hurdles again more than made up for the disappointment of the 110s for Bauserman.
"I forgot all about the 110s after I won the 300s," Bauserman said.
Lytton expected nothing less than another state championship from Bauserman, who seemed to pick up right where he left off last year in the hurdles despite dismal early-season weather that impacted everyone's training.
"I've noticed a big difference between last year and this year," Lytton said. "He knows more about the hurdles. I was surprised at the beginning of the season how quickly he picked everything up again."
Bauserman plans to keep sharp by attending a track and field camp conducted by the United State Naval Academy staff this summer. He'll be working on both hurdle events, with hopes of pulling off that double state championship next year. Even if that happens, though, Bauserman will always prefer the 300 hurdles.
"I love it. You get that momentum going and just kicking. It's just an adrenaline rush. It's just special. That's my favorite race out there on the track."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>