By Tommy Keeler Jr.
RADFORD -- Justin Bauserman wasn't going to let anything keep him from defending his 300-meter hurdles title in Saturday's Group A track meet. Not a disappointing performance in the 110 hurdles. Not a 30-minute lightning delay. And certainly not a strong challenge from a rival.
The Central junior was determined to overcome anything in his way and he did as he captured his second consecutive 300 hurdles state title.
"I came into this race and I was like, 'I'm going to push it,'" Bauserman said. "'I'm going to go all out. I got to get this one.' I did, and I thank the Lord for that."
The win in the 300 hurdles was anything but easy for Bauserman, and it came right after a 30-minute delay for lightning. In the race, he was trailing as they entered the final straight stretch, but was able to pull even with his top competitors. Then at the final hurdle he made one last surge, which helped him defend his title in a time of 39.82.
"[East Rockingham's John Wright] kept stutter stepping," Bauserman said. "He stopped right before the last hurdle and that's when I jumped over and said, 'Yes.'"
Bauserman said he stumbled out of the blocks in the 110 hurdles and never completely recovered, finishing seventh in a time of 15.85. However, his teammate senior Brandon Ritter had a great day in the 110 hurdles, placing third in a time of 15.50.
"[Bauserman's] been pushing me all season," Ritter said. "We came early this morning. Me and Justin warmed up together like always. I was just feeling really good -- had a good breakfast. Had a lot of orange juice.
"It feels real good."
"[Ritter] ran very well," Central coach Rick Lytton said. "That was certainly his best race of this year, and maybe his best race of his career."
Another athlete to finish his career in style was Strasburg's Anthony Wallis. The senior placed third in the 1,600 with a time of 4:34.07. Then he followed that up with a fifth-place finish in the 3,200 in a time of 10:11.58.
"I was just running the race and I didn't want to have any regrets," Wallis said. "My coach was really enthusiastic, very supportive. He was probably one of the reasons I was able to do so good today. he kept me positive, kept me in the mindset. I just went out there and ran."
In the 3,200, Wallis was in ninth place as he entered his final lap, but then used a strong kick at the end to finish fifth.
"I was just trying to stick up there to get top eight, and I went around this corner and coach told me to go," Wallis said. "He was yelling at me, 'Go, go.' So I just went and tried to see how many people I could get, and it worked out a little better than I thought."
One of the runners Wallis passed at the end was his teammate Mark Colson, who finished seventh in 10:15.16.
Colson got off to a strong start, and even though the senior tried at the end, he was able to hold on to place in his final event.
"I held on and got points for the team. That's all that matters," Colson said. "It hurt at the end, but I finished with a PR. I finished my season the way I wanted to, and it feels good."
For Wallis, the state meet was extra special because the last two years he was unable to finish the 3,200.
"I was thinking senior year I've got to do this. I've got to stick to it -- so I did," Wallis said. "It feels great. I'm just so happy that I get to finish my high school career strong, and go on and start a college career."
Central junior Josh Gum had an up-and-down day in the discus and shot put. Gum placed fifth in the shot put with a throw of 47-10.50. he was seeded 10th coming into the event.
"First four throws were around my PR so I was thinking about that, so I just gave it all I had," Gum said. "My fifth throw I think was about 47-10 and my last throw was a 48-9, which would have bettered my PR by about a foot, but I couldn't get it to stay in.
"It was a good day. I wish I could have done a little better in discus. It was just one of those days."
Gum struggled in the discus, and didn't qualify for the finals. However, his teammate, junior Travis Cooper was able to place sixth in the event.
Cooper was fourth in the discus last year, but said he had been struggling this season and found the right time to find his form again.
Cooper threw a 142-02 to finish sixth.
"I thought I could come in here and sneak in and place when nobody was expecting it. I've been practicing real hard," Cooper said. "I didn't want to be a one-hit wonder and place one year and not the next."
Strasburg's Troy Gordon placed eighth in both the 100 (11.22) and the 200 (22.97).
Stonewall Jackson's Andrew Roy finished seventh in the 800 (2:04.04).
Radford won the boys meet with 67 points, followed by Thomas Walker with 42 points. Central finished sixth with 25 points, while Strasburg was tied for 15th with 14 points, and Stonewall Jackson tied for 41st with two points.
Bauserman was happy to come away with another state title, but after the race he couldn't help but think about next year.
"It feels good," Bauserman said. "I gotta come out next year and get a three-peat. Then I'll be really happy."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org