By Jim Laise - email@example.com
STRASBURG -- Two-time defending state champion Justin Bauserman and Central teammate Joshua Gum starred Saturday as the Falcons' boys team captured the 17-team Ram Country Track & Field Invitational under bright skies and breezy conditions at Glenn Proctor Field.
Bauserman, who has defended his Group A 300 meter hurdles once, claimed that title here with a regional-qualifying time of 41.14 seconds and also championed the 110-meter hurdles (16.25), while finishing second in the long jump (19-05.00) - an event he has just taken up. Bauserman also ran the anchor leg on the Falcons' second-place finishing 4x400 meter relay (3:42.69). The latter, worth eight points for the Woodstock school, proved to be the difference in the boys' division.
Central won the field for the second time last week (it pulled a victory in its own invitational on April 2) behind Bauserman, and Gum, who posted seconds in the discus and shot put. The Falcons' 60 points, edged James Wood (56), along with Millbrook (54.5), fourth-place Washington (W.Va.) 53, Musselman (W.Va.), 49, and Woodgrove (46).
Strasburg (35) finished seventh, Skyline was 10th (20) and Warren County (four) ended in 15th place. The Rams were aided by Matthew Cluster, who won the high jump with a leap of 5-08. He, too, finished runner-up in the triple jump (32-10).
The girls' crown at the second-annual event went to Washington (W.Va.), which finished with 74 points. Strasburg, behind strong performances by throwers Tyler Showalter (third in the discus), Katie Dofermire (second in the shot put) and McKenna Orndorff (third in the shot), finished ninth (20), while Warren County came in 11th (16 points) and Central had five points.
The boys' teams from Central and James Wood were vying for the meet championship before the afternoon's final race, the 4x400 relay. Woodgrove (3:38.78) took the performance. Central was fostered by Carston Shockey, Jonathan Feaster, Daniel Molina and Bauserman.
Molina took the baton on the third leg with his team in third, but pushed past one runner for second. This set up clean-up hitter Bauserman to win the relay. Races were set up in heats with the best times declaring the order of finish.
Bauserman championed the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 16:25 and finished second in the long jump (19-05).
"I was sort of mad at myself for the start [of the 110]. I kind of started and stopped, but I still wanted to finish strong. As for the long jump, that's the first time I have tried that, so I was pleased with my finish there," Bauserman said.
"He's depending right now on his steps and his form to get him where he's going since he has not hurdled since last spring. We had to get that back. We're still working on his speed to where it's good and natural," said Central Coach Rick Lytton.
"As for my goals, I want to defend my 300 meters state championship, and also qualify in the 110 and the long jump as soon as I can," Bauserman said
Lytton said that in his experience at the Woodstock school, no individual has ever won three consecutive state championships in track.
"There may have been some cross-country runners-maybe something like that -- but no individuals have done what Justin could do," said Lytton.
"I know what I gotta get done. I'm doing my research. I'm preparing myself. I saw one kid [Tony Ford of Cumberland at 41:18] had put up an impressive time, and I'll get excited about that. So that's what I know I have to beat. Really it's just mental. It's all in the head," said Bauserman.
Strasburg's Cody Darr put up a time of 53:16 to capture the boys' 400 meters. He also ran a leg on the Ram's fourth-place finishing 4x100 meter relay. Others in the quartet were Adam Gordon, Michael Conley and Colton Funk.
Central also has a team goal. The defending Bull Run District champions will move into a more competitive Conference 28 this spring; subsequently leading to a still-more-difficult regional. Still, Bauserman said the Falcons would like to win a regional.
A year ago, the team lost its regional by one point to Dan River.
"I think we're all looking to the regional this year. We know we have the talent. Josh and Travis [Cooper] in the throws. We have some guys coming on in the hurdles. And Daniel in the 200. We ought to put up some points," said Bauserman.
Molina, a senior, said he finally was comfortable after interrupting his junior season in football with a torn meniscus in his knee. The joint was cleaned out in surgery and Molina said he was "feeling excellent, great ... Nothing holding me back," he said.
"The regional is probably going to be tougher because of the reclassification to group 3A, but it's something to shoot for," Lytton said.
Other strong performances by the locals included Warren County's Rachel Oden, who claimed fourth place in the 1,600 meter run and ran a leg on the third-place 4x800 meter relay with Fiona Sayers, Karli Shanks and Jacklyn Rankin. Warren's Scarlet Riehl finished fourth in the high jump.
Central's Lexi Keller claimed fourth place in the 400 meter dash ahead of fifth-place McKayla Jackson, of Skyline.
In the boys division, Skyline's Jamal Parker ran to a third place finish in the 100 meter dash. He also ran a leg on the fifth-place finishing 4x100 relay with TrayQuan Diamond, Josh Smeltzer and Jeremy Gingrich. Parker claimed a sixth in the long jump.
Skyline's 4x800 relay team (Demetry Arnold, Luke Cline, Matt Myers and Tanner Steed) finished in second. Cline also took a fifth in the 800 meter run.