By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Justin Bauserman is well aware of the challenge he faces as he pursues a third-straight state title in track and field this season.
The Central senior said he is constantly looking online to check out the times of some of his top competitors in the 300 hurdles. Bauserman won the Group A state title in the 300 hurdles the last two years, but with the reclassification he will now be competing in Class 3A.
"There's a lot of good kids in this class," Bauserman said on Monday afternoon. "I'm going to have my work cut out for me. It definitely motivates me and makes me want to practice more and push harder. I think it would be pretty freaking cool to be a three-time state champion.
"That's my goal for this year."
Last week was the first time Bauserman ran in the 300 hurdles, and he has already qualified for states, which will be held on June 6 and 7 at Harrisonburg High School.
Bauserman won in the 300 and 110 hurdles in two different meets last week, and also placed second in the long jump in the Ram Country Invitational on Saturday. His achievements earned him The Northern Virginia Daily's Male Athlete of the Week for the week of March 31-April 6.
Bauserman has participated in the 110 and 300 hurdles and the 4x400 relay team for the last three years, but this year he has added the long jump.
In Saturday's meet Bauserman placed second in the long jump with a leap of 19-05.
"We were pleasantly surprised with his jumping," Central coach Rick Lytton said. "I've been very happy with him, because we were behind schedule because of the cold weather. He's good enough that, that didn't bother him."
Bauserman said he enjoys doing the long jump and trying to earn even more points for the Falcons.
However, there's no question that hurdles is Bauserman's strongest event. Bauserman said he struggled with the event when he was a freshman, but now he wouldn't want to do any other event.
He said the key is making it over that first hurdle.
"I have to get over the first one and make sure my steps are right," Bauserman said. "Once you get over the first hurdle all the rest just fall in line. So you have to work over getting over the first hurdle as fast as you can, and your form has to be perfect, and just focus on getting over that one hurdle repeatedly."
Bauserman won the 300 hurdles on Saturday with a time of 41.14. He said his goal is just to keep improving his time and keep getting better in the event for the rest of the season.
In the 110 hurdles, Bauserman won Saturday's meet with a time of 16.25, but he said he knows he can do much better than that.
"Nothing was right in the 110," Bauserman said. "I have my steps down, it's just the speed to get to the first hurdle and the speed in between the hurdles. Over the hurdles I can get over quick, but I need to work on getting faster in between those hurdles."
Bauserman also ran the last leg of the 4x4 relay for the Falcons on Saturday and helped them to a second-place finish with a time of 3:42.69.
The Falcons edged out James Wood to take first place in the 17-team meet, and Bauserman feels good about the team this season.
"Performing at a big meet like that and winning it, with 17 teams, I feel like we're going to do really good in all the meets up to like regionals," Bauserman said. "We were one point shy from regionals last year, so I think that's a goal that our team is going for -- is to win that."
Individually, Bauserman has his sights set on another state title in the hurdles. Knowing that this is his last season makes him want it even more.
"I definitely want to do my best, and leave my mark here on Central," Bauserman said. "Hopefully get something like my jersey retired or something -- leave my mark here. Other kids can come through and say 'oh, he was a three-time state champion'. Motivate them to do well. That's definitely an awesome thing."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd