By Jeff Nations
CULPEPER -- Skyline High School senior Shayne Clifton acknowledges that she might have been better off concentrating on fewer events this track and field season.
Her finishes might have been a bit higher, but Clifton wouldn't have had nearly as much fun or helped her team remotely as much as she did this season.
Clifton was seemingly everywhere for the Hawks at last week's Conference 28 meet at Warren County High School, as she competed in all three jumps, both throws and even found time to run a leg on the Hawks' 1,600-meter relay.
"That's just strong character, to be able to run from one end of the field to the other to get then up the hill to those throws in, then come back and still power through a 400," Burton said.
Clifton didn't just compete -- she excelled at the conference meet. Won all three jump events, setting personal bests in the long jump (16 feet, 2.5 inches) and the triple jump (33-03.50), and tied her personal best in the high jump (4-08) to earn The Northern Virginia Daily's Female Athlete of the Week honor for May 19-25.
"She had a great day," Burton said. "She PRed in her jumps and placed in the top four in all five field events. That's a heckuva accomplishment. Then she turns around and runs the third leg on the 4X400 to get them into second place."
Clifton did indeed, adding a third place finish in the shot put (30-01.50) and a fourth in the discus (85-00), all before closing out that long day with her relay leg.
"I had a pretty good day," Clifton admitted during Wednesday's Region 3A East meet at Culpeper High School. "I'm just sad it's over."
Clifton was right on the edge of qualifying for next week's state competition on Wednesday. She was eighth in the long jump, tied for ninth in the high jump, took 10th in the triple jump and was 11th in the discus. Clifton also helped the Hawks' 1,600 relay finish ninth. Only the top six individuals and relays from the regional competition automatically qualified for states, and Clifton didn't meet any of the daunting state qualifying standards during the year.
"In this first year with the washout from all of the new divisions, it was hard to set that," Burton said. "You see some of the times and distances that are winning the conference meets weren't even close to the regional qualifying. Next year it will balance itself out because they'll take this year's results and readjust."
Clifton won't be around for next year. Her plans include joining the United States National Guard before heading to Virginia Tech (she's already been accepted) the following year.
"I'll still play sports, just probably club level," Clifton said.
Burton will miss Clifton's unflappable presence and constant production.
"She's been a consistent worker for her three years on the track team," Burton said.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>