Hawks’ Clifton produces at meet

By Jeff Nations

FRONT ROYAL — Shayne Clifton brought lots of energy to the Conference 28 track and field meet; always a good idea, but an absolute must on Monday.

Clifton, a Skyline High School senior, spent the afternoon zipping from the jump pit to the throwing area atop a hill at Warren County High School, then down to the high jump area and over to the track as she bounced from event to event for the Hawks.

It wasn’t hard to see why Skyline asked so much of Clifton, either — she swept the jumps by winning the high jump, long jump and triple jump, posted top-four finishes in both the shot put and discus, and ran a leg on the Hawks’ second-place 1,600-meter relay.

Loudoun Valley had its own version of Clifton in three-time winner Alexis Randall-Kelly (firsts in 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash), and a whole lot more besides as the Viking rolled up 175 points to win the girls competition. John Champe was second with 91, followed by Warren County (81.5), Skyline (66.5), Central (47) and William Monroe (25).

The Vikings made it a clean sweep by winning the boys meet with 134 points to top Central (95), John Champe (84), Skyline (80), William Monroe (49) and Warren County (44).

Clifton scored personal bests in both the long jump (16 feet, 2.5 inches) and triple jump (33-03.50). She also won the high jump (4-8), took third in the shot put (30-01.50) and fourth in the discus (85-00), plus that relay leg. That guarantees Clifton another busy day at next week’s Region 3A East meet at Culpeper High School.

“I’m mostly focused on the triple jump,” Clifton said. “It’s my favorite event and I’m trying to get better.”

Warren County got a strong effort from its 3,200 relay of Karley Shanks, Jacklyn Rankin, Claire Morrow and Rachel Oden as that quartet combined to win in 10:39.87.

The Wildcats also got a victory from Taryn Post in the 100 hurdles (18.37), plus a second in the 300 hurdles (53.59).

“She’s just a freshman and she’s going to be dangerous,” Wildcats coach Joseph Owens said. “I was very, very impressed with her today.”

The Wildcats also got a solid day from thrower Crystal Utter, who took second in both the discus and shot put. Others from Warren County advancing to next week’s regional meet by placing in the top six were Caitlynn Poniter in the high jump (third), Jordyn Beckner in the triple jump (third), Rachel Oden in the 800 (fourth), Claire Morrow in the 1,600 (sixth) and Fiona Sayers in the 3,200 (sixth). The Wildcats also qualified in the 400 relay with a third-place finish.

Skyline also advanced Brandi Clark in the 100 hurdles (second), 300 hurdles (fifth) and triple jump (fourth), Kelsey Holben in the high jump (fifth) and Alexis Sullivan in the long jump (sixth).

For Central, regional qualifiers were Lexi Keller in the high jump (second) and 400 (third), Bethany Neri in the 800 (third) and 1,600 (fifth), Emily Walker in the 100 hurdles (third) and 300 hurdles (sixth), Casey Rubenstein in the discus (third), Cianne Fields in the long jump (fifth) and Tamra Scott in the shot put (fifth). The Falcons’ 3,200 relay also advanced by placing third.

Central’s Justin Bauserman had a typically strong day in the boys meet, winning both the 110 hurdles (15.72) and 300 hurdles (40.79) by comfortable margins. Bauserman also took fifth in the long jump, but his day didn’t really get interesting until the final event when he anchored the Falcons’ 1,600 relay. Given a short lead by teammate Daniel Molina when he took the baton handoff, Bauserman briefly lost the lead to Loudoun Valley’s Levi Parker before recovering to cap a winning effort of 3:37.77. Carston Shockey and Jonathon Feaster also ran in that relay.

“He came after me heading into that turn,” Bauserman said. “I wasn’t really expecting him to put a move on me when he did. I knew I had to stay with him. If I didn’t, I’d probably lose him.”

Central also got a win from Josh Gum in the shot put (46-04.50). The Falcons’ Travis Cooper won the discus (145-07) and Gum was second.

Others advancing to regionals for Central were Max Shaffer in the 300 hurdles (second) and 110 hurdles (third), Molina in the 200 (fourth) and 100 (sixth), Zach Bokanyi in the triple jump (third), Tristan Lucy-Speidel in the 3,200 (fifth), A.J. Crider in the high jump (sixth) and Feaster in the 400 (sixth).

“The thing I’m most proud of today is we had numerous boys and girls who will not be moving on to next week, but had personal bests,” Central coach Rick Lytton said.

Skyline’s Jamal Parker was a double winner, taking first in the triple jump (39-06.50) and 100 (11.26), plus second in the 200, long jump and high jump. The 100 was a personal-best for Parker, who also ran a leg on the Hawks’ runner-up 400 relay.

“My starts this season have been really awful,” Parker said. “That’s what’s been holding me back. I think I got a pretty good one today.”

Others advancing for the Hawks were Landon Holben in the 400 (third), Tanner Steed in the 800 (third), Luke Cline in the 1,600 (fourth) and 800 (fifth) and Ronnie Clifton in the discus (sixth), and David Ricks in the 1,600 (sixth). The Hawks also advanced in the 3,200 relay with a second-place finish.

“Instead of taking a car, we’ll be taking a bus to regionals,” Skyline coach Steve Burton said. “That’s always a good thing.”

Moving on for Warren County to next Wednesday’s regional at Culpeper were Wesley Childress in the 400 (second), Quay Caison in the shot put (second), Nick Myers in the 3,200 (fourth), C.J. Sharp in the long jump (fourth), Zach Workman in the 1,600 (fifth), Alex Atwood in the 110 hurdles (fifth), Caleb Lambert in the high jump (fifth) and triple jump (fifth) and Michael Mallery in the 800 (sixth).

Myers, Mallery, Workman and Childress also combined to win the 3,200 relay in 8:35.33.