By Jeff Nations
WINCHESTER -- Sherando track and field coach Tom Grim won't take too much credit for the rapid ascension of freshman Davina Lane.
"God looks at some people and says, 'Boom, you're fast,'" Grim said. "She's fast. And she can hurdle."
That much was apparent during Wednesday's Conference 21 track and field championship meet at Millbrook High School, as Lane wowed the crowd with impressive victories in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, plus the 200-meter dash for good measure.
Lane stood out among Sherando's athletes, but it was the Warriors' boys squad that had the better collective day with a second-place performance. Sherando tallied 114 points in the boys meet, trailing only winner Loudoun County. Woodgrove won the girls meet with 120.5 points, followed by Loudoun County (113). Sherando was fourth with 107.
Many of Sherando's points came from Lane, who also chipped in with a seventh-place finish in the high jump. Her main contribution came in the hurdles, as she turned in blistering times in the 100 hurdles (15.58 seconds) and 300 hurdles (45.82). Her 200 wasn't too shabby, either -- Lane clocked a winning time of 26.51.
Not bad, considering that Lane doesn't particularly like either the 300 hurdles or the 200 due to the turns.
"It just slows me down a bit," Lane said. "I'm not as good or efficient on turns as I am on the straight-aways."
Grim said Lane arrived at Sherando ready to compete, needing just a few tweaks to her form. That's not to say there's not room for improvement, though.
"We've had to work on her starts," Grim said. "She's still a long ways off on her starts. And also her first three hurdles are a work in progress."
Sherando's boys got a boost early in the meet when senior Branden Litten came up with his best race ever in the 110 hurdles, clocking a personal-best winning time of 15.51 seconds and beating a longtime rival for the first time in the process. Afterward, Litten credited fellow senior Owen Bales from James Wood as the athlete he's pushed himself to catch. It finally happened on Wednesday.
"That man has given me competition all year," Litten said of Bales. "That's my motivation, just to beat him."
Grim expected a strong day from Litten, but not a half-second drop in his personal-best time.
"It was huge," Grim said. "And that kind of started setting the tone for the rest of the day."
Sherando had one more Conference 28 champion, as junior Josh Ojo won the 100 meters with a blazing-fast time of 11.25 seconds. Ojo also picked up a fourth-place finish in the 200 (23.41).
"That's the fastest time I've run all year," Ojo said of his 100. "I had a pretty good week at practice and I got a lot of good nutrition in my body. I felt really good about this race today."
The Warriors didn't produce any other winners, but had plenty to celebrate nonetheless thanks to a slew of personal bests that helped a sizable contingent of Sherando athletes advance to next week's Region 4A North meet at Liberty University in Lynchburg.
Sherando had a strong showing in the throws, as Trent McCarty and Donovan Walton finished second and third in the discus, and Ben Avery took fourth in the shot put. On the girls side, Alaina Combs was second in the discus and fourth in the shot, and younger sister Allison took sixth in the discus. The top six individuals and top three relays automatically advanced to next week's regional competition.
The Warriors were similarly solid in the distance races. In the girls competition, Katie Rogers was fifth in both the 800 and 1,600, and Andi Crosby took sixth in the 1,600. Thomas Shea's third-place effort in the 3,200 highlighted a solid day for the boys distance runners. Others advancing to regionals included Andrew Mathew (third, 400), Trevor Whiteside (fourth, 800), Daniel Snapp (fifth, 800), Ryan Hindle (fifth, 1,600) and Thomas Powars (fifth, 3,200). Shea also finished sixth in the 1,600.
Sherando's boys relays were rock-solid, as well, with each finishing second to move on to next week. The Warriors' quartet of Landon Ridge, Isaiah Williams, Ojo and Litten clocked a season-best time of 44.96.
"We've done this multiple times, and with us being really close friends it's helped us to click," Williams said.
Ridge said a lineup shuffle helped the group shave off a serious chunk of time.
"That would be a dream, to make it to states," Ridge said. "We dropped like a second today. We switched up the legs and it really helped out."
Sherando also got two of three girls relays through to regionals with a second-place finish in the 400 relay and a third in the 3,200 relay.
Angelique Matthews highlighted the Warriors' jumping efforts with a second-place finish in the long jump and a fifth in the triple jump. Matthews also finished second to Lane in the 100 hurdles.
"Angelique is a heckuva little athlete," Grim said. "You know, pound for pound she's as tough as they come."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>