Rams boys defend Bull Run District title

Strasburg's Tyrik Steed hands off the baton to Cody Price on this leg of the 4 x 100-meter relay during the Bull Run District Track and Field Championships on Wednesday in Strasburg. Strasburg's boys team won the event. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Cody Darr provided an emphatic ending for Strasburg’s boys track and field team at Wednesday’s Bull Run District Championships held on the Rams’ home track.

Darr, running the anchor leg of the Rams’ 4×400-meter relay, blazed through the final 400 meters of the race while passing nearly the entire field in one lap around the track to give Strasburg the victory. Darr’s effort capped a very successful night for the Rams’ boys, who won the district championship for the second straight season.

The Rams finished with 86 points in the boys championship, well ahead of second-place Clarke County (69) and Central (67), which finished third in the nine-team field.

“One of our goals this year was kind of not to lose at home,” Darr said. “So far we’ve kept, relays-wise, winning at home. We’re not doing much losing at home.”

Strasburg’s boys 4×400 relay team, which also included Nic Campbell, Cody Price and Austin Schlentner, fell behind in the seven-team field during the first three legs of the race. When Darr received the baton for the final lap, he needed to pass four runners to keep the Rams’ home winning streak intact.

Warren County's Diamond Maldonado cruises ahead of Strasburg's Grace Davis, left, and Central's Beth Wakeman, right, to win the girls 100-meter dash during the Bull Run District Track Meet on Wednesday at Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

Darr made his first pass on the first turn and saved his biggest push for the final stretch, as he streaked past three opponents before crossing the finish line in a time of 3:40.75, just ahead of second-place Clarke County (3:41.43).

“A big part of it is I always get more pumped up when the third leg is coming in, coming in quick. It always gets me a little more pumped up,” Darr said. “With us being behind by a little bit it just kind of set in that I’m not big on losing, so I play what I can, get up to the front and try to keep it.”

In addition to his heroics in the meet’s final event, Darr also won the long jump with a personal-best leap of 20 feet, 1.75 inches and the 200-meter dash (23.17) and ran the opening leg of Strasburg’s winning 4×100 relay (45.30).

And Darr wasn’t the only Ram to thrive in the boys events on Wednesday evening, as sophomore Elijah Waters won both the 110 high hurdles (16.07) and 300 hurdles (43.43).

“[Winning the team title] was really important to me because last year I didn’t really contribute points-wise,” Waters said. “This year I came out and I got 20 points for the team, so it made me feel pretty good.

Warren County's Quay Caison prepares to deliver the shot put during the Bull Run District Track and Field Championships held Wednesday in Strasburg. Caison won the event. Rich Cooley/Daily

“In the 110s I felt really fast going over them,” he added. “My start was a little slow, but I made it up for it in between. In the 300s I did really well the first 200 meters and slowed down a little bit in the 100, but I was already so far ahead at the point it didn’t matter.”

On the girls side, George Mason won the team championship with 97 points, comfortably ahead of second place Clarke County (76). Central (59) placed fourth in the girls standings, while Strasburg (58) was fifth and Warren County (46) sixth.

Central junior Lexi Keller enjoyed great success on Wednesday, as she finished as the second-best girls individual scorer among the nine schools. Keller won the high jump (4-10) and ran the second leg of the Falcons’ winning 4×800 relay (10:42.14), a win she said impressed her because the Falcons were seeded third out of the four teams in that event.

But Keller’s biggest surprise came in the 800, which she won with a personal-best time of 2:27.85. Keller edged out George Mason’s Blaise Sevier (2:29.43) with a good kick over the final 200 meters of the race that allowed her to gain control of first place with 50 meters to go.

“I was really happy with my 800. I wasn’t expecting to place that well in it and I wasn’t expecting my time to be that good,” Keller said.

Central's Bethany Neri tries to catch George Mason's Logan Funk in the 1,600-meter run during the Bull Run District Track Meet on Wednesday at Strasburg. Funk edged out Neri to win the race and Neri finished second. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I think starting out as a sprinter freshman year kind of helps me at the end of my races, even though I’m doing long distance now. I like having a little extra to push at the end when I need it.”

Central sophomore Kila Watson turned in the Falcons’ only other first-place finish, as she won the girls shot put with a throw of 32 feet, a personal best.

The Falcons didn’t have any individual champions on the boys side but they did get second-place efforts from Tristan Lucy-Speidel in the 1,600 and its 4×800 relay team.

Strasburg’s girls team took home two individual district titles, as Rachel Funkhouser won the discus (110-02) and Rachel Tischler dominated the 3,200 (personal-best 11:28.02).

Sophomore Diamond Maldonado claimed both of Warren County’s individual championship medals in the girls events, as she won the long jump and the 100-meter dash (13.55).

Strasburg's Elijah Waters, center, cruises to win the boys 110-meter hurdles during the Bull Run District Track and Field Championships on Wednesday at Strasburg High School. Rich Cooley/Daily

Maldonado won the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 6 inches, a full foot longer than her previous best mark. Her winning jump would have qualified her for the Group 3A state meet had Wednesday’s championships met the criteria as a state qualifying meet.

“I just jumped. I ran through my pain,” Maldonado said. “I had bad shin splints and I just ran through it, said I wanted to PR and I PR’d.

“I’m pretty confident in my 100,” she added. “I’ve been doing it since middle school and in high school you get competition and you just work harder during practice.”

Warren County’s boys placed eighth out of the nine teams Wednesday but the Wildcats did earn two individual championships. Junior Quay Caison set a new personal best with his winning throw of 48 feet, 3 inches in the shot put, while senior Michael Mallery won the 400 in a time of 52.99 seconds.

“We just had a lot of good individuals stepping up today that we’re really excited about,” Wildcats coach Joseph Owens said. “We know that the next few years, as our team matures – we have a real young team – so as that happens we’ll keep getting better and better. We try not to take this too much to heart when we don’t have the numbers to place as high as we’d like to, but we get excited where we can.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

Strasburg's Brooklyn Amrich soars in the long jump during the Bull Run District Track and Field Championships at Strasburg High School on Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central's Brooke Ryman soars in the long jump during the Bull Run District Track and Field Championships at Strasburg High School on Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily Rich Cooley/Daily

Central's Sawyer Lucy-Speidel, left, and Strasburg's Ryan Davis lean on each other after finishing the boys 1,600-meter race during the Bull Run District Track Meet on Wednesday. Lucy-Speidel finished third and Davis fourth in the event. Rich Cooley/Daily