Best at the finish

Strasburg's Cody Darr won the Group 2A state 200-meter race and led the Rams in two relay events. He broke the school record with a 21.66 in the 200 state final. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG — Cody Darr couldn’t have picked a better time to run his best race.

In the Group 2A State track and field finals, the Strasburg senior blitzed his own school record by running a 21.66 in the 200-meter final and winning a state championship.

“It was a goal that I wanted to try and do, but I didn’t really think really that I would be able to reach it,” Darr said.

Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising considering how quickly Darr reached his goals this season.

Darr, the Northern Virginia Daily’s 2015 Male Track Athlete of the Year, started the year wanting to break the school record in the 200. He accomplished that goal in his first meet of the season, and then went to break his own record four more times.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Darr said of the record. “I went out there to break it just so the next group has another goal to aim for. It’s possible for someone else to take it and make people work harder. It means a lot to know that I have it now, but I’m pretty sure one of the kids on our team has a great chance to break it if he’d work on it.”

Last year was Darr’s first full season of track and he ran in the 400 and finished fifth in the Group 2A state meet.

Darr said he didn’t really like running the 400, and felt the 200 was a much better fit for him.

“[The 200] is shorter than the 400, but it’s a little longer than the 100,” Darr said. “I had that endurance from before and I was able to use my speed a little more.”

“Last year he had that endurance and we put him in the 400, and we realized his natural speed,” Strasburg sprints coach Emily Brandon said. “I knew that I could build on that in order to get him quicker in the 200 and it worked.”

Throughout his senior regular season Darr continued to shine, but once he entered the postseason he was able to step it up another level.

At the Region 2A East meet, Darr entered as the third seed, but only .27 seconds behind the top time by Prince Edward’s Darkeem Gray. Darr finished second in the race to Robert E. Lee’s Tyion Oravitz in an extremely close finish, in which Oravitz beat him by a lean at the end.

“Regional meet was really good to have because it gave me a glimpse of them before states,” Darr said. “Going into the trials I knew exactly what to watch out for.”

Brandon said they worked a lot the week before states on speed and practicing his lean so that it would be more natural for him to do it at the state meet.

“When he realized that the No. 1 guy in the state only beat me by a little lean he kind of got it in his head that I have a chance and I can actually take this home,” Brandon said.

In the 200-meter trials, held the day before the finals, Darr made everyone take notice that he would be one of the top guys to beat. He ran a 22.20, once again breaking the school record, to earn the top seed for the finals.

Right before the finals, Darr said it began to hit him that this was the race he had been waiting for all season.

“I was nervous,” Darr said. “I got up there and it just all kind of hit like ‘this is going to be close. I’ve got a chance. It’s all right here in front of me, take the opportunity’ and push myself to achieve what I could.”

Darr’s 21.66 was .28 seconds ahead of Gray in yet another close finish, and this time Darr had his lean working.

Winning the state title was a dream come true in itself, but shattering his own record was just as impressive for Darr.

“I did surprise myself,” Darr said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to reach down that low in the 21’s. I thought it was going to be a high 21 if anything.”

Not only did Darr win the 200, but he also was on Strasburg’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams. The 4×100 team placed fifth in the state meet, while the 4×400 team finished 10th.

Darr said he actually enjoys running relays even more than individual events.

“I like the aspect of being able to help each other out,” Darr said. “We all push each other and make each other better.”

Darr had a strong two seasons with the Rams track team, and he said he’s really enjoyed being a part of it.

“It’s been amazing to be a part of the track program,” Darr said. “It’s probably one of the best ones around, in my personal opinion. Everybody here, we all have fun in practice. We work hard in practice, and we do everything that we have to do.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com