Darr wins state title in 200 to lead Rams

Strasburg's Cody Darr poses after winning the Group 2A state title 200-meter run Saturday at Radford University. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily


RADFORD — Cody Darr wanted to show that his top time in the trial heats were no fluke. On Saturday, in the 200 finals the Strasburg senior did that and then some.

Darr broke his own school record for the second-straight day and won the state title in the 200-meter run at the Group 2A state track and field meet at Radford University.

“It was amazing” Darr said of how it felt crossing the finish line first. “I was excited. I’m happy about it.

“This is a great feeling.”

Strasburg's Rachel Tischler, second from left, runs in the 1,600-meter run Saturday at the Group 2A state meet at Radford University. Tischler finished third in the event, and also placed second in the 3,200. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

Darr won the race in a time of 21.66, just ahead of Prince Edward’s Darkeem Gray (21.94).

Darr entered the two-day meet as the third seed, and lost a close race last week in regionals. On Friday he posted the top time of the trials, breaking his school-record for the third time this season.

He said that gave him an extra boost of confidence heading into Saturday’s finals.

“It made me feel really prepared for today,” Darr said. “I knew I was going to be able to come out here and be able to hold my own against them.

“To be able to come out in trials and bump my seeding up to first and being able to live up to it — it feels good to be here.”

Stonewall Jackson's Hayley Gibson, center, crosses the finish line in the 800-meter run Saturday at Radford University. Gibson finished fifth in the event. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

Darr used a strong finish to hold off Gray and win his first state title.

In his last high school meet Darr was able to go out on top and have the school record.

“It’s good to have the school record, but the whole reason for it is to push it up a little higher for the next people. To see who can come out and break it,” Darr said.

Darr’s performance helped Strasburg finish tied for seventh in the boys meet with 24 points.

Strasburg placed ninth in the girls meet with 31 points.

Strasburg's Brooklyn Amrich nears the finish line in the 400-meter run Saturday at Radford University. Amrich placed fifth in the event. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

Senior Rachel Tischler had a lot to do with those points as she placed second in the 3,200 (11:33.73) and third in the 1,600 (5:33.33).

In the 3,200, Tischler was able to stay even with Maggie Walker’s Khloe Pointer (11:27.88) almost the entire race. Pointer won the cross country state title last fall.

“I feel honored to be real close to her in times knowing how different we were in cross country, and she’s a great person,” Tischler said. “She really helped me kind of pace myself.”

Tischler said she was very happy to go out with top-three finishes in her senior season.

In the 1,600, her final race, Tischler entered the final lap in fifth place, but made a strong move to finish third.

Strasburg's Josh Runion, left, and teammate Hunter Riley pose after the Group 2A discus finals Saturday at Radford University. Riley placed fifth and Runion eighth in the event. Tommy Keeler Jr./Daily

“I was like ‘wow, here it is the last lap of my high school career. Just give it my all,'” Tischler said. “I feel really confident in how it turned out.”

Brooklyn Amrich placed fifth in the 400-meter run (1:01.55). The junior ran in the first of two heats, and had little trouble winning her heat. She said she was hoping to get her time under 60 seconds, but she was still pleased with her race.

“I started off a little quick,” Amrich said. “I split the race into two halves. So I wanted to run a 30 and then another 30 to get a 60. [Strasburg sprints coach Emily Brandon] said I ran the first half pretty fast, because I ran a 28 and then the second part I ran a 32, I think. I was close. I slowed down a little bit at the beginning of the 100, but then I picked it back up.”

The top eight medal and place in the state meet. Stonewall Jackson’s Hayley Gibson was the lone General to medal.

Gibson finished fifth in the 800 (2:24.70), just being edged out by James River’s Anne Grumbine (2:23.99) and George Mason’s Blaise Sevier (2:24.63) for third and fourth.

It was a PR for Gibson and the junior said she was very happy with how she ran.

“I felt good. I came out just staying relaxed, and I was really excited,” Gibson said. “I did way better than I was ranked. I was ranked eighth.

“…To compete at this level is really an honor.”

Stonewall Jackson’s Angela Misquith finished ninth in the 300 hurdles (50.66), and Derrick Smith was 12th in the 400-meter run (51.57) for the Generals.

In the boys meet, Strasburg’s 4×100 relay team of Darr, Papoose Steed, Cody Price and Colton Funk, placed fifth (44.55). Also, a fourth-and fifth-place individual finish helped give Strasburg an extra boost.

Strasburg sophomore Elijah Waters finished fourth in the 110 hurdles (15.64). He barely made it through qualifying on Friday, finishing eighth.

Waters said he didn’t think there was any way he had made it into the final after his qualifying race Friday.

“Coach was just like well ‘let’s just go look, you might have got eighth,” waters said of the qualifying race. “I was like ‘coach, it was a good season for 110’s but its done.’ I looked over and saw the little q next to my name and knew I made it. …I was like dang. I was so ecstatic.”

Waters set a new PR on Saturday in the 110 hurdles.

He said he was very happy with his season.

“God’s blessed me a lot this year, and I’m really thankful for what I’ve done and what the team’s done and what my coaches have done.”

Waters wasn’t the only sophomore exceeding their seeding on Saturday. Strasburg sophomore Hunter Riley finished fifth in the discus. Riley threw a 135-09 in the final throw of trials, which bested his PR by over five feet.

“I thought I did good. …It was a good day,” Riley said. “I was really nervous at first, since I’m a sophomore competing against juniors and seniors. …I just had to get over it.”

Riley’s teammate Josh Runion placed eighth in the event as well. Riley entered the meet seeded 14th, and Runion 12th.

Strasburg track coach Jeff Rudolph said they try to emphasize to the kids to not worry about pre-race rankings.

“We preach to them, it doesn’t matter where you line up on the charts,” Rudolph said. “We just come here to compete and that’s what we get in their heads and focus on every week.

“…We’re excited with how we did today and pleased. It was an awesome day.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or