Hawks have strong showing in state track and field meet

Skyline senior Jamal Parker competes in the boys long jump finals at the Group 3A track and field championships Saturday in Harrisonburg. Parker earned all-state honors in four events. Brad Fauber/Daily

HARRISONBURG – Skyline brought home plenty of hardware from the Group 3A state track and field meet Saturday afternoon at Harrisonburg High School.

The Hawks produced second-place finishes from senior Ronnie Clifton (boys discus) and freshman Olivia McGill (girls 100-meter dash), while senior Jamal Parker earned all-state honors in four individual events to cap a productive day for Skyline.

The amount of success the Hawks had on Saturday afternoon came as little surprise to coach Steve Burton.

“In all those places we were ranked. … We want to peak at the right time and that’s what we got today,” Burton said.

Of the individuals that Skyline sent to the two-day state meet, Parker was certainly the busiest. The senior competed in the boys long jump, triple jump, 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash – earning all-state finishes in each – and ran a leg of the Hawks’ 4×100 relay.

Skyline freshman Olivia McGill, center, competes in the girls 100-meter dash finals at the Group 3A track and field championships Saturday in Harrisonburg. McGill placed second in the event. Brad Fauber/Daily

“I feel like it was a pretty productive day,” said Parker, who failed to medal in two state events last season. “I know I could’ve done better in the long jump. I know I could’ve done better in the 200. But all in all, I came here last year, didn’t leave with any medals – came here this year and left with everything I did individually. So it was a big improvement.”

Parker’s best individual finish came during the first day of the state meet on Friday evening, when he placed third in the triple jump with a leap of 43 feet, 8½ inches. On Saturday, Parker placed fifth in both the long jump (21-09.00) and the 100 (10.94 seconds) and finished sixth in the 200-meter dash (22.51).

The top eight finishers in each event earned all-state medals.

The senior’s time in the 100 topped his personal best that he set at the Region 3A East meet over a week ago.

“I felt like I could’ve done better in that too,” Parker said of the 100. “With the wind at my back like that, I should’ve because in the prelims I was a lot closer to the people that won than I was at the end.”

Fellow Skyline senior Clifton also had a productive morning in his only event Saturday, as he surprised even himself with a second-place finish in the boys discus. Clifton’s throw of 152 feet, 1 inch was well beyond his previous personal best of 137-08 that he threw at the regional meet.

Clifton was seeded 10th in the discus heading into Saturday’s meet.

“It was good weather and there was a nice breeze going,” Clifton said. “I’ve been training all week, no distractions.

“It was really surprising,” he added, saying that he’s never thrown over 150 feet in practice. “I was hoping just to place top six or whatever but it just felt good today.”

The Hawks also got great production from McGill on Saturday, who sprinted her way to a runner-up finish in the girls 100-meter dash in her first trip to the state meet. The freshman, who missed the regional meet due to food poisoning, finished the race in a personal-best 12.17 seconds, crossing the finish line just behind Latrice Morris (12.14) of Heritage.

“Her enthusiasm now is looking forward to next year, what I can do different to make sure it wasn’t second place the next one. We’re excited,” Burton said.

“For next year there’s going to be nothing that’s going to be a surprise for her. She’s been to the big meets, seen the top competition and knows she’s right there with them.”

Skyline wasn’t the only Front Royal school to garner all-state recognition this past weekend. Warren County claimed two top-eight finishes as juniors Quay Caison (boys shot put) and Diamond Maldonado (girls long jump) each took home medals.

Caison improved two spots from last year’s trip to the state meet with his sixth-place effort in the shot put (48-08.00) on Friday evening, while Maldonado took eighth-place in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 7¾ inches. Maldonado was ranked 21st heading into the 3A meet.

Central’s Kila Watson just missed all-state medaling in the girls discus with her ninth-place throw of 110 feet. Falcons junior Lexi Keller and Warren County’s Scarlet Riehl tied for 14th in the girls high jump (4-08).

Skyline senior Luke Cline – who ran the final leg of the Hawks’ state medaling 4×800 relay team, alongside Tanner Steed, Demetry Arnold and Christian Madden, that placed seventh (8:22.29) on Friday – was 11th in the boys 800 (2:03.79), while Central’s Harold Wakeman was 13th (44-06.75) in the boys shot put.

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