Generals’ Blank has field day at Conference 44 meet
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson senior Isaac Blank didn’t want to take for granted his top overall seeds in both the boys triple jump and high jump heading into Monday’s Conference 44 Track and Field Championships held on the Generals’ home track. It was that attitude that allowed him to make good on those expectations.
Blank won both of those events, and added fourth-place finishes in the long jump and 300-meter hurdles, as the senior jumped his way to a pair of conference titles while earning the Conference 44 Field Athlete of the Year award.
“I don’t expect first place. I still have to work hard and there’s a lot of great athletes out here,” said Blank. “I had great competition in the high jump and in the triple jump. I’m just happy I made it.”
Blank, who totaled 24 points in his three field events and 28 points overall, was one of three Stonewall boys to score at least 20 points, alongside sophomore Wade Banks (22 points) and fellow senior Michael Knauff (20.5). The result was a third-place finish for the Generals (90 points), who trailed champion Riverheads (128) and Altavista (109).
Stonewall’s girls also took third place as a team, garnering 83 total points. Riverheads (161) made it a clean sweep with a team title for the girls while edging out second-place William Campbell (143).
“All things considered I think the kids did well. A couple of them stepped up,” Generals coach Dick Krol said. “We had a lot of negatives in respect we had the prom over the weekend, which didn’t help. We had one our best players get hurt over the weekend, that didn’t help. … But all things considered I thought we did really well.”
Blank got the Generals started in the right direction Monday with a championship showing in the boys triple jump before claiming the title in the high jump by clearing the bar at 6 feet.
Blank needed his full compliment of attempts in the triple jump to set his new personal-record of 39 feet, 1 inch, as his winning leap came on one of his final jumps.
“I had terrible form in the beginning, I’m not gonna lie. It was really bad,” Blank said. “But that 39-foot jump was really good. I just listened to my coach and did what I was supposed to do.”
Blank was the only two-time champ for Stonewall on Monday but he was one of three Generals to win an individual conference title, as Banks took first place in the boys 110-meter high hurdles and junior Angela Misquith won the girls 300 hurdles.
Banks, who entered as the top seed in both hurdle events, won the 110 hurdles with a state-qualifying time of 16.67 seconds and was second to Riverheads’ Hunter Allen in the 300 hurdles (45.55 seconds). Banks also was fourth in the high jump.
“Actually I thought I’d do a lot better in the 300 hurdles, because I wanted to get first place like the 110s or run a state time,” Banks said. “I don’t really know what happened. I guess I just got tired. But the 110s felt really good. … A few minutes later when they posted the results I found out I ran a state-qualifying time, so I was pretty stoked.”
Misquith, the favorite in the girls 300 hurdles, won the event by streaking to a new personal-record of 50.41 seconds, shaving over two-tenths of a second off her state-qualifying seed time of 50.66.
“The 300 hurdles have definitely been my forte when it comes to track and it feels really great to be a conference champion,” Misquith said. “I’ve been working really hard in the 300 hurdles since my freshman year, when I first got into it, and I love it.”
Misquith also ran legs of Stonewall’s winning 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams. The Generals’ 4×800 quartet of Brandy Webb, Haley Bennett, Misquith and Hayley Gibson finished with a time of 11:23.23.
In the 4×400 – the final event of the day – Carley Bennett surged from second place to make a pass with about 20 meters remaining to cap the Generals’ day with a winning time of 4:28.18.
“I love our relays and I’m very proud of all the girls,” said Misquith, who ran the second leg of a 4×4 group that also included Webb and Autumn Smith.
Knauff didn’t win any individual championships on Monday, but he did run the opening leg of Stonewall’s title-winning 4×400 relay team (3:43.47), which competed without injured junior Kaelan Sorrells.
“We just wanted to do it for Kaelan there, who couldn’t run today. We just wanted to push for him and we got the job done,” said Knauff of a group that included Mark Keith, Tyler Patton and Josh Misquith, who drew praise from Krol for his role in filling in for Sorrells.
The relay win capped a busy day for Knauff, who was second in the boys long jump (19-00.25), fourth in both the triple jump and 400-meter dash and fifth in the 100-meter dash with a personal-best fully automatic time (FAT) of 11.67 seconds.
“Long day but I prefer it that way, honestly. Keeps me loose,” Knauff said.
On the girls side, Stonewall sophomore Destiny Neff turned in a pair of second-place finishes in the 100 (13.34 seconds) and 200 (27.23), the latter of which was a state-qualifying time. Neff also was sixth in the triple jump.
Gibson placed second in the girls 400 (1:03.18) but pulled herself out of the 800-meter just before finishing the first lap. Webb was second in the girls 1,600 (6:02.00).
Smith was third in the girls 400 and fourth in both the long jump and triple jump. Carley Bennett placed fourth in the 400 and sixth in the 200 while Haley Bennett was sixth in the 800.
“The girls did extremely well, so we’re happy,” Krol said.
“Neff is a natural. She also jumps but that’s not natural for her, so she’s up and down there. The four-by-four relay team has been good all year. They’ve done extremely well. They were very good. And getting second, third and fourth in the 400 is really impressive, and the times were good. So we have no complaints.”
The Generals boys 4×800 relay team of Reilly Hughes, Keith, Garrick Knauff and Nick Pabon placed third with a time of 9:36.67 to beat the state-qualifying time by one-tenth of a second. Josh Misquith was fifth in the 400, Keith was sixth in the boys long jump and Pabon was sixth in the boys 1,600.
The top six individuals in each event qualified for the Region 1A East meet, which will be held next Thursday at Sussex Central High School.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org