Rams’ Waters has record day at regional track meet

Elijah Waters Rich Cooley/Daily

ELKTON – It’d be easy to hand Strasburg junior Elijah Waters all of the credit during a track and field season in which he has continuously posted winning times in the hurdle events this spring. But Waters said during Wednesday’s Region 2A East Championships at East Rockingham High School that his success this season has all come from his mentor.

Glen Proctor, the Rams’ former longtime head track coach, rejoined the coaching staff as an assistant this spring, during which time he has helped train Strasburg’s hurdlers – Waters, an all-state performer in the 300-meter hurdles last year, especially.

“He spent so much work making sure the end of the season is where I’m my best,” Waters said.

Waters was his best on a hot, sun-drenched afternoon in Elkton – in fact, he was the best the school has ever seen. The junior streaked to regional championships in both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300 hurdles, breaking school records in each event along the way.

“I’ve had a great season thanks to Coach Proctor. I would not be where I’m out right now in this season if it was not for that man,” Waters said. “I’m so thankful he came out of retirement for me.”

Waters, the top seed in the 110 hurdles entering the afternoon’s preliminary race, wasn’t too concerned about not performing up to par in his initial run of the day. A good race, he knew, would put him into the finals for his shot at his first regional championship.

What did worry him was the fully automatic time (F.A.T.) recorded by Maggie Walker’s Robert Hicks.

“I knew the other guy had run a 15.11 F.A.T. time, so the only thing I could think of is I’ve gotta run faster than that,” said Waters, who ran a 15.27 – his fastest F.A.T. time – in the prelims.

The duo ran a hotly contested race from the gun to the finish line, with Waters just edging out Hicks with a winning time of 15.07 seconds, breaking the Strasburg record of 15.12 set by Brian Strejcek in 2005.

“I was beside him the entire time, except for the start. I was a little faster on the start,” Waters said. “And then he was next to me the entire race. We got to the finish line and I was like, ‘He’s right beside me.’ So when I got to the very end I probably leaned more than I’ve ever leaned into a finish. I like contorted my body.”

Riding that momentum, Waters handily won the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.79 seconds. That broke Darren Alsberry’s record of 40.94 set back in the late 1980s.

Waters was the only local athlete to win an individual regional championship on Wednesday afternoon, but Central’s quartet of Carston Shockey, Wyatt Robinson, Kyle Clanton and Coy Jimenez did post a winning time of 3:30.88 in the boys 4×400 relay, the final event of the day.

Central’s boys placed fourth as a team with 42 points, edging out Strasburg (39) and just falling short to second-place Brunswick (44) and Greensville County (43). Maggie Walker (113) easily won the boys title.

The Falcons’ girls (30 points) placed seventh, while Strasburg was 13th (15) as Maggie Walker also claimed the girls championship with 149 points. The top six individuals and top six relays automatically qualified for next weekend’s Group 2A state meet at Radford.

Both Central and Strasburg had solid performances in the field events. Freshman Tycara Scott highlighted the Falcons’ afternoon with a second-place performance in the girls shot put. Scott, who has stepped up after her older sister, Tamra, went down with an injury several weeks ago, threw a 35-07.75, a new personal best.

“(In the first flight) I didn’t do too well and I got like really mad at myself,” Scott said. “So my dad and Coach (Mike) Yew talked to me and said that I needed to have a lot of confidence in myself. When I went to the finals my first throw I broke out a 35-08. That was my best one and I was really surprised at it, but I think I just needed to be more confident in myself and as I realize that I’ve been increasing every week.”

Strasburg senior Rachel Funkhouser also turned in a second-place effort in the throws, as her toss of 115-04 was good for a runner-up finish in the girls discus. Funkhouser also was fourth in the shot put, a result she said she didn’t quite expect.

“In the discus I started off with kind of a rough throw but I started climbing and progressing and getting better,” she said.

“I like where I am right now. I wanna keep progressing. If I can get consistent throws into the 120s, that’s where I’d like to be heading into the state meet.”

Strasburg senior Josh Runion, who had already qualified for the state meet in the discus, placed third in the event Wednesday with a throw of 132-08, while teammate Ryan Day locked up a spot in the state meet with a third-place finish in the shot put (45-08.75).

“I came in, took my first stance and I hit 40 (feet) and was like, ‘Today’s gonna be a good day,'” said Day, who beat his personal best by a foot and a half. “My glides were just on fire, I guess.”

Central’s Kila Watson placed third in the discus (111-05) and added a state qualification in the shot put with a fifth-place throw of 34-10.50.

“I surprised myself in the shot because relatively I was hitting around 33s, and then I went and actually punched instead of doing what I usually do … and it actually went a lot further than when I do the full thing,” Watson said.

Falcons sophomore Brooke Ryman, already a state qualifier in the girls long jump and triple jump, placed third in the long jump Wednesday with a leap of 16-00.75.

“When I heard I got into the finals I was a little shocked because my knees have been bothering me the last couple days at practice, and my shins and everything, and these girls just looked like really tough competition,” Ryman said. “It was just amazing.

“I’m excited (for the state meet). Definitely wanna work on my triple, it needs a little fixing.”

Central’s boys 4×800 relay team of Robinson, A.J. Crider, Mason Lucy-Speidel and Sawyer Lucy-Speidel raced to a second place finish (8:39.56), while Strasburg’s quartet of Dylan Campbell, Aaron Walker, Matt Chimento and Ryan Davis was fourth (8:47.86).

The Falcons’ girls 4×800 relay team of Madison Pence, Megan Freiwald, Lexi Keller and Madison Nichols placed fourth (10:53.58).

Falcons sophomore Coy Jimenez was fifth in both the boys 100-meter dash (11.41) and 400-meter sprint (51.73). Central senior Donovan Armstrong was fifth in the boys 110 hurdles (15.69), while classmate Phillip Dysart was fifth in the 300 hurdles (42.37). Sawyer Lucy-Speidel was sixth in the boys 3,200-meter run (10:24.79).

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