Four local athletes earn individual titles at C28 track championships

Skyline freshman Aaliyah Chunn attempts to clear the bar set at 4 feet, 10 inches during the girls high jump at the Conference 28 Track and Field Championships on Monday afternoon in Culpeper. Chunn placed second in the event and set a new school record by clearing the bar at 5 feet. Brad Fauber/Daily

CULPEPER – Landon Holben got a little bit of redemption on Monday afternoon at the Conference 28 Track and Field Championships at Culpeper County High School.

A year after suffering a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the rest of the postseason, the Skyline High School senior returned this year to win the boys 400-meter run for his first career conference title.

Holben was one of four local athletes – joining teammate Tucker Forney (boys discus) and Warren County’s Bailey Grant (boys 800) and Jacqui Ris (girls 3,200) – to win an individual first-place medal on Monday. Warren County’s girls 4×100 relay team of Taryn Post, Autumn Deustch-Richardson, Sierra Sharp and Diamond Maldonado also won a conference championship.

“It was really something that I was like, OK, I at least need to get that conference win out of the way this year because I had never gotten there in the past,” Holben said. “It definitely means a lot because a lot of these invitationals – that we go to at least – we’re going up against 4A, 5A, 6A teams, so I get a lot of seconds, thirds and stuff. It’s pretty rare that I get to win one.”

Holben, who entered the conference meet as the top seed in the 400, won the race with a time of 51.49 seconds. He beat the rest of the field by a little over half a second.

Warren County's Diamond Maldonado, center, sprints to overtake a runner from Manassas Park during the final leg of the girls 4x100 relay in the Conference 28 Track and Field Championships on Monday afternoon in Culpeper. The Wildcats won the event. Brad Fauber/Daily

“Looking at the seed times and stuff of everyone behind me, I knew as long as I was in the 51s I was pretty set to get that win,” Holben said.

Grant, a sophomore for Warren County, had his own amends to make this spring after missing out on a regional qualification by one spot in the 800 in 2016. On Monday, Grant led from start to finish in the event, crossing the line in a winning time of 2:04.02.

“Coming into the race I was seeded second, so I just expected to follow the person in first and then try and get past them,” Grant said, “but when I went out the first 100 and no one was there I was like OK, I’ll just take it into my own hands and see what I can do.

“When you’re out in front you kind of wanna go faster to make sure they don’t catch up to you, so you just kind of run your own race and focus because there’s no one in front of you.”

Grant’s teammate Ris entered a similar situation of her own in the girls 3,200-meter, as she came into the conference meet as the second seed but emerged victorious in the field of 13 runners. Ris completed the 2-mile run in 12:13.22, over 12 seconds better than the runner-up.

Skyline's Landon Holben races to the finish line during the boys 400-meter run at the Conference 28 Track and Field Championships on Monday afternoon in Culpeper. Holben won the race. Brad Fauber/Daily

“It’s a big improvement. Last year I ran this and I think I placed sixth. My time wasn’t the greatest, so it was nice coming back and being able to succeed,” Ris said.

“I knew prior to the race that a lot of the runners in it had either run the mile or some other event beforehand, and I hadn’t and I’d been resting all day. I thought maybe I could use that to my advantage a little bit.”

Fortney made good on his top seed in the boys discus by winning conference gold in the event with a throw of 137 feet, 7 inches, which topped the rest of the field by just over 11 ½ feet.

“I was pretty confident coming in. Nice day, I was just hoping I would throw well,” said Fortney, who also was third in the shot put.

“Definitely in the discus being the top seed was definitely motivating. It helped me relax, so that helped a lot.”

Warren County sophomore Bailey Grant leads the pack across the finish line during the boys 800-meter run at the Conference 28 Track and Field Championships on Monday afternoon in Culpeper. Brad Fauber/Daily

In the lone relay victory of the day for the two local schools, Warren County’s girls 4×100 relay team topped the field with a winning time of 52.98 seconds to edge out Manassas Park (53.31).

“We were third our first two handoffs and we pulled up in second and then I just flew through that chick,” Maldonado, who ran the final leg for the Wildcats, said with a laugh.

“As soon as I got the baton I was like OK, she’s not gonna win.”

Maldonado, who had a busy day for the Wildcats, also placed second in the girls 100-meter dash (13.51) and fifth in the long jump to help power Warren County’s girls (80 points) to fourth place among the eight teams who competed on Monday, the best finish among local schools.

Warren County’s boys placed fifth with 57 points, while Skyline’s boys (44.5) and girls (63.5) each finished seventh.

Skyline junior Tucker Fortney competes in the boys discus at the Conference 28 Track and Field Championships on Monday in Culpeper. Fortney won the event. Brad Fauber/Daily

Culpeper County swept the boys and girls team championships. The top six individuals and top three relay teams in each event automatically qualified for the Region 3A East championships to be held on May 25 at Lakeland High.

Both Skyline and Warren County shined in the field events, during which Hawks freshman Aaliyah Chunn re-broke her own school record in the girls high jump by clearing the bar at five feet to earn second place.

“She’s a freshman, which is great. It’s only pushing her to go further,” Skyline head coach Steve Burton said. “I think if she had gone by ones instead of twos (inches) she may have even cleared 5-1 today, but she jumped from 5 to 5-2. And she barely scraped on 5-2, so I feel like 5-1 is definitely in her wheelhouse.”

Wildcats junior Cor’shauna Cunningham remained steady in the throws and placed second in the girls shot put (38-02.75) and discus (112-02). Skyline’s Nadiya Wells placed third in the shot, while teammate Nikea Whitmore was third in the discus. The Hawks’ Jordan Price was third (2:05.90) in the boys 800 and Sabrina Wilkins was third (12:34.19) in the girls 3,200.

Warren County freshman D.J. Staton placed second in the boys 3,200 (10:36.54), R.J. Keeney was third in the boys high jump (5-06) and discus (120 feet) and Post was third in the girls 300 hurdles (51.48).

The Wildcats’ girls 4×800 relay team (Rebecca Ranney, Nichole Rittgers, Kyra Treutlin, and Carlene Viers) placed second (11:13.54), and Warren County’s boys 4×800 relay team (Grant, Staton, Nate Brown and Jaydon Halter) placed third (8:52.53).

“It sounds like overall we did pretty well,” said Wildcats head coach Joseph Owens, who spent a large chunk of Monday’s meet at a nearby hospital after one of his athletes suffered a dislocated shoulder on a post-race fall. “We had some surprises. R.J. said he qualified in the high jump, that’s something that he just started so that’s pretty cool.

“I’m still picking up all the information here and there. I’m hoping we got some people in that it’s their first time, like Evan (Fox) in the hurdles and R.J. in the jumps. … And Cor’shauna did well, which we always expect. It’s just nice to have a solid group go through and continue the season on.”

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