Handley girls win in meet

By Brad Fauber – sports@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER — Handley’s Verna Hilaire-Lee had quite a day at the 71st annual Handley Invitational track meet on Saturday.

She set school records in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash, contributed to a record-breaking time in the 4×100 meter relay, set a new personal record in the long jump and qualified for the state meet in four events, all while helping lead Handley’s girls squad to a first-place finish.

For her efforts, Hilaire-Lee was awarded the Most Outstanding Female Performer of the event.

“It’s overwhelming to take all of this in,” Hilaire-Lee said, just seconds after hearing her record-setting 200 time of 24.48 seconds. “With the signing [to Virginia Commonwealth University] last week, and now this, I’m just — life is great right now, and I hope it stays like this.”

In addition to winning the 200, Hilaire-Lee also took the top spot in the long jump with a distance of 17 feet, 3 1/2 inches, topping second-place finisher Jasmain Ford (16-03) of Warren County by more than a foot.

But the biggest surprise for Hilaire-Lee came in the 100, where she led the pack with a time of 12.07 seconds. It was just the second time this season that Hilaire-Lee had participated in the event.

“I actually shocked myself in the 100 today,” she said. “I wasn’t too focused on it at all this season; I was more focused on the 200. So I got out there and I just ran my hardest. Hopefully [my time] puts me in a good seed for states in the 100.”

The Handley girls as a team dominated the competition. The Judges finished with 118.5 points, beating second place Warren County (83) by nearly 40 points. Clarke County (third, 80), Sherando (fourth, 75), James Wood (fifth, 73) and Skyline (10th, 6) also participated in the event.

In all, Handley took first place in nine of the girls events, as Britani Myers (800 meter, 2:23.1), Ashden Personius (3200 meter, 11:38.88) and Lisa Meneau (100 hurdles, 15.65; 300 hurdles, 45.58) each topped their respective events. The Judges also won the 4×100 relay (48.58) and 4×800 relay (9:50.24).

“It was an excellent day for the girls,” Judges coach Mike McKiernan said. “They weren’t just winning — they were having excellent performances.”

Sherando ran away with the competition on the boys side, finishing with 120 points, 40 more than second place Freedom. Handley (third, 73), Skyline (fourth, 72), James Wood (fifth, 60.5), Warren County (sixth, 60) and Clarke County (ninth, 32) rounded out the standings.

The Warriors were led by junior Chris Smith and senior Devon Newman, who took home the Most Outstanding Male Performer award.

Smith set a school record en route to winning the high jump with a height of 6-06, and Newman won the triple jump with a distance of 44-07.50. Both helped Sherando win the 4×400 relay with a time of 3:29.56.

“I told [Smith] and [Newman] before we came here, I said, ‘This is the kind of meet where you guys can wreak havoc.’ And they wreaked havoc today,” said Warriors coach Tim Grim. “They both had strong performances all-around. That’s what you need to win big meets: Guys like that.”

Joel McAuliffe (300 hurdles, 43.25) and Travis Ritter (discus, 143-11) also scored first-place finishes for the Warriors.

Other local winners in the girls events were Sherando’s Rachel Moore (400, 1:01.31) and Rachel Dixon (shot put, 31-00.50), and Warren County’s Katy Harriman (high jump, 5-00). James Wood won the 4×400 relay.

In the boys events, winners included Skyline’s Clay Jones (3200, 9:50.41), Handley’s Killian McPartland (110 hurdles, 17.20) and Derek Dowrey (shot put, 49-09.00), and Warren County’s Matt Nicholson (long jump, 21-07.50).

Skyline’s Thomas Madden and Warren County’s Seumas O’Reilly continued their long-standing rivalry in the distance events as they split the 800 and 1,600 meter events.
Madden took the top spot in the 1600 with a time of 4:15.60, edging O’Reilly by two seconds, but O’Reilly returned the favor in the 800 race by beating Madden by the same margin, finishing in 2:01.54.

“I was a little tired from the mile, but I still thought I could run a fast time in the 800, so I pushed it from the start, but then Seumas passed me,” Madden said. “It’s great — it’s a lot of fun racing [O’Reilly].”

“I just wanted to go out and see what everyone would do [during the first lap],” O’Reilly said. “Madden pushed a great first lap — I’m going to thank him for that — and the cards just fell out right.”