Stonewall wins 1A state title in boys 4×400 relay
ELKTON – Prior to the Region 1A East Track and Field Championships on May 26, the members of Stonewall Jackson High School’s boys 4×400 relay team decided to switch up the order and place their two fastest runners at the top of the rotation in an effort to build a quick lead. It worked for the Generals then, and it worked again on Saturday.
The Stonewall quartet of seniors Mark Keith, Tyler Patton and Kaelan Sorrells and junior Wade Banks teamed up to seal the postseason sweep of the 4×400 relay on Saturday afternoon at the Virginia High School League Group 1A State Track and Field Championships at East Rockingham High School, as the Generals won a state title in the event.
The win came on the heels of Stonewall’s 4×400 championships in the Conference 44 and regional meets over the last few weeks.
“It means everything,” Patton said, fighting to catch his breath shortly after crossing the finish line on the fourth and final lap around the track. “I wanted nothing more than to win this state championship in the four-by-four. Most of us have been doing it for three years. My sophomore year I didn’t go, last year we got third. It means a lot to win it.”
Sorrells and Keith, who had spent most of the year running on the back end of the Generals’ relay team, instead led off the race and combined to build an early lead.
Stonewall nearly lost that lead, however, when a Cumberland runner closed the gap on Banks midway through the third lap. Banks, realizing he had a runner right on his heels, found another gear and maintained the lead before passing off the baton to Patton, who closed out the race for a winning time of 3:33.32 to just edge out Cumberland (3:33.86) by half a second. It was the Generals’ fastest time this season.
“Oh, he scared me,” Banks said of the Cumberland runner who nearly took the advantage from Stonewall in lap three. “I didn’t expect him to be that close. In regionals he didn’t get that close. And then I had a lot left once I got there. I might have ran that first half a little bit too slow, but it feels good to pull it out.”
The gold medal powered a fifth-place team finish for the Stonewall boys (33 points), and Banks and Sorrells each added a pair of all-state (top eight) performances in their individual events on Saturday.
Banks finished in the top three in both of his hurdle events, taking second in the 110-meter high hurdles (15.95 seconds) and third in the 300 hurdles (42.97).
“My start wasn’t really fast (in the 110s) but it never really has been. I was just real low to the hurdles today. Probably the lowest I’ve ever been without hitting them. And it felt good on the rebound afterward,” said Banks, who was sixth in the 110 hurdles last season.
“It feels good. It’s like all the work I’ve put in is actually worth it. Especially coming in (seeded eighth entering Friday’s trials), it was kind of a disappointment but finishing today … really put a pin in wondering if everything I’ve been doing is paying off.”
Sorrells, competing in his final state track meet, placed third in the boys 400 (51.58) and sixth in the 200 (23.36). He raced in one of the outside lanes in the 400 and maintained a lead until the rest of the field caught up over the final 100 meters.
“I planned mostly to come out and give it my all, do everything I could,” Sorrells said. “It came down to the last stretch and I didn’t have enough to pull it all the way through. But I had enough to finish top three.”
Stonewall Jackson’s girls didn’t claim any gold over the 1A meet’s two days, but the Generals did get four all-state individual performances and a fifth-place finish in the girls 4×400 relay.
Senior Angela Misquith led the Stonewall girls with a third-place performance in the 300 hurdles. Her time of 52.48 was nearly 2.5 seconds faster than her seed time, as she entered the race as the 11th seed.
“I haven’t really had a good season this year but I came here, this is my last race, so I had a very bright attitude and a good mindset, so I pushed myself,” Misquith said.
Misquith, due to her seeding, ran in the slower of the two heats on Saturday and easily beat the other four athletes in her heat.
“I wish I was in the faster heat because then I would’ve had people push me even more,” she said. “But yeah, it was a lot different because I don’t really like being all the way out there. I like for people to be around me to push me. And I think if I was in the second heat I think I actually would’ve done better. But I’m pleased with what I did.”
Stonewall senior Brandy Webb placed fourth in the girls 1,600-meter run, finishing her final race in 5:50.64.
“I actually kind of expected to do worse than I did today because of the heat,” said Webb, who was the 1A state runner-up in the mile last year, “but when I got up to the line I was like this is my last race, I don’t care if it kills me, I’m gonna try to get close to what I got last year. And I’m happy with it.”
Destiny Neff, a junior, was sixth in the girls 200 (27.92), and sophomore Autumn Smith placed eighth in the girls 400 (1:04.16).
Misquith, Smith and Webb teamed up with sophomore Carley Bennett to finish the girls 4×400 relay in a time of 4:28.54, three seconds faster than their seed time.
Patrick Henry (101 points) won the boys 1A team title, while Auburn (100) won the girls.