Virginians Excel at VA Showcase Track
The VA Showcase track meet concluded its High School portion this past weekend, and unlike last year’s meet, which saw groups of competitors and spectators shuffled in and out of the Virginia Beach Sports Center track facility, the bleachers swelled to about two-thirds capacity as the first set of invitational events got underway late on Saturday afternoon.
The buzz throughout the complex was a welcome addition to a meet which has earned the distinction as “the home of National and State records.”
The Showcase, started as the vision of MileStat.com editor and meet founder Nolan Jez, but outgrew its original home, the Liberty University track complex, two years ago, and now draws over 2,000 athletes and just as many fans to the South Hampton Roads oceanfront.
Now in its sixth year, the Showcase has seen 11 national High School records, five U-20 world records, and over 100+ US #1 performances. Three Olympic gold medalists have competed here, and just a year after setting the national girls HS record in the 500 in 2020, Athing Mu of Trenton (NJ) High (and later Texas A&M) became a darling of last year’s Olympic Games with her gold medal performance in the women’s 800-meter run.
One national record was broken on Saturday as Will Sumner of Woodstock HS (GA) broke the 500-meter mark with his time of 1:01.25. In the race, Jayson Ward of L.C. Bird placed second in 1:04.32.
With its reputation as the top national indoor High School meet, coupled with the world-class track at the Sports Center, pre-meet conjectures on the breaking of American high school records focused on three events – the 300, 500, and 1000. On Friday, the 300 finals were run, putting two Virginia athletes squarely in the spotlight – Ward, and Madison Whyte of Heritage (Newport News).
Whyte had the first shot, squaring off against current US leader Ashanti Jackson of Wakefield (NC). But Jackson would not be denied, winning with the second fastest time in American high school history (36.95), while Whyte settled for second in 38.37.
“She surprised me a little bit,” said Whyte, who will compete with three of her Hurricane teammates in Saturday’s 4 x 200 relay.
Tallwood’s Ariel Fletcher placed sixth in 39.29.
Ward also had to settle for the runner-up slot. His time of 33.73 was a second off the American record, and behind victor Justin Braun of Western Central (OH) who won in 33.32.
Charles Wall-Davis of Nansemond River was eighth in 34.96.
The boys’ and girls’ mile run were completed on Friday. Three Virginia girls finished in the top eight, led by Yorktown’s Anna Macon Corcoran (third in 4:53.83). Hanover’s Alli Cryster was fourth in 4:56.26, and Caroline Bauer of Jamestown placed eighth in 5:01.72.
For the boys, the two fastest times were posted by Charlie Ortmans of Potomac School (second - 4:18.13) and Ryan Watson (fourth - 4:18.46). Loudoun Valley’s Graham Mussmon was fifth in 4:19.56, while Loudoun County’s Ethan Stansbury took sixth in 4:20.23.
The 200, a rare indoor event, was also held on Friday. Brianna Selby of Indian River (25.07) placed fifth among the girls, while Leontro Mattison of Salem (Virginia Beach) finished sixth in the boys’ event with a time of 22.36.
The girls’ 4x400 relay was also contested on Friday with the Kellam quartet of Selina Faehnrich (64.28), Jamison Gilmore (59.01), Mia Suero (61.78), and Madison Beale (59.74) placing second in 4:04.81. Freedom’s foursome of Nyela Asterillar-Anderson (64.14), Ruqayyah Byrd (58.71), Kasey Diggs (63.00), and Jada Hatcher (60.28) took third place in 4:06.13.
Salem’s Ryan Banko, Matt Miller, Michael Portale, and Matthew Filliben placed seventh in the distance medley with a clocking of 11:24.08.
Kellam sophomore Alexis McCue won the girls pole vault in 9-6.
The 55-meter dash and hurdle trials ran through a full deck of heats; however, in the end, six Virginians qualified for Saturday’s Finals. In the 55 dashes, the boys were shut out of the final, but there was one competitor whose name is better known for his other job, quarterback of the Freedom High football team.
Davis Bryson, the Region 6B Offensive Player of the Year, won his heat in 6.68, .22 off the qualifying time, but spoke highly of the Virginia Beach oval.
“We won the state 4 x 200 here last year,” said Bryson, who added that his three former relay mates have successfully transitioned to college football, and that he is the lone remaining member of a squad that will compete in the event on Saturday.
Bryson also spoke of the importance of track within Head Football Coach Darryl Overton’s program.
“There are about ten of us out,” said Bryson. “Coach (Overton) encourages us to go out for multiple sports.”
In fact, Overton is also well known for his accomplishments as a Girls’ Basketball Coach.
South County’s Catalina Sanchious (7.14) and Hylton’s Amiya Johnson (7.17) snagged the final two spots for tomorrow’s girls’ 55 final.
Sydney Ellis of Nansemond River garnered the #7 seed in the 55-meter hurdles (8.59), while on the boys’ side, Winston Broiles of Battlefield (2nd – 7.55), Peter Djan of Potomac (7th – 7.66) and Albert Asare from Woodberry Forest (8th – 7.72) earned berths to the final.
A trio of Virginia Preps placed 3-4-5 in the boys’ long jump. Jaden Ferguson (Woodberry Forest, 22-7 ), Krystian Williams of Collegiate (22-6) and Robbie Handelsman (Woodberry Forest, 22-5) earned the trifecta, and William Fleming’s Micah Jones placed seventh in 6.68 m.), with I.C. Norcom’s Montrell Covil eighth (6.55 m.).
Nasir Riley of the Real Deal Track Club was Virginia’s quickest entry in the fastest kid race, placing second as he covered 200 meters in 28.60, behind Ashanti Jackson’s younger brother Bershawn Jr., who won in 26.71.
Clayton Stoil of Langley won the boys’ 1-mile race walk in 7:43.13, probably jettisoned by an involved and somewhat boisterous crowd.
There were seven wins for Virginia athletes in the invitational competitions held on Saturday.
Alaysia Oakes of Heritage-Lynchburg earned two of them, sweeping both girls’ jumps, winning the triple in 40-7.75 (US #5), as well as the long with a leap of 18-11.25.
Aniya Mosley of Ocean Lakes devastated a strong field by six seconds, while taking first in the 1000 with a US #3 2:49.09 time. Teammate Maggie Reed won the 1600 in 5:13.02.
Norview’s Emmani Shaw captured the girls’ high jump in 5-4.
On the boys’ side, Montrell Covil of I. C. Norcom won the boys’ triple jump with a US #13 hop, skip, and jump of 46-2.
And in the mixed 4x400 relay, Nansemond River’s quartet hit the line first in 3:36.60.
However, the success of the Showcase can also be measured by the hundreds, possibly thousands of personal bests set by track athletes from all over the Commonwealth and beyond. For Virginia, the best example may have come in the 3200-meter run.
In the girls’ race, two Virginians obliterated their previous best times and set themselves up as top seeds for the upcoming state meets. Gillian Bushee of Herndon and Caroline Bauer from Jamestown placed 3-4 in the race and nationwide with Bushee’s time of 10:33.06 and Bauer’s 10:34.14 vaulting them to the top of their Class 6 and 4 performance lists.
For the boys, Justice’s Ryan Watson used a strong final 800 to place fourth with a US #4 clocking of 9:09.89, setting himself up to become one of the few state runners in Virginia track history to break nine minutes.
The girls’ 4x200 relay also featured a surprise as the Heritage (Newport News) team of Myzhane Solomon, Sanaa Wooden and Madison Whyte almost ran down the Bullis team while finishing second in 1:39.50. Whyte, who finished second in the girls’ 300 on Friday, halved the gap on her lap, and was just .33 seconds short of the win. Their effort earned a US #2 and VA #1 ranking.
“If it had only been a little bit longer, another 10 meters,” said Whyte.
All the VA Showcase meet results can be found at http://milesplit.live/meets/426603