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Two of Region III's premier track programs were on display Wednesday. And, as expected, Staunton River and Heritage slugged it out like a couple of heavyweights.
Throw fast-rising Liberty into the mix, and you had a heckuva track meet, Brownie.
When all was said and done, the Staunton River men prevailed, scoring 50 points to Heritage's 36.5. Liberty was third, with 28.5, while William Campbell brought up the rear, with 17.
On the ladies side, Heritage amassed 55 points, just ahead of River's 44.5. The Liberty lasses matched their guy counterparts, scoring 28.5. William Campbell scored three points.
"I am sure that Heritage was not at full strength, and neither were we," said River Head Coach Joe Curcio. "I am always pleased with a win: however, the most important thing to me is that we perform up to our ability, and that there is evidence that the time we are putting in is paying off in terms of improved performance."
The meet featured a pair of double winners from local schools: Liberty's Kennedy Flynn and Craig Danner and Staunton River's Taylor Jones and Lillian Garrecht.
The Flyin'' Flynn, Liberty's distance ace, took first place in the 1600 meters (5:52) and the 1000 meters (3:29).
In both races, Flynn put great amounts of space between herself and the rest of the field.
Danner showed his versatility, taking wins in the 1000 meters (2:45) and the high jump (5' 4").
Danner also helped propel the Minutemen to wins in two relay races. In the 4 X 800 event, he joined with Zach Carter, Winston Davis and Justin Haupt to post a winning time of 8:59.
In the 4X4, that quartet traded Davis for Chase Key. They had just enough gas in the tank to top Staunton River. The Eagles sent Malik Claytor, Logan Merrill, Kyle Jones and Colton Parker into that fray. The Minutemen prevailed, clocking in at 4:00.14, a mere 0.60 seconds ahead of the Eagle contingent.
Jones, too, showed she is multi-skilled. The Golden Eagle won the 300 meters (46.94 seconds) and the high jump (4'10").
Garrecht picked up wins in the long jump (16' 1") and the pole vault. In that latter event, "Leapin' Lilly" went 9'6", which punches her ticket to States.
Speaking of impressive pole vault performances, Staunton River's Kyle Jones went 11'6" to nab first on the men's side.
Liberty's Autumn Foster took the top prize in the 3200 meters, clocking in at 13:58.
River's Colton Parker was the top dog in the 500 meters. The senior speedster crossed the line at 1:13, giving him two seconds to spare ahead of the rest of the field.
River's 4 X 200 crew shaved a full ten seconds off its previous best time. The team, consisting of Marcus Brown, Logan Merrill, David Thomas and Malik Claytor, logged a time of 1:42, four seconds ahead of Liberty's Matt Sampson, Christian Bower, Mason Wolk and Key.
Finally, River continued its impressive skein in the weights. Sam Goode won the shot put, tossing the iron 37' 8." Teammate Akash Zala was a mere four inches behind his teammate in nabbing second.
"Our expectations are high so (there were no) real surprises (at this meet)," noted Curcio.
Elite at LU
Local athletes headed to the Elite Invitationals Meet at Liberty University this past weekend.
The athletes soon found out that the term "Elite" is no misrepresentation. Eyebrow-raising performances were turned in by a number of first-rate track and field aces from places such as North Carolina's Mecklenberg, Raleigh and Durham.
A handful of Bedford County athletes acquitted themselves well at LU.
Leading the parade was Erin Saunders. The sophomore speedster took second place in the 3200, with a time of 11:27. Saunders' time punched her ticket to the State meet. It also broke up a potential 1-2-3 Blacksburg party.
While Bonnie Angermeier won the event (11:16), Saunders finished ahead of Bruin third-place finisher Jenn Fleming (11:34.52) and Emily Beatty (11:34.76).
Jefferson Forest's Alyssa Shupe and Liberty's Craig Danner each nabbed a fourth-place finish.
Shupe garnered hers in the 1000 meter run. In that event, the sophomore cruised home in 3:08, less than half a second behind third-place finisher Emily Williams, of Sullivan Central. The winner, Hidden Valley's Carolyn Bethel, turned in a monster performance of 2:52.
Danner nabbed fourth in the 500. His state-qualifying time of 1:07 was less than two seconds off the winning pace.
JF's Shupe also picked up a sixth place in the 1600 meters, running it in 5:24. Teammate Abby May took seventh in the 1000, clocking in at 3:18.
Taylor Jones and Lillian Garrecht were the top performers for Staunton River, and in the same event, at that.
In the high jump, Jones placed fourth. Her mark of 4'10" was a mere inch from State qualifying. Garrecht went 4'8", which put her in seventh place at LU.