Track win state title
FAIRFAX –In one of the most irregular indoor seasons for Prince William and Stafford County residents in recent history, the Group AAA state track meet at George Mason University turned out to be quite normal.
In 20 of the 30 events on Saturday, the favorite won. Of the remaining 10 events, seven No. 2 seeds were victorious. That includes local performers and top seeds Tiffany Evans of Gar-Field, Joe Robinson of Potomac and Jerome Miller of Colonial Forge, all of whom won state championships in their respective events.
Evans heaved a season-best 45-8 to take the shot put, Robinson ran his second fastest 55-meter dash time [6.32 seconds] and Miller matched his season-best with a victorious high jump of 6 feet, 8 inches.
Evans, a senior, finally wasn’t a bridesmaid at the state meet. Competing behind two-time state champion and indoor state record holder Lindsay Neuberger the last two seasons, the two-time Northwest Region indoor champion wasn’t able to savor the ultimate prize in high school track until this year.
She was unbeaten in six invitationals and was the overwhelming favorite coming into the meet. Yet the win still hadn’t sunk into Evans’ head an hour after the event.
“It’s probably not gonna come [the feeling] until I see the medal,” Evans said. “It will come when I go on the Internet and see my name in there.”
Robinson, who ran the fastest high school time in the nation this winter [6.26], nudged second-seeded Isaac Madison of Bayside by 0.04 seconds. Robinson and Potomac coach Lisa Hermann were happy with the win given the lack of practice for the Panthers, who like the other six Prince William County Group AAA schools, missed 13 days of school so far this winter.
“We’ve been kept inside and he [Robinson] hasn’t been able to go full out with a pair of spikes on for the last three weeks,” Hermann said. “But that’s gonna affect all the [Prince William]
Buoyed on by brother Jason and a supportive crowd, Jerome Miller just missed leaping a personal-best 6-10. After Jerome fouled twice at that height, Jason –who finished in fourth place at 6-4 — and the crowd started clapping in unison for the Eagles junior.
However, it wasn’t enough as Jerome’s trail leg just nudged the bar as he was coming down from what appeared to be a clean jump. Jerome took it all in stride, though, saying he was looking forward to the outdoor season.
Both Miller and Reynold Smith agreed with Hermann that it was tough not having ample practice time this winter. Still Smith, the defending triple jump state champion, overcame a poor opening series of jumps to finish second overall in the event with a 45-9 3/4.
“I just have to work that much harder [in the outdoor season],” said Smith, who also finished third in the long jump. “Hopefully, we’ll get better weather this spring so I can practice. Right now, I am just going on talent.”
Because of the poor weather, which dumped in excess of 20 inches of snow in the last two weeks, neither Northern Region nor Northwest Region teams fared particularly well overall. Seven of the top 10 girls teams, including state champion Menchville, were from the Eastern Region. The boys’ points were more spread out between all the regions, but Eastern Region champion Deep Creek defended its state title and Great Bridge of Chesapeake was second.
One of the lone exceptions was Colonial Forge, which got 20 points from Jerome and Jason Miller and a fourth-place finish in the 1,000-meter run from senior Sean Leyh to finish in a third-place tie  with Thomas Dale. The Colonial Forge’s 3,200 relay boys’ team was sixth, as well.
“Our goal was to come in the top three and we had some kids that stepped up,” Colonial Forge coach Tori Helmer said. “But there were some things that we did that I am disappointed in. But I’ll take what we got.”
Forest Park’s Beth Fahey finished second in the 3,200-meter run and Hylton senior Jemissa Hess was fourth in the 1,000-meter run and seventh in the 1,600-meter run. Gar-Field senior Afua Amponsah was third in the 55-meter dash and fourth in the 300-meter dash after tripping over a hurdle in the 55-meter hurdle preliminaries and failing to make the finals. Amponsah had the state’s best 55 hurdles time [7.99] heading into Saturday.
Other all-state local girls include Forest Park freshman Stefanie Slekis, eighth in the 3,200 and Stephanie Myers of Osbourn, eighth in the 55 hurdles. In the boys’ events, Gar-Field had several all-state performers. Darren Garrigan was third in the 55, Jarmel Latney was eighth in the high jump, Rasheed McClaude was fourth in the shot put and Derek Liggins was sixth in the long jump. The Indians’ 800-meter relay team was fifth and its 1,600-meter relay team was seventh.
The Forest Park’s boys and girls’ 3,200-meter relay teams finished eighth and sixth, respectively.