Gar-Field, Forest Park girls share title
FORK UNION — With just a couple of events remaining in Friday’s Northwest Region Indoor Track and Field meet, Forest Park coach Dave Davis shook his head and said “too many mistakes.”
Davis turned out to be the one mistaken.
Thanks to a gaffe by the Gar-Field girls’ 1,600-meter relay team in the day’s final event, the Forest Park girls tied the Indians for the team title. Gar-Field was leading 100 to 90 in points heading into the 1,600 relay.
But the Indians’ last handoff from Raiesha Warren to Tonnetta Harris was ruled out of the legal exchange zone. That ruling disqualified the Indians’ second-place performance while the Bruins’ foursome of Ecaterina Burton, Karen Richardson, Portia Davenport and Christina Lindsay won the event to tie Gar-Field at 100 points.
Gar-Field coach Jeff Custer filed a protest that his runner was in the correct position and that one of the Bruin runners wore braids in her hair, which he said was against meet policy. Custer was denied on both fronts and the Bruins were able to celebrate their first region title in school history. The co-region title was the 12th in the past 14 years for Gar-Field.
“She [Harris] was standing on the triangle, took one step and took the baton,” Custer said. “That’s in the zone.”
Davis was just happy that his team pulled through on a day that he felt like could have been better in several events.
“I thought when he [Custer’s team] went 1-2 in the 500 [meter dash], that he had put the dagger in our back,” Davis said. “The misfortunate thing that happened over in the 4×400, I don’t know, that’s the call that they made. I am not disappointed with my kids. My thing has always been that winning is a byproduct of what you do and I think we’ve been doing the right thing for a couple of years. And the kids are started to be pretty decent.”
The Bruins were favored in the distance events and they didn’t disappoint. Beth Fahey, Stefanie Slekis and Jessica Koch went 1-3-4 in the 3,200-meter run. However, one of the key performances of the day came from Burton. The Bruins junior won the 1,000-meter run against Hylton’s all-state senior Jemissa Hess.
Hess narrowly defeated Burton at the Cardinal District meet on Feb 3. This time, Burton turned the tables, running a 3:09.46 to win by less than a half-second over Hess, who was second.
“I knew I had a slight advantage because I knew they [Hess and Stonewall Jackson junior Kristin Milot] were coming back from the mile, and I had about three hours of rest,” Burton said. “So I just took it cool. This season has changed a lot for me, I am a lot more strategic and I really like breaking late. So as soon as I saw Kristin Milot go, I was like ‘I’m gonna chase her down, and I am gonna beat her.'”
The Indians were led by Annandale transfer Afua Amponsah. The senior won the 55-meter hurdles and knocked off former Gar-Field star Kharya Brown to win both the 55-meter dash and 300-meter dash. Brown, who was seeded first in the 300, finished second in both events.
Gar-Field was also led by senior Tiffany Evans, who defended her region title in the shot put.
Thanks to points from several individuals, the Indian boys were able to defend their region title. Gar-Field edged Colonial Forge 106 to 92, getting points in every event but the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs while winning the 1,600 and 800-meter relays.
The Indians’ Rasheed McClaude won the shot put with a toss of 51 feet, four inches while teammate Flordell Kissee took second in the event. Darren Garrigan added second-place performances in the 55 and the long jump.
The Eagles were led by Sean Leyh and twin brothers Jerome and Jason Miller. Leyh won the 1,000 and 1,600 while Jerome and Jason went 1-2 in the high jump. Jerome’s jump of 6-9 in the finals broke a meet record of 6-8 set by Phil McKay of E.C. Glass in 1999.
Other local individual boys winners include: Reynold Smith of Forest Park in the triple jump and long jump, Bryce Iverson of Forest Park in the 3,200, Daniel Simpkins of Woodbridge in the 500 and Joe Robinson of Potomac in the 55.
In the girls, Hess won the 1,600, Harris the 500, Chelsea Hudik of Woodbridge in the long jump, Brandice Flournoy of Osbourn Park the triple jump and Stephanie Myers of Osbourn the high jump.
The Bruin girls also won the 3,200-meter relay while OP won the 800-meter relay in one of the slow heats.
The top eight places in each event scored points and the top six individuals qualified for the Group AAA state meet at George Mason University on Feb. 28-March 1.
Full team and individual results will appear in Sunday’s paper.