Viking boys pumped after district win

WOODBRIDGE –A celebratory leap into the long jump pit by Vikings senior Matt Drake may not have been the best jump of the day by a Woodbridge competitor but it sure got the point across.

Drake had just won the 3,200-meter run Wednesday afternoon, guaranteeing the Vikings their first indoor Cardinal District title since 1998. After slumping to the ground for a moment, he jumped up quickly, sprinted with his hands outstretched towards the long jump pit and leaped into the sand.

“It’s tremendous, I can’t explain it, I can’t believe what’s going on right now,” Drake said. “Coach [Jim] Rodgers and coach [Jay] Arther, they worked so hard with us, they wanted it as bad as we did.”

Drake had ample reason to celebrate. Last fall, he injured his ankle the day of the cross country district meet and, consequently, was not 100 percent for the postseason. Last track season, Drake was sick at districts, finishing seventh in the 3,200 to barely miss going to the Northwest Region meet.

“Man, I’ve been working so hard the past two years,” said Drake, who also finished third in the 1,600-meter run. “I ran 1,000 miles this summer. Cross country didn’t really work out the way I wanted to in the end with my ankle injury… I’ve just been working really hard, praying to God that I would have the opportunity to run like I did today in the mile and two mile.”

Woodbridge senior Mike Lyng, who won the 1,600-meter run and was second to teammate Tim Stark in the 1,000-meter run, was extremely proud of Drake’s accomplishment.

“He’s the hardest worker on the team no doubt about it,” Lyng said. “He puts in the time.”

Arther agreed.

“Matt Drake is possibly the hardest working kid I have ever worked with, college level or high school level,” said Arther, who’s in his fifth year with Woodbridge after coaching at Virginia Tech. “He’s not blessed with a lot of speed but he just works hard. I have seen Matt come from his freshman year where he could barely hang on to any kind of kid on this team and now all of the sudden, he’s district champ.”

The Vikings hung tough in the field and sprint events against defending champion Gar-Field and then crushed the field in the distance events. Woodbridge went first through fourth in both the 1,000-meter and 1,600-meter runs and junior Galen Huling placed second behind Drake in the 3,200.

Woodbridge’s 1,600-meter relay team also took first.

“That was the meet for us,” Arther said of the longer races. “If we didn’t do that, we’re in trouble. Once again, the distance kids pulled us through.”

The Vikings bested the second-place Indians 190.83-172.33. Eric Coleman led Gar-Field with a first-place finish in the 55-meter dash and the 300-meter dash and teammate Derek Liggins hit a personal-best mark of 23 feet and a half inch to win the long jump.

Nathan Ross won the 500-meter run, Antoine Woods took the 55-meter hurdles, Larry Evans won the high jump with a meet-record jump of six feet, four inches and Flordell Kissee took the shot put to keep Gar-Field close throughout the meet.

Forest Park was third and Hylton fourth. The Bruins won the 3,200-meter relay while the Bulldogs were first in the 800-meter relay.

In the girls competition, Gar-Field won its 12th straight indoor district title with Woodbridge, Forest Park and Hylton rounding out the field. The Indians were led by freshman Kharya Brown, daughter of assistant coach Bob Brown. In her first district competition, Brown won the 55-meter dash, long jump and 300-meter dash.

Being on a perennially talented team like Gar-Field has helped Brown get better quickly.

“It really motivates me a lot and gets me going,” said Brown, who won the 200-meter dash in the U-12 AAU National Championships.

Brown had plenty of assistance along the way. Tiffany Evans won her second straight district title in the shot put, throwing 42-2 1/2 to break a meet mark. Teammate Kalin Locke won the 55-meter hurdles and was second in the high jump and Tonnetta Harris won the 500-meter run.

The Indians also took first in the 800,1600 and 3,200-meter relays and Amanda Webber took first in the pole vault during field events on Tuesday.

The Bruins’ Beth Fahey won the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs and Hylton’s Jemissa Hess won the 1,000-meter run and was second to Fahey in the 1,600. Fahey used an impressive move in the second lap of the 1,600 to get by Hess, the 2001 cross country state runner-up.

“When you got Jemissa in the race, [if] she sits on Beth then she’s going to outkick her,” Forest Park coach Dave Davis said. “So the only thing we did was don’t go to the lead, see what Jemissa’s got and with 6, 700 meters behind [you] , just go and see if anybody responds. And we just got lucky today that she didn’t respond.”

For the Vikings, Emily Jones won the high jump and Tishiki Ferguson, a new transfer from North Stafford, won the triple jump.

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