DUMFRIES — The weather has wreaked havoc on local track teams all winter and it looked like it would do the same to the Brian Watkins I-95 Track Classic, the outdoor season opener at Potomac High School.
Rain showers cleared off the track in the morning and then more rain came after 1:30 p.m. However, with the threat of a severe thunderstorm looming later that afternoon, Mother Nature suddenly cooperated. The sun broke out, a gentle breeze picked up and two area athletes who had tumultuous indoor seasons shone the brightest.
Brentsville’s Jacqueline Bailey took first in the 300-meter hurdles against an outstanding field that included all-state competitors Afua Amponsah of Gar-Field and Devon Alston of Osbourn Park while Woodbridge senior Chezaray Conley won the triple jump and 400-meter dash in his first meet back from a freakish shoulder injury.
Bailey, last season’s Group A state title holder in the 100-meter hurdles, only was able to compete in one winter invitational, the Keydet Invitational on Jan. 11, due to inclement weather. Because of that, Bailey was a little unsure of how she would fare against bigger school competition who had more meet experience in the winter. Group A does not have official competition during the indoor season.
“The whole snow thing, we had so many problems,” said Bailey, who placed second in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the high jump on Saturday. “We went to one meet the whole indoor season …so I didn’t know how prepared I’d be to come compete with people that had been running months and months.”
Brentsville coach was not surprised with Bailey’s performance despite the long layoff. Sherrill wants Bailey to think about winning races, regardless of the competition.
“If you look throughout the state, in all honesty, she should be [in the top] three or four, single, double, triple [A], whatever,” Sherrill said. “It’s just getting it into her head to drop the classifications.”
Conley was having a terrific indoor season before suffering a dislocated shoulder in the high jump at the Northwest Region meet. Conley was attempting to clear 5 feet, 10 inches when something went horribly wrong.
“I felt it in the air but I wasn’t sure what it was,” said Conley, who recorded the fastest area 500-meter dash time in the indoor regular season. “I thought it maybe just popped out, or the muscle just strained itself real quick. I got over [the bar] and landed on it, and I went to get up but I couldn’t. When I got off the mat, I noticed it was dislocated, and you could see the definition and everything.”
After a month of doing virtually nothing, an anxious Conley was cleared to start practicing. He was happy with his performance on Saturday, especially since all he had worked on till that point was his steps for the long jump and triple jump. Now, he just wants to stay healthy.
“The worse part about it [the injury] was knowing personally that I could do stuff but [I was] not being allowed to do it,” Conley said. “So that really hurt me a lot. The whole time I was sitting in the chair telling the paramedics, ‘I got to be back by 4 o’clock, I got to be back by 4 o’clock.’ Everybody in the hospital knew I had to be back by 4 o’clock. …And to get back and found out that I am still capable but they won’t let me do it, that really messed me up. I’ve just been mostly working out and making sure I’m in shape, so I don’t have to worry about it again.”
Conley was one of the highlights of an impressive performance by the Vikings, who took both the boys and girls’ team titles. Woodbridge, the 2001 Brian Watkins champions, edged Northwest Region indoor runner-up Colonial Forge 73 to 70. Gar-Field, which won the meet last year, Mt. Vernon and Brooke Point rounded out the top five of the 19 teams.
In the girls, Woodbridge won 55 to 54 over defending indoor district champion and 2002 Brian Watkins champ Gar-Field. Brooke Point, Brentsville and Osbourn Park finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Mike Porter of Colonial Forge and Jill Porto of Potomac won the 3,200-meter runs and were awarded watches, a token given out each year in memory of former Panthers’ distance runner Brian Watkins. Watkins tragically died in a all-terrain vehicle accident after running for Potomac in the 1990s.
BRUIN INDIVIDUALS FARE WELL IN RALEIGH
Several Forest Park track athletes missed the Brian Watkins meet because they had just participated in the adidas Raleigh Relays on March 26-28.
Senior Reynold Smith won the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, eight inches and was second in the triple jump with a 45-8 3/4. The Bruins’ boys distance medley relay team won with a time of 10 minutes, 53 seconds while the girls DMR finished second with a 12:42.52.
Forest Park’s 6,400-meter relay team was second with a 23:35.82.