STAFFORD — It was a good day for defending champions at the Commonwealth District indoor track meet at Stafford High School on Tuesday.
The Colonial Forge boys racked up back-to-back titles with an impressive 178-point total, which was more than double the points of the closest competitor Brooke Point (84). Albemarle placed third with 81 points while North Stafford (36), Stafford (28) and Culpeper (23) completed the order.
“I think the difference this year is we have been able to fill all the spots,” Colonial Forge coach Mark Doherty said. “We have a team that could really be good but we weren’t sure until we came out here today.
“With the weather being the way it has been, a lot of our runners haven’t peaked yet. So I think with the warm weather today it helped some of our guys achieve personal bests.”
The North Stafford girls repeated as district champs by the slimmest of margins, a 16-point advantage, over fast-closing Brooke Point 136-120 while Colonial Forge was third with 106 points. Albemarle (62), Stafford (18) and Culpeper (5) rounded out the team order.
“I was real pleased with our girls performance,” North Stafford coach Harry Booth said. “We knew coming in that Brooke Point and Colonial Forge would be tough to beat.
“But when you win by 16 points, it is a really close event. I think one of the keys was us taking the 1-2-3 spots in the 55 hurdles.”
The Eagles’ boys won six of the 14 events held in winds reaching up to 40 miles per hour.
Brothers Jerome Miller (6-foot-8) and Jason Miller (6-6) got the day started right for Colonial Forge by finishing 1-2 in the high jump. This coming, after the two junior transfers had placed second and third in the triple jump.
Chris Florio followed by winning the shot put for the Eagles with a throw of 45 feet, 1-1/2 inches while teammate Chris McElvaine captured the 55-meter hurdles in 8.38 seconds.
But it was the distance races where the Eagles soared. Seniors Michael Porter and Sean Leyh went around the track together in the 1,600 and finished the race holding hands as a sign of team unity. Porter (4:38.20) was awarded first and Leyh (4:38.22) second while Colonial Forge teammate John Hoehne placed fourth with a time of 4:50.14.
According to Doherty, Porter and Leyh’s display was a sign of how important they are to the team.
“At practices and meets, the two of them are always trying to help the others,” Doherty said. “They go out of their way to try and set a pace to push the younger runners. Plus, they do the same thing to one another.”
Leyh and Hoehne finished first and third in the 1,000 while Porter finished second to Hari Mix of Albemarle in the 3,200.
“We had decided if we were leading the 1,600 together on the final lap,” Porter said. “That we would finish the race together. So that is what we did.”
The only other Stafford County winner was Brooke Point’s Nick Faltz who turned in a double with wins in the triple jump (42-5 1/2) and the 300 (36.30).
Eric Herlan had the only top-three finish for the host team, Stafford, with a second-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles in a time of 8.61.
The Eagles also took both the 800 relay and the 1,600 relay in times of 1:34.02 and 3:31.71 respectively. North Stafford took the 3,200 relay in 8:42.92.
On the girls side, the Wolverines welcomed the healthy return of Courtney King and Fallon Hutcherson to withstand seven first-place finishes by the Black-Hawks.
For Brooke Point, Shanndra Johnson took the first two events of the day — the long jump (15-3 1/2) and the triple jump (33-7) before teammate Hannah Gavagan captured the high jump (4-11).
The Wolverines found their stride when they took the top three spots — Tiffany Jones, Jessica Baldwin and Nicole Coulambe — in the 55-meter hurdles. Then Hutcherson and King finished first and third in the 55-meter dash and the Wolverines’ points began to fall into place with an 800 relay win.
Jaryyd Mushatt-Valrie (500), Amanda Mascarenas (1,000) and Jamie Mushatt-Valrie had individual wins for the Black-Hawks. Together, the Mushatt-Valrie sisters accounted for five top-four finishes.
Christina Porter, the younger sister of Michael Porter, won the 3,200 in a time of 12:12.39 for the only first place finish for Colonial Forge.
Stafford’s Tonieh Hansford placed fourth in the shot and sixth in the 55-meter hurdles.
The top two teams and the top six individuals advance to the Group AAA Northwest Region indoor track meet at Fork Union on Feb. 15. The state meet is scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 1 at George Mason University.
With the Wolverines’ girls getting closer to full strength and the overall depth of the Eagles’ boys, bigger and better things may await.
“I talked to the team about how special this team could be,” Doherty said. “Teams like this don’t come along every day and they have got to want to go out and prove it. We did well today but we left a lot of points still out there that we could get.”