WOODBERRY FOREST, Va. – The word of the day was “close.”
In the Region 4B Indoor Track and Field Championships at Woodberry Forest School Saturday, the largest margin of victory was 6.5 points.
Midlothian – long a dominant force in track and field in the Region – held off a strong Louisa County team by 6 points, 139-133, to claim the Region 4B girls championship, while Courtland’s boys stiff-armed a determined Dinwiddie team by a comparatively luxurious 6.5 points, 92-85.5, for the Region 4B girls title.
It was a day that, as the event announcer pointed out, drove home the lesson that every point counted.
The Trojan girls have just one senior, Erin Babashak – who won the triple jump – and two juniors, so they had to rely upon a host of freshmen and sophomores to handle what often proved high-pressure situations.
“The majority of the team is 10th graders with a couple of ninth graders in there,” said Midlothian head track and field coach Stan Morgan. “These girls have stepped up.”
Among the ones who stepped up were sophomore Dasia Hardy, who finished second in the 55-meter dash and third in the 300, and Caroline Bowe, who finished second in the 500 run, took a 15-minute break, then got back on the track to win the 1,000 run.
“That was an unbelievable effort,” Morgan said.
He praised the Trojans’ spirit.
“They all contributed big,” Morgan said. “That’s why it’s a team effort. I’m really proud of what they did.”
Midlothian’s girls 3,200 relay team of Annabel Schepker, Chole Martin, Katherine Krievs and Millie Weinhold also took home a regional title.
Morgan said it was the 11th regional title in 14 years for the Trojan girls.
The two Hanover County representatives finished among the top five girls teams: Hanover was third with 85.5 points and Patrick Henry fourth with 46.5. The Patriot boys, helped by wins in the 800 relay and shot put, likewise finished fourth.
Patriot senior Tony Ford was a member of the winning 800 relay team. But Patrick Henry head coach Scott Brown said Ford’s 55-meter win was quite a surprise. Ford agreed.
“I came through when most it mattered,” Ford said. “My fastest time [in the event] was a 6.72, and I ran a 6.64 today, so it surprised me, too.”
Ford’s previous personal best would have had him in seventh place in the region, which is worth only 2 points for the team. Finishing fourth gave the team 5 points instead.
Hanover head coach Rich Firth had hoped his Hawks would have done better, but they got off to a sluggish start.
“We just didn’t do as well in the field events as we hoped to do,” Firth said. “That put us in a big hole early. But the running events, it looks like we’ve done about as well as we could.”
The Hawks finished with five champions. Makenzie Joiner was a triple winner, decisively claiming titles in both the girls 500 run and 300 dash and anchoring the champion 1,600 relay team. Other members of the champion relay team were Jordan Harvey, Sidney Chesley and Olivia Dumville.
Rachel Crytser won the girls 1,600 run, and Kayvon Bagby won the girls 55 hurdles.
On the boys side, Hanover’s Joey Badalamenti won the boys bole vault and Cole Myers won the 1,000 run despite feeling the hot breath of defeat on the back of his neck.
Myers led most of the race, but down the stretch, a pair of challengers almost caught up to him. When he realized what he was hearing – their footsteps – he shifted gears and found enough juice to pull away in the final 10 meters of the stretch.
“I knew they were back there. I didn’t know how far away they were, though,” Myers said. “I heard them coming up behind me. I knew I had to turn it on, so I gave it everything I had.”
The Virginia High School League Class 4 state championships will be held at Roanoke College in Salem on Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23.
Dave Lawrence can be reached at email@example.com.