Written by Jonathan Schwab
Tues., April 8 – The second annual Mike Brown Invitational welcomed strong individual and relay performances from Rockbridge County High School and Parry McCluer High School track and field athletes on Saturday at RCHS.
The meet honored Mike Brown, who coached the sport at Lexington High School and RCHS for 35 years. Brown was one of the volunteers on hand and made sure the meet ran smoothly, firing his starting pistol regularly.
In team standings, the RCHS boys placed fourth of eight teams, with 84 points, while PM finished fifth with 71. Lord Botetourt won with 144.5 points. In the girls’ meet, the Wildcats finished fourth of seven teams, scoring 76 points, while PM placed seventh with 18.6. Liberty (Bedford) won the girls’ meet with 174.5 points.
Hunter Campbell led the Wildcat boys with three high finishes, winning the long jump with a leap of 17, feet, 9.75 inches; placing second in the high jump with a height of 5-8, and finishing third in the triple jump, going 37-7.75. Praising Campbell, who scored the most points of any RCHS athlete and was named Male Athlete of the Meet, RCHS head coach Jennifer Showalter said, “He is a huge asset in field events and sprinting for us.”
Also stepping up in the long jump was Devin Lee, coming in third with a leap of 16-7.25.
Michael Bopp was the top sprinter, finishing third in the 400-meter dash in 57.05 seconds, while Brad Swenson led in distance running, placing sixth in the mile in 6:02.12.
The Wildcats placed third in two relays, the 4 X 400-meter relay in 3:55.17 and the 4 X 800-meter relay in 9:05.77. Team members for both races were Bopp, Michael Washburn, Sebastiano Blandino and Adam Hatcher.
Leading the RCHS girls was Laurel Sheffield, placing second in the mile in a personal best 5:30.27.
The top sprinter was Jessica Wheeler, finishing third in the 300-meter hurdles in 53.49 seconds. Wheeler also finished fourth in the long jump, leaping 13-10.
Also stepping up was Courtney Belanger, placing fourth in the 400-meter dash in 1:09 and fourth in the high jump, leaping four feet. Morgan Cain finished seventh in both the 100-meter dash in and the 200-meter dash, runner the shorter race in 14.7 seconds and the longer one in 26.51 seconds.
The Wildcats won the 4 X 800-meter relay in a season best 11:19.29. Team members were Sheffield, Belanger, Madeleine Gavaler and Taylor Allen. Sheffield, Allen, Belanger and Wheeler joined forces to place third in the 4 X 400-meter relay in 4:45.7.
Fayth Brown led RCHS in throwing events, placing third in the shot put with a toss of 31-3.35 and fourth in the discus with a heave of 86-4. Both were personal bests Jessica Mick placed fifth in the discus with a throw of 84-11.
For the Blues, Dallas Keiser led the boys by setting school records and winning both of his hurdle races, the 110-meter hurdles in 16.21 seconds and the 300-meter hurdles in 42.55 seconds.
Also performing well was Logan Arthur, placing second in the 800-meter run in 2:09.22.
Hunter Ramsey stepped up in the 400-meter dash, placing fourth in a personal best 57.94 seconds. “That was a surprise,” said PM head coach Chris Poluikis.
In throwing events, Ryheem Dawson won the shot put with a toss of 44-10.25 and placed second in the discus with a heave of 127-9. Tyler George was the other top thrower, placing third in the shot put with a throw of 43-4.5 and fourth in the discus with a launch of 115-7.
Leading the Blues girls was Katy Patterson, finishing third in the 800-meter run in 2:31.87. Meghan Beard followed in fifth in 2:49.27.
In distance running, Ali Armstrong tied for sixth in the mile in 6:04.45, the fastest she’s run in a while.
The Wildcats and Blues will both compete in a six-team meet on Wednesday at RCHS, starting at 5 p.m.