Brookville's Nixon wins 55 hurdles, high jump
News & Advance
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Defending champion Brookville's boys got 35 points from Ethan Nixon, who was recovering from the flu, and clung to a three-point lead over Western Albemarle heading into the final 1,600-meter relay at Saturday's Group AA state indoor track and field meet at Liberty University.

Completely drained after competing in five events - winning two, finishing second in two others and fourth in a fifth - Nixon pulled himself out of that race after talking it over with coach Ramsey Moore.

The Bees still managed a fourth-place finish with Nixon's replacement, Jake Carter, giving them the lead in the third leg of the second heat. But in the fifth and final heat, Western Albemarle pulled ahead of Christiansburg on the last lap, winning the race and clinching the team title in dramatic fashion, 57-55.

"We knew what our time was and knew we had to stay within one place of them to win," Moore said. If the Warriors had placed second to Christiansburg, Brookville would have tied for the title.

For a while, it looked like Heritage, the Seminole District and Region III champion, might pose the biggest threat to Brookville's title defense. But besides beating the Bees to win the 800 relay out of a slower heat and Shawn Sutton's second-place showing in the 55, the Pioneers didn't land enough top-five finishes and took fourth behind Blacksburg (47) with 35 points.

"I told them before the meet, there was no room for error," Heritage coach Theo McIvor said. "We knew we were in the hole and the kids had to perform at their best. We didn't pick up the points we needed in the high jump and the 55, or the 300 and the long jump."

Corey Calloway was upset with his third-place finish in the long jump, feeling he was rushed right after placing eighth in the 300 in 37.12 seconds.

"It was my fastest time, but I still wasn't satisfied," said Calloway, who also ran the third leg of the Pioneers' winning 800 relay and anchored the 1,600 relay, which came in ninth.

Nixon dealt with similar challenges, juggling multiple events.

"The high jump, triple jump and hurdles all started at the same time (and) I could tell my energy level was dropping after every event," Nixon said. "I had to ask myself, how could I best conserve energy today? I had to (reserve) the most adrenaline as possible for when I needed it and relax when I needed to relax."

Nixon won the high jump at 6-foot-6 and out-leaned Broadway's Brett Olinger by one-hundredth of a second in the 55 hurdles, after the runners bumped twice.

Staunton River's James Bell was the only other area individual state champion, winning the pole vault by clearing 14-4.

"I had really good speed, but I planted my lead foot too far inside and I just muscled my way over," said Bell, who just missed qualifying for nationals at 14-8.

Heritage's Laura Rapp captured one of five area girls state crowns, winning the 1,000 in 2:57.98.

She was also runner-up in the 1,600 and ran the first leg of the Pioneers' fourth-pace 1,600 relay, which pushed the Pioneers (33) past Amherst (31) and Brookville (30) into third place.

"This track's a lot faster than the one at Heritage," said Rapp, who took five seconds off her best time in the 1,600 (5:08.88) while chasing Blacksburg's Laurel MacMillan (5:07.10). "Laurel is awesome. She has like an internal timer where she can set a pace and keep going forever."

Brookville's Janel Reeves (5:11.51) was third before finishing fourth in the 3,200.

Teammate Shelley Parker improved her PR by a full foot to win the pole vault at 11 feet.

"I got in on the first try," said Parker, who also cleared 10-0, which would have won the event, on her first attempt. "It was so much fun. I visualized jumping 11-6 and I got 11-0. It was the first time I ever got over 11 feet."

Amherst's Lacear Hubbard won the long jump with a leap of 17-4 3/4 with teammate Shawna Kyle second at 17-3 1/2. Also for the Lancers, Candace Davis won the triple jump (35-10 1/4).

"I was ranked fifth, but I just ran in as hard as I could and powered off the board," Davis said. "I stretched my phases out."

Liberty junior Kenara Hurt won the 300 in 41.26 after finishing a close third in the 55 in 7.37, the same time as runner-up Michelle Speede of Grafton.

"I lost by (less than a) hundredth of a second," Hurt said.