Brookville's boys backed up the hype by bringing home the hardware, Saturday at Liberty University's Tolsma Indoor Track.
The Bees were paced by 31 individual points from Ethan Nixon, who later led a victory lap around with the track with the championship trophy in hand. They won with 45? points, holding off Jamestown (35), Harrisonburg (34.5) and Blacksburg (33.5).
"Our boys were really mentally focused as a team," Brookville coach Ramsey Moore said. "Psychologically, they had a really good frame of mind. They were excited, knowing they had a chance at winning a state title, but they didn't tense up. They didn't let the pressure get to them."
Nixon set the tone for the team by breaking his own Group AA state record in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 7.51 seconds in the preliminaries. He then came from behind to defend his state title in the finals, passing Broadway's Brett Olinger on the fourth of five hurdles to win in 7.56, five-hundredths of a second ahead of Olinger.
"Going into the finals, I felt a little fatigued because I'd been doing the high jump and the triple jump," Nixon said. "I tried to go into it relaxed and coming out of the blocks, I was fifth or sixth after the first hurdle. We were tied going over the fourth hurdle and ? I found another gear and I took it."
Nixon also had a banner day in the field events, placing second in the high jump (6-foot-5) and long jump (21-8?) and fourth in the triple jump in 44-5?, improving his personal record by nearly a foot.
"(Winning the hurdles) definitely got my confidence back up," Nixon said. "The team was expecting an awful lot out of me today and I did just about everything I could. I PR'd in just about everything so I can't complain."
"He was the best athlete in the entire track meet by far," added Moore, who waited more than three hours after his last athlete competed in an event before the Bees accepted the state trophy.
"It's been sit and wait for a while," he said before the meet-ending 1,600 relay, by which time Brookville had clinched the crown. "We probably put a little more stress on ourselves than we had to by thinking of all the worst-case scenarios before we started to celebrate."
Moore said Nixon's and Hugh Oulds' second- and fifth-place finishes in the long jump "made it really hard for any team to catch us."
Brookville's Stacey Houston, who was seeded fourth in the 55-meter dash, was disqualified for a false start. But Oulds, seeded 19th in the long jump, made up for it by beating his PR by a foot in the long jump with a leap of 21-3?.
"That was totally unexpected," Moore said
"All I had to do, as all my coaches have been telling my all year, was just get on the board," Oulds added.
The Bees already look like favorites to defend their indoor title next year.
"I don't think anybody who scored points today, other than Griffin Weston running a leg of the 4x800 relay, was a senior, so the future looks pretty bright," Moore said. "It was a fantastic way to close the indoor season and get ready for the outdoor season."
Jefferson Forest placed sixth with 28 points in the boys team race, fueled by its state title in the 3,200 relay and third-place finish in the 1,600 relay.
The Cavaliers' 3,200 relay, which finished runner-up last year, won for the second time in three seasons in a team PR of 8:12.58, more than 10 seconds ahead of second-place Spotswood (8:22.65) and third-place Brookville (8:24.61).
"It was pretty exciting," said Matt Kadak, who ran the anchor leg. "We weren't expecting to be that far ahead."
"I led the first three laps before the Harrisonburg kid came back and I gave it to Collin and he blew away the rest of the competition," said Brandon Love, who ran the opening leg. "It wasn't a race after that."
Geoff Ranowsky, who took the baton from Collin Clark and ran the third leg, turned in the fastest split time.
Shashi Murphy came from nearly 10 meters behind to beat Blacksburg's Peter Dorrell in dramatic fashion in the final heat of the 1,600 relay.
"I tried getting ahead of him on the first lap but he wasn't going to let me, so I figured if I stayed close to him, I could out-kick him," said Murthy, who threw up after running in the 300. "This was my last indoor race so you can't leave anything behind."
The Cavaliers wound up third behind Christiansburg and Jamestown, who finished 1-2 in the previous heat.
Forest senior Matt Smith finished third in the pole vault by clearing 13-6. Staunton River's James Bell and Brookville's Andrew Epperson tied for fourth after each getting over 13-0.
"Usually, if both of them are jumping well, I'll jump well," Smith said. "We kind of feed off each other. It's a lot of motivation."
Liberty's Erik Kuster was second in the shot put with a heave of 53 feet, 1? inches, less than a foot behind Turner Ashby champion Justin Smith (54-0). JF's John Pavia placed third with a throw of 49-10.
"Pavia beat me once before here but Justin came out of nowhere," Kuster said. "That was the first time this year he's beaten me."
Appomattox's Michael Chambers repeated his second-place Region III finish in the triple jump at the state meet, covering 45-3.
Charlottesville won the girls competition with 66 points, beating Blacksburg (58.5), Brentsville (44) and Courtland (39.5)
Brookville's Janel Reeves (5:17.64) edged Heritage's Laura Rapp (5:17.78) for sixth place in the 1,600, but Rapp came back to take second in the 1,000 behind Blacksburg's Cate Berenato.
"It was pretty intense," Rapp said. "It was a good race for me. She's a really, really good runner. I was just trying to get it as close as possible. I got even with her and when she felt me come up alongside her, she turned it up a notch. It was just an all-out battle to the finish."
Pioneers teammates Kisha Johnson placed fourth in the triple jump (35-2) and seventh in the 55 hurdles (9.05) and Kim Jones finished second in the shot put (36-3?) to combine with Rapp to score 25 team points, leading Heritage to an eighth-place team finish.
Rustburg placed 12th with 17.5 points. The Red Devils scored only 4? points in the high jump, where coach Gerald Mosley was hoping for 10, setting a trend for the rest of the competition.
"In a big track meet, you can't leave points hanging around or somebody else will take advantage of it and you'll be behind the 8 ball," Mosley said. "It's too late for us to catch up now. Everybody had an off day today."
Senior Kristin Smith was extremely busy shuffling between her track and field events. She placed second in the triple jump (35-10?), fourth in the long jump (17-?) and fifth in the high jump (5-2).
"I did good in the field events (but) in my two running events (the 300 and 500), I didn't place," Smith said. "I just didn't have any energy."
Appomattox's Dominique Terry took third in the 55 dash in 7.39 and Brookville's 3,200 relay team of Essie Wallace, Angela Newman, Karina Watts and Reeves finished fourth in 10:05.18.