HAMPTON — Phoebus' Carolyn Brown and Bethel's Maya Moore won individual titles as representatives of the Peninsula District in Saturday's Group AAA state track championships, held at the Boo Williams Sports Complex.
Quickly emerging as a young phenom, Brown won the 55 meters in Saturday's second running event. In the process, she bettered her own freshman state record with a time of 6.96. While it is unfair to compare her to local sprinting legend and current Olympic hopeful Francena McCorory at this point, the performance similarities at this stage in their careers are hard to ignore.
Ironically, McCorory was in attendance on Saturday, representing host school Bethel, handing out awards for certain events. When asked about Brown, the current women's 400-meter American record holder admitted that she has "not been keeping up with high school track as much as I'd like." But when notified of Brown's performance as the region winner in the 55 and 300, and given the times, she paused for a second and said. "That's awesome. I think I ran a 6.8 in high school (6.86 as a Bruin senior at the 2006 Eastern region meet)."
Brown's day was not over. She had already placed sixth in the high jump on Friday, but later led off the Phantom fourth place 800-meter relay. In the 300, her opportunity to pull a double victory was halted as Landstown's Tanisha Green pulled away in the homestretch, while Brown ended up in fourth.
Sporting a pair of icebags around her shins after the race, Brown noted that there was some pain in that area, a problem she did not have at last week's regionals. However, reflecting on her overall performance, the ninth grader was pleased.
"I think I did great. I helped my team to the best of my ability." Asked about the experience of running in her first AAA state track meet, she admitted that it was a "little nervewracking," but also added, "I kept my focus and didn't let (the) nervousness and pressure get to me."
Moore's win in the 500 meters was one of the most exciting races of the day. Heeding Bethel coach Eddie Williams' advice to hold back until the last lap, Moore settled into the fifth position for the first 300 meters. Heading into the bell lap, Williams continued to verbally urge his star senior to wait.
An unexpected opportunity arose on the back turn with 100 meters to go when two runners got caught with each other in a stumble. Seizing the moment, Moore passed them to move into third, then continued her attack, taking the outright lead coming off of the last turn. Despite a desperate attempt by Felicia Majors of South County to catch Moore in the homestretch, the Lady Bruin held on to win with a time of 1:15.76.
"Coach (Williams) told me the race would come down to the last 55 meters. He said that once I came off the turn, to use everything I had to finish," said Moore. With regard to the commotion on the last turn, Moore added, "I think Juvette Lee (of Western Branch) stepped on the rail and stumbled, which caused the rest of us to break our stride."
Moore was also part of the day's most dramatic event. With one event remaining, the girls from Cosby needed to win the 1600-meter relay to capture the state title over powerhouse Western Branch. Bethel took the early lead, but Cosby stormed back to open up a four-meter margin heading into the last leg, which featured Moore. Making a full charge, she halved the lead on the first lap, and on the last turn, with the full chants of "whoop" in the background, Moore took the lead.
But with a state championship on the line, the team from Chesterfield was not to be denied. Alexandria Moseley fought down the homestretch, passing Moore with 20 meters to go, and hanging on to give her team a .27 second win and the title.
The Phoebus girls were the Peninsula's highest placing team on Saturday, placing sixth with 28 points. Bethel was close behind in eighth with 26. The Bruin boys also placed eighth, tallying 19 points.
In the final meet standings, Cosby, sparked by distance standout Megan Moye, ended up winning by four points over Western Branch. However, their boys did claim yet another title, scoring 48 points to defeat runner-up Grassfield, who earned 34.
The top eight athletes and relays were named to the Virginia AAA All-State team.
State champions and Peninsula District athletes/relays in top eight.
Boys: HJ – 1. Simmons (JRT) 6-10, T-8. Poindexter (WAR) 6-3. PV – 1. Johnson (KEL) 15-3. SP – 1. Frenia (KEM) 59-7.5. TJ – 1. Peterson (LAK) 47-5.5. LJ – 1. Bates (MAT) 23-11.25. 3200R – 1. Westfield 7:53.75. 55H – 1. Holloway (GRA) 7.32. 55 – 1. M. Williams (FP) 6.37, 7. Proctor (BET) 6.50. 800R – 1. Western Branch 1:30.16, 2. Bethel (Proctor, Mcbride, Flemming, Cheseman) 1:30.32. 1600 – 1. Miller (CHAN) 4:15.48. 500 – 1. Cherry (OS) 1:04.20, 6. Flemming (BET) 1:06.65. 1000 – 1. Bile (ANN) 2:26.44. 300 – 1. Cherry (OS) 34.08. 3200 – 1. Visokay (ALB) 9:15.37. 1600R – 1. Westfield 3:23.76, 3. Bethel (Mcbride, Brown, Flemming, Cheseman) 3:25.80. 4. Hampton (Hale, Pressley, Ellis, Green) 3:26.27.
Girls: HJ – 1. Hayes (MAT) 5-8. 4. Wagner (GLO) 5-4. 6. Brown (PHO) 5-4. PV – 1. Majors (SC) 12-0. SP – 1. Howell (GRA) 46-1.25. TJ – 1. Saunders (NR) 40-3.5. LJ – 1. Majors (SC) 19-1.5, 8. Thomas (BET) 17-7. 3200R – 1. Cosby 9:16.65. 55H – 1. Taylor (WB) 7.95, 2. Ray (HAM) 7.99, 5. Vaughan (PHO) 8.22, 8. Boddie (PHO) 8.37. 55 – 1. C. Brown (PHO) 6.96, 5. Anderson (HER) 7.17. 800R – 1. Western Branch 1:42.31, 4. Phoebus (Brown, Boddie, Pierce, Washington) 1:43.71, 7. Bethel (Cuffee, Savoy, Moore, Grendle) 1600 – 1. Moye (COS) 4:53.4. 500 – 1. Moore (BET) 1:15.76. 1000 – 1. Ficenec (MOVI) 2:51.46. 300 – 1. Greene (L) 38.98, 4. Brown (PHO) 40.04, 8. Cuffee 40.72. 3200 – 1. Moye (COS) 10:25.06. 1600R – 1. Cosby 3:53. 36. 2. Bethel (Cuffee, Savoy, Greenle, Moore) 3:53.63.
Team Scores (Top Three and Peninsula District Teams)
Boys: 1. Western Branch 48, 2. Grassfield 34, 3. Westfield 27. Peninsula District teams: 8. Bethel 19, 37. Hampton 5, 58. Warwick .33.
Girls: 1. Cosby 54, 2. Western Branch 50, 3. Nansemond River 40. Peninsula District teams: 6. Phoebus 28, 8. Bethel 26, 27. Hampton 6, 32. Gloucester 5, 38. Heritage 4.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun