Bay Rivers District Outdoor Track Preview: Lafayette Boys, Girls Lead Talented Field

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Kathryn Tomczak stands proudly next to a performance indicator with her cleared height at the New Balance National Indoors. (photo courtesy of Aim High Pole Vault Club)
Kathryn Tomczak stands proudly next to a performance indicator with her cleared height at the New Balance National Indoors. (photo courtesy of Aim High Pole Vault Club)

With a deep pool of talent, the Lafayette track and field program will be the team to beat in the Bay Rivers District during the outdoor track and field season.

The Rams are coming off an impressive indoor track and field performances at the Virginia High School League Group 3A Indoor Track and Field Championships, in which the boys took home a state championship and the girls finished in second place.

While every team hopes to win a team championship, individual athletes are usually the focus in track and field. The Bay Rivers District is not lacking in individual talent.

Lafayette’s Kathryn Tomczak and Warhill’s Christopher Short are both coming off appearances in the New Balance Nationals Indoor, with Tomczak earning All-American honors in the pole vault and Short placing 14th in the 800-meter dash.

The district also features numerous state champions in multiple events. DaSha Hill of Bruton is coming off four 2A indoor state championships. Audrey Hurley and Megan Jones of Lafayette took home state championships during the 3A indoor meet, while Tabb’s Maya Hanks claimed a state title during the 4A state meet.

Below are previews for every Historic Triangle outdoor track and field team:

Bruton

Head Coach: Mark Tompkins

Athletes to Watch: DaSha Hill (100m, 200m, 400m, 4×100, 4×400), Raven Finley-Flowers (100m, 100m Hurdles), Kaitlyn Ardrey (1600m, 3200m), Cameron Wojcieszak (800m, 1600m, 3200m), Christopher Leonard (110m Hurdles, 300m Hurdles), Jaquille Fyffe (shot put)

Season Outlook: Coach Mark Tompkins said Hill is primed for a strong senior year after winning four 2A state championships during the indoor season. Ardrey is also coming off a state championship, claiming first place in the 3200-meter run during the 2A state meet. Finley-Flowers is a talented sprinter and hurdler, which should make for a successful season competing in the 100-meter hurdles. On the boys team, Leonard is one of the best hurdlers in the Bay Rivers District at both the 110- and 300-meter distances. Tompkins said Fyffe has all the physical tools to be one of the best shot putters in the district. Wojcieszak is a stable long- to middle-distance runner for the Panthers who finished sixth in the 4×800 and 3,200-meter run during the 2A indoor state meet.

 

Grafton

Head Coach: Nick Valenti and Christine Pregler

Athletes to Watch: Rachel Bloxom (3200m, 1600m, 800m, 4×800), Emily Wood (shot put, discus), Samantha Wanderer (400m, 800m, 4×400, 4×800), Tavaris Noel (400m, high jump), Miles Owens (3200m, 1600m), Price Owens (3200m, 1600m, 800m, 4×800)

Season Outlook: Freshman standout Wanderer offers the Clippers versatility in the middle distances, showing her talents in the 1,000-meter run during indoor track with a fifth-place finish during the 4A indoor state meet. Bloxom is a talented middle- to long-distance runner who claimed a regional title in the 3,200-meter run during indoor season. Grafton girls coach Christine Pregler said Bloxom is a runner who can compete in multiple events, giving Grafton some flexibility with its roster. Noel, a state runner-up for the boys during indoor, cleared 6-3 in the high jump during indoor season. If he can replicate that height during outdoor season, he should be poised to make some noise in the district. Miles and Price Owens are solid distance runners at the 3,200 and 1,600-meter distances, though Price has shown flashes of ability in the 800m.

 

Jamestown

Head Coach: Dan Schlickenmeyer

Athletes to Watch: Jordan Gravelle (200m, 400m, 800m, 4×400, 4×800), Kathleen Yates (1600m, 3200m), Jordan Willis (200m, 400m), Paul Keurajian (800m, 4×800, 1600m), Cameron Coates (800m, 4x800m, 1600m)

Season Outlook: Coach Dan Schlickenmeyer said the Jamestown track and field team is incredibly young with eight seniors among the 90 athletes on the roster. One of those seniors, Gravelle, should have a successful outdoor season. She is coming off a fourth-place finish in the 500-meter dash during the 4A state meet and should see her success during the indoor season translate well into the outdoor season in the 400-meter dash. Yates, who finished 11th during the state indoor meet in the 1,600-meter run despite training part time for track, is now on a full-time training regimen and should be one of the stronger distance runners in the district. Keurajian and Willis are both coming off top-10 finishes during the state indoor meet. Keurajian finished sixth in the 1,000m, while Willis took 10th in the 500m. Both athletes should be poised to have successful outdoor seasons in the 800m and 400m, respectively.

 

Lafayette

Head Coach: Mel Jones

Athletes to Watch: Megan Jones (100m, 200m, 400m, 4×100, 4×400, long jump, triple jump), Kathryn Tomczak (pole vault, 100m hurdles), Brooke Crookston (3200m, 1600, 800m, 400m, 4×800, 4×400), Indyah Brown (shot put, discus), Andrew Loper (3200m, 1600m, 800m, 4×800), Konrad Steck (3200m, 1600m, 800m, 4×800)

Season Outlook: Lafayette appears to be the strongest Bay Rivers District team top to bottom. The boys team is coming off an indoor state title, while the girls finished second in the state. The Lafayette track team is headed by Tomczak, who finished sixth during the New Balance Nationals Indoor in the pole vault. An All-American, Tomczak will face little competition in the pole vault within the district and has her sights on bigger goals. Jones and Crookston teamed up during the 3A indoor state meet to win the 4×400, while Jones also won the long jump. Coach Mel Jones said Crookston has a rare blend of explosiveness and endurance that allows her to contribute in multiple events across disciplines. Brown should be one of the best shot putters after taking first place in the event during every Bay Rivers District meet during indoor season. On the boys side, Loper and Steck combine to form a talented distance duo. The two runners helped lead Lafayette’s 4×800 team to a state title during indoor season. Loper and Steck finished third in the 1,000-meter run and 1,600-meter run during the 3A indoor state meet, respectively.

 

Tabb

Head Coach: Lucas Brown

Athletes to Watch: Maya Hanks (long jump, triple jump), Lindsey Blanks (3200m, 1600m, 400m), Emma Sears (shot put, discus), Baron Kieffer (3200m, 1600m, 800m, 4x800m), Zach Ahlin (pole vault, triple jump, long jump), Allen Blair (100m, 200m, 400m, high jump, long jump, triple jump)

Season Outlook: The Tigers have an experienced roster with plenty of All-State athletes on the boys and girls teams. Hanks is coming off an indoor state championship in the triple jump and should be a force in the long and triple jumps during the outdoor season. Blanks was an indoor state runner-up in the 1,600-meter run, but is also a standout in the 3,200-meter run and the 400-meter dash. Fresh off a third-place finish in the pole vault during the 4A state indoor meet, Ahlin should be one of the strongest pole vaulters in the district. Kieffer is one of the best distance runners in the district with a fourth-place finish in the 1,600m during the indoor state meet to prove it. Kieffer will likely be in the running for the top spot in the 1,600-meter run and 3,200-meter run during district and conference meets. Coach Lucas Brown said Blair is a versatile athlete that can excel in sprint events and every jumping competition. Blair notched a pair of sixth-place finishes in the 55-meter dash and long jump during the 4A state indoor meet.

 

Warhill

Head Coach: Bill Napolitano

Athletes to Watch: Miriam Buscher (3200m, 1600m, 800m, 4×800), Hannah Hrncir (800m, 4×800, 1600m, 3200m), Brea Talley (100m, 200m, 4×100), Akira Wallace (100m, 200m, 400m, long jump), Christopher Short (1600m, 800m, 400m, 4×400, 4×800), Ethan Johnson (1600m, 800m, 400m, 4×800, 4×400), Taylor Lyons (100m, 200m, 400m, 4×100, 4×400)

Season Outlook: Warhill may not have as much all-around talent as other teams in the district, but they do have one of the best all-around individual athletes in the state. Short leads the Lions after a 14th-place finish in the 800-meter dash during the New Balance Nationals Indoor. Short is a talented middle-distance runner and should take first place in most individual events he will compete in this outdoor season. A captain for the boys team, Lyons is improving steadily as a sprinter and should give the Lions more stability in the lower distances. Coach Bill Napolitano said the Warhill girls roster is small in size – the Lions have just over 30 girls on the team – but does contain some talented competitors. Buscher is coming off a third-place finish in the 1000-meter run during the 3A state meet and will likely be the best female athlete for Warhill this season. The same goes for Hrncir, a rising junior. Hrncir will compete in many of the same events as Buscher and the two should make for a talented duo.

 

York

Head Coach: Jim Bradley

Athletes to Watch: Megan Gingery (100m, 200m, long jump, triple jump, 4×100), Lori Prieto (3200m, 1600m), Aysha Kellicker (3200m, 1600m, 800m, 4×800), Ryan Born (100m, 200m, 400m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles), Ethan Jones (3200m, 1600m, 800m, 4x800m)

Season Outlook: Coach Jim Bradley says his girls team is incredibly young and inexperienced. Having some experience during the indoor season will make the outdoor season a little easier, but the Falcons will likely go through growing pains. Prieto and Kellicker will look to make some noise in the distance events, while Gingery will be York’s best chance for points in the shorter distances and jumps. Born is the lone York athlete on the roster to make the 3A indoor state meet this year. Born made the preliminaries of the state meet in the 55-meter hurdles but did not advance to the finals. Born will look to be a top hurdler in the district during the outdoor season. Jones should be York’s best distance runner during the outdoor season and should hold his own in the 3,200-meter run and the 1,600-meter run.