No, not that exam time. Not math or history or English.
Track and field. Yes! That sport has final exams. Two of them, in fact.
They’re not actually called exams, though. They’re championship meets, the Prep League and League of Independent Schools the second Saturday of May and the VISAA – states – the next.
Dual meet records don’t count in track and field, you see. Those competitions – held often on Wednesdays in March and April – plus few weekend invitationals are merely fact-finding missions.
They’re chances for athletes to hone skills, improve marks, determine where they stand compared to others – and themselves.
They’re chances also for coaches to take those marks and envision their athletes’ placement in championship competition in order to “max out” on points.
They confer with colleagues, crunch the numbers, weigh their options, lie awake running scenarios through their heads, and all too often overthink.
That’s the fun of competing. That’s the fun of coaching. If you get it right, you’re quietly satisfied. If you don’t, well…OK, “don’t” isn’t an option.
Last month, final exams for Collegiate’s track and field teams, both heavily dependent on underclassmen, went well. Quite well, actually.
The girls finished second in the LIS and state. The guys placed second in their league – their top performance in years – and fourth in the VISAA. Together, individuals and relay teams accounted for seven league and four state titles.
Here’re some highlights, first from the LIS meet held May 11 at St. Christopher’s.
- Sadie Woodhouse won the discus (104-1) and placed third in the shot put (33-3.5).
- Eliza Stone (5-4) won the high jump and Carrington Miller and Lauren Lucy (4-10) tied for third.
- Madeleine Watkins, sidelined most of the spring with a stress fracture in her left foot and two sore shins, gutted her way to a second-place finish in the 3200 (12:12.71).
- Chandler Eddleton (12.86), Caliyah Bennett (12.97), and Ashley D’Ambrosia (13.14) went 2-3-4 in the 100.
- Lucy (9-6), Catherine Horner (9-6), and D’Ambrosia (9-0) went 3-4-5 in the pole vault.
- Eddleton (1:01.16) and Sophia Warner (1:01.71) went 3-4 in the 400.
- Both the 4x100 team (D’Ambrosia, Lucy, Elizabeth Klevana, Bennett, 50.90) and 4x400 team (Warner, Mohini Johri, Gracie White, Horner, 4:20.07) placed second.
“This was our smallest team in years,” said Beth Kondorossy, head coach and program leader. “The strength of our younger girls helped us to finish as strongly as we did. Their strength was in direct relationship to the older girls’ leadership. Our captains and senior leaders get to know people outside their event groups. The more they did that, the more it felt like a team effort.”
Next, the Prep League championship, run concurrently with the LIS.
- Liam Bellamy won the 800 (1:57.47), anchored the winning 4x800 (with Sam Hart, Johnny White, and Will Neuner, 8:10.04) and 4x400 (with K.J. Rodgers, Brooks Moore, and Neuner, 3:30.32), and was voted outstanding running event performer.
- White (9:58.26) ran away with the 3200.
- Alfred Stratford (6-6) and Brooks Moore (6-2) went 1-3 in the high jump.
- J.P. Mintz (13-6) and Jensen Richardson (11-0) went 1-4 in the pole vault.
- Donald Adams placed second in the 100 (11.22) and third in the 200 (23.31) and long jump (21-10.75). He also anchored the third-place 4x100 team with Timothy Atkins, Moore, and Jake Darling (45.58).
- Rodgers placed second in the 400 (50.05).
The VISAA championship took place May 18 at Sports Backers Stadium. Here’re highlights from that humid, 95-degree day.
- The girls’ 4x100 team (D’Ambrosia, Lucy, Eddleton, Bennett) won the state title in 49.98.
- Stone (5-2) won the high jump for the second consecutive year.
- Woodhouse placed second in both the shot put (33-2.75) and discus (94-9).
- Lucy (10-6), D’Ambrosia (10-0), and Horner (9-6) went 2-3-5 in the pole vault.
- Watkins (12:42.01) and Virginia Kauders (13:27.14) went 3-6 in the 3200.
- Johri (2:28.23) placed fifth in the 800.
- Eddleton (12.79), Bennett (13.24), Lucy (13.41) went 2-5-6 in the 100.
- Eddleton (26.79), D’Ambrosia (26.87), and Warner (27.2) placed 4-5-6 in the 200.
- The boys 4x800 team (Hart, White, Neuner, Bellamy) claimed the state title (8:03.73).
- Bellamy won the 800, lowering his school record to 1:52.87. Neuner placed fourth in 1:59.35.
- White finished second (10:07.10) in the 3200, Rodgers third (49.87) in the 400, Stratford third (6-2) in the high jump, and Mintz (13-0) third and Richardson (11-6) sixth in the pole vault.
It’s no anomaly that five Collegiate vaulters scored in both league and state competition or that Lucy set the school record (10-6.75) at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro June 13.
“John (Vellenoweth, a former star pole vaulter at Penn State) is doing a wonderful job (coaching),” Kondorossy said. “There’re a lot of good things happening. He’s empowering his athletes. He’s helped them understand the importance of putting in time and commitment to details. There’s cohesiveness and good, healthy competition within that group.”
It’s also no anomaly that the distance contingent, with Bellamy leading the way, thrived.
“Watching Liam compete every day is a good example for people to see,” Kondorossy said. “His success has been contagious. The other guys want to do well, not just for Collegiate but for Liam. He takes it seriously. He’s really helped our program, not just by his performances but by his work ethic, attitude, and seriousness about the sport. He makes track really cool.”
While states was contested in the heat, the league meet played out under an overcast sky with intermittent rain. With two events remaining, thunder rolled, rain intensified, and the meet moved into the St. Christopher’s field house.
At that point, the guys trailed Woodberry Forest for second by eight points. Victories by White and the 4x4 squad – fueled by a bevy of Collegiate partisans whose high-decibel encouragement echoed off the walls – provided the edge.
“There was definitely excitement,” Kondorossy said. “Everybody needs to stick around because one of these years soon, we’ll be accepting the championship plaque. It’s going to happen.”
(Note: Of the aforementioned, only Watkins, Johri, Kauders, Richardson, Moore, Atkins, Darling, and Rodgers are Class of 2019.)