Coach Mike Brown briefs the sprinters before the 100M Dash - Rollie Jacobs Photo
On a beautiful spring day in Lexington, VA, ten teams from Virginia and West Virginia gathered to compete at the 1st Annual Mike Brown Invitational at Rockbridge County High School. The meet was coordinated by Rockbridge coach Jennifer Showalter as way to provide competition for regional athletes and honor her former coach, Mike Brown. Coach Brown mentored and coached young athletes in the Lexington area for over 35 years and continues to mentor athletes, coaches and former athletes since his retirement. He also continues to contribute to the local track scene, serving as an official and starter at local track and field events. On Saturday, Coach Brown was again in action as the starter of the meet named in his honor.
The competition was worthy of the man it was named after. After a slow start, the Jefferson boys captured first in the boys’ competition and second in the girls’ competition while rival Sherando seized first in the girls’ and second in the boys’ competitions.
Jefferson's Ryan Graf and Andrew Milliron finished 1-2 in the 3200M Run - Rollie Jacobs Photo
It was a long trip for Jefferson as they gathered at 4:30 AM in Shenandoah Junction, WV for the trip to Rockbridge County High School but they were able to shake off the cobwebs and focus on their performance as the day progressed. As expected, the Jefferson boys received key contributions from sprinter Dante’ Price and distance specialist Ryan Graf. Price seized the 100M and 200M Dash titles in 10.88 and 22.50 seconds respectively while Graf pitched in with a victory in the 3200M run in 9:42.02 followed by teammate Andrew Milliron in 9:50.6. In addition to Price and Graf, Jefferson notched an outstanding performance from hurdler Warren Gray. Gray won the 110M Hurdles in 15.85 and followed up with a convincing 300M Hurdles victory (41.22). Additional Jefferson victories were earned by long jumper Martinez Grant (19’6.00), and Warren Goode in the 400M Dash (52.36).
Sherando rode the strength of their relay teams on the way to their second place finish. Sherando earned victories in the 4X100 Relay (44.36), 4X400 Relay (3:35.15) and 4x800 Relay (8:18.03). Sherando’s Chris Smith cleared 6’02” to take first in the High Jump and contribute to Sherando’s finish.
Other outstanding boy’s performances included a two victory day by Alleghany’s Gaige Kern with wins in the 800M Run (2:02.32) and the 1600M (4:38.4). Troy Helton put Covington High on the victory board by leaping 38’10.0” in the Triple Jump. Parry McCluer’s Rhyeem Dawson posted an impressive victory by putting the shot 45’8.0” to secure the win. Dawson also finished second (119’5”) to James River High’s Owen Deacon in the discus (138’11”).
Overall, the Jefferson boys earned the victory with 162.5 points followed by Sherando (86) with Alleghany (75), Liberty (70) and Parry McCluer (38) rounding out the top five.
Sherando's Candice Banks Streaks To Victoryt in the 300M Hurdles - Rollie Jacobs Photo
In the girl’s competition, Sherando used a balanced attack to secure a close win over the Jefferson girls. Sherando scored at least a top four finish in 14 of 16 events competed to earn their victory. Candice Banks was Sherando’s athlete of the day with victories in the 100M Hurdles (17.43) and 300M Hurdles (50.52). The Sherando girls also posted victories in the 4X400 Relay (4:22.20) and 4x800 Relay (10:13.02) on the way to the team title.
The Jefferson girls posted a single individual victory by freshman Abby Colbert in the 3200M Run (12.31.16) and added a victory in the 4X100 Relay (53.20) en route to their second place finish. Additional balanced scoring across multiple events including second place finishes by Alana Baylor (100M Dash, 13.23), Selena Renteria (200M Dash, 28.60), Kenya Price (High Jump, 5’0”), Catena Wilson (100M Hurdles, 18.80) and Elizabeth Starliper (Long Jump, 13’11.5”) and the 4X800 Relay (10:46.09) provided the points needed to hold off third place James River High School.
James River was led by sprinter Reanna Hamm’s convincing victories in the 100M Dash (12.64) and 200M Dash (26.90). Maggie Grumbine scored a victory in the 400M Dash (1:05.13) to lock down a James River sweep of the individual sprint events. Teammate Alexis Brown posted impressive wins in the throwing events by putting the shot 38’6.25” and hurling the discus 111’5”.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day was posted by Covington’s Leteisha Clarke. Clarke leapt to victory by a considerable margin in all three jump events winning the Long Jump (14’8”), High Jump (5’0”) and Triple Jump (33’0”) over her talented rivals.
Other victories in the girls’ events were posted by Parry McCluer’s Katy Patterson in the 800M Run (2:23.92), and Taylor Brown of the Liberty Eagles in the 1600M Run (5:36.12). Sherando secured the girls’ team title with 129 points followed closely by Jefferson with 115 points. James River (68 points), Liberty (47 points) and Covington (46 points) to round out the top five.
On a final note, Independence Senior was the only other West Virginia team competing in the meet. Independence was led by Zack Fleshman’s second place finish in the Shot Put (40’8”) and Jessica Welch’s eighth place finish in the 200M Dash (30.03).
Overall it was a great day to honor a significant contributor to youth track and field in Virginia. Here’s hoping the Mike Brown Invitational continues to grow and honor Coach Brown’s many contributions past, present and future.