- Phoebus finished second behind Western Branch
- 1,600-meter relay team clinches second
- Ocean Lakes standout wins three jumps again
Newport News ─ Phoebus track and field coach Brian Rountree wanted his girl's track team to use the Eastern Region track and field finals, held Friday and Saturday at Todd Stadium, to show its Peninsula District championship was no fluke.
The Phantoms set a goal of finishing in the top three, but eclipsed that by piling up 66 points to take second place overall. Western Branch of Chesapeake won the girls title with 118 points, and Princess Anne finished third with 55.
On the boy's side, Ocean Lakes of Virginia Beach wont the title with 79 points, Western Branch finished second with 70, and First Colonial of Virginia Beach was third with 53.
"They wanted one of those trophies," said Rountree. "I'm so proud of these girls, because they've worked so hard this year to get to this point, and they came in and took what they wanted. They ran hard today."
After checking the team standings with just one event remaining, Rountree hurried to the infield to talk to his 4x400-meter relay team.
"I told them to get it done," said Rountree. "That the trophy was in reach, but they had to want it."
The girls responded, and senior Brittany Alston brought it home by walking down a big deficit on the back straightaway and then holding off a pass attempt by Western Branch's Javette Lee down the homestretch.
Christal Peterson aided the cause with a first place finish in the 200-meter dash and a second-place in the 100-meter dash.
The Phantoms received a big boost when Vamonie Boddie and Jasmine Vaughan finished second and third, respectively, in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
Boddie reached a personal goal with a time of 44.95 seconds. Vaughan had already added four points with a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles and later added six more by anchoring the third-place 4x100-meter team.
"Picking up those points was a very big deal," said Boddie, who hopes to reach 43 seconds at the state meet. "This is the toughest region in the state, so finishing like this here makes us feel good about our chances at the state finals."
As the field event finals finished up Saturday morning, the show belonged squarely to Ocean Lakes' Justin Hunter. For the second consecutive year, Hunter won the trifecta of jumps, taking home first place finishes in the high jump (7 feet), long jump (24 feet, 8 inches), and triple jump (49 feet, 9 inches).
After Western Branch's Kendrick Smith took the lead on his final jump with a leap of 47 feet, 1.5 inches, Hunter took his mark, gestured for some crowd support, then won the event for the third consecutive year even though he took off with the wrong foot planted nearly 18 inches short of the foul line.
If measured from where his take-off foot was planted, Hunter would have put up an effort of 51 feet and 7 inches.
"When I got close to the board, I realized my steps were off, but it was my last attempt and I had to get it, so I just went for it," said Hunter, who set a personal best with the jump. "50 inches was my goal here, so I'm a little disappointed that I didn't reach it, but it's nice to see that it's within my reach and I have room for improvement."
Other Peninsula District athletes who won individual events were Menchville's Melissa Wilson in girl's pole vault (10 feet, 9 inches), Hampton's Renay Ransaw in girl's long jump (18 feet, 0.5 inches), and Woodside's Brandon Burton in the 800-meter run (1:52.74).
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