Tabb High School senior anchor Kiara Porter trailed Handley's Britani Myers in the 4x400-meter relay going into the final turn. Coming out of it, Porter had the Tigers fans on their feet.
"There was no stress on her face," Tabb coach George Coulter said.
Reeling in Tabb's rival gradually, the petite 5-foot, 110-pound Porter found the energy in the final event of the Group AA state meet to complete a comeback victory, earning her third state championship title of the day — including the 200- and 400-meter sprints — all of which came in state record-breaking times.
"It was hard, but I know these girls worked hard," said Porter, who will run for Virginia Commonwealth University next year. "… The least I could do was have heart, and my heart kicked in around the 50-meter mark."
Turning to junior relay teammate Leigh Ann Soistmann, Porter joked: "We're going to be on the announcements."
Finishing second a season ago, Tabb's 4x4 squad of Soistmann, freshman Taylor Omweg, junior Julia Aymonin and Porter certainly deserve at least that much after beating the Judges by less than half a second in 3:54.56, breaking Handley's record from last year (3:55.51).
"She's crazy," Soistmann said of Porter. "She kicked it today. She killed it."
In her first event of the day, Porter beat Myers by nearly three seconds in 54.77 to knock down the third-oldest girls' Group AA meet record in the 400-meter dash. Rebecca Russell set the previous mark of 55.24 in 1988 — well before Porter was born in 1993.
"I told myself at the end of junior year I was going to do whatever I can to win a state title," Porter said. "I got my own personal trainer. I joined a summer track team [Five Stars, based in Suffolk] that really helped."
In the final turn of the 400, the announcer told the crowd to watch lane 4, because Porter hadn't shown any signs of slowing down — a call that became a running theme for the diminutive speedster as she went on to win two more state titles.
"I heard that," said Porter, a Yorktown native. "It was a great feeling because last year I was on the last straightaway and I lost. Being stronger this year really helped out."
Her winning effort in the 200 in 24.18 seconds broke Keena Schuler's 1997 state meet record of 24.36, while also setting a long-standing school mark held by Tabb assistant coach Lisa Dillard, who graduated in 1986.
"It was great. You know what, if anybody had to break it, she deserved it," said Dillard, a former All-American track star at Clemson. "… She gives you 100 percent every time she steps out on the track, so I'm very proud of her. A better athlete couldn't have done it."
Behind Porter's trio of gold medals, Tabb finished fourth overall in the girls' competition with 33 points behind champion Hidden Valley (48), runner-up Handley (40) and Blacksburg (35).
Senior Kyle King achieved a rare feat of his own. The two-time cross country champion became the first Grafton runner to win state titles in cross country, indoor track (1,000 meters) and outdoor track. Plus, he did it in the same school year — the Triple Crown of high school running.
"I think a lot of this started his sophomore year," Grafton coach Matt Gutridge said of King, who won the 3200 on Friday (9:11.88). "Then, he had a knee problem. There was a growth on his leg that required surgery, and he missed his entire sophomore outdoor season. But he went into that summer and said, 'I want to be good. I want to get going again.' "
An upset over Jamestown that fall gave King his first state title in cross country.
Seeded first in the 1600 and second in the 800 Saturday, King finished his high school campaign with his sixth state running title — including an outdoor team championship and indoor 4x8 relay title. The grueling 2-mile run made for tough sledding the next day, King said, as he finished 13th in the 800 (1:58.84) while still making a trip to the podium in the 1600 (6th, 4:21.07).
"I realized yesterday that I had never won an outdoor state title, so this is pretty cool," said King, who will continue his career at the University of Virginia.
Led by its senior trio — Matthew Fultz (12 individual points scored), Cory Dunn (10) and Cody Simmons (8) — New Kent placed third to improve on a seventh-place showing last year at the state meet. Fultz earned a career-best silver medal in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles (39.09) behind Broad Run junior Jonathan Russell, the new state record holder (37.54). He also placed fifth in the 110-meter high hurdles (15.03), in which Simmons finished second (14.64).
Dunn, a sixth-place finisher in the 200 (22.33), earned a bronze medal in the long jump (21-10.25). He got some extra motivation after watching Simmons scratch out in the preliminary round.
"We came into this meet passionate, running after Louisa for a state championship," said Dunn, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder who sported pony-tailed dreadlocks ala Larry Fitzgerald. "When I found out Cody didn't make it to finals, I just got that feeling, you know, that feeling in your stomach where it tightens up. I just felt like I had to do it for my team."
The Trojans narrowly lost out on a Group AA runner-up trophy, tying E.C. Glass with 41 points. Louisa County won the boys' competition easily with 74.5 points, and Loudon County broke a three-way tie with New Kent and Glass with a fourth-place showing in the 4x400 relay – the final event of the day.
"I was hoping for a top-5 finish," NKHS coach Mont Linkenauger said. "If the stars aligned and there was some missteps by Louisa, we could've won, but I didn't expect that."
Grafton — who also got points from junior Joseph Wallace in the 400 (6th, 50.28) — tied Staunton River (the co-Region III champion) and Charlottesville for 12th overall out of 48 scoring boys' teams with 16 points. Jamestown tied for 15th with 12.
Other Bay Rivers District all-state (top-8) track and field athletes included: Bruton senior Sharmaine Baker (8th in the discus, 105-04), freshman Michaela Cody (8th in the 800, 2:19.10); Grafton freshman Nicole Goff (5th in the 800, 2:18.44), sophomore Julia Young (4th in the high jump), sophomore Caroline Beaudoin (4th in the long jump, 17-06.25); Jamestown senior Anthony Green (3rd in the 800, 1:56.84), Marci Demyon (5th in the 300 hurdles, 46.68), boys 4x400 relay (seniors Brad Turner, Chase Harper, Anthony Green and junior Chris Murdock, 3:26.97), boys 4x800 relay (Turner, senior Graham Maclaughlin, junior Daniel Moniak and Green, 8:01.50), girls 4x400 relay (Juniors Emily Derse and Emily Mellman, senior Natalie Sukramani and Demyon, 4:07.90) and girls 4x800 relay (Demyon, junior Tiffany Antognozzi, and seniors Maggie Underwood and Natalie Sukramani, 9:31.90); Lafayette junior Desmond Smallwood (6th in the 100, 11.37; 5th in the 200, 22.31), boys 4x400 relay (Juniors Aaron Hooks, Joshua Carino, Thomas Smith and sophomore Kwame Durant, 3:27.58), girls 4x400 relay (Junior Krista Ferrell, freshman Deborah Allison, junior Heidi Peterson and senior Shelby Tillis, 4:04.49); New Kent senior Ryan Coles (6th in the discus, 143-0), boys 4x400 relay (senior Zach Jacobs, Dunn, senior Ethan Fowlkes and Simmons, 43.03); Smithfield sophomore Marquis Childress (6th in the triple jump, 44-08.75; 7th in the high jump, J6-02.00); Tabb sophomore David Camarillo (7th in the 400, 50.32), girls 4x100 relay (Sophomore Brittni King, Aymonin, Omweg and freshman Micah Hanks, 50.15); York junior Jack Little (4th in the 800, 1:56.84);.