Phillips prepares to blast past opponents

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2005

At over six feet tall, with his large mass of hair and glasses, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy's Zach Phillips bears a certain resemblance to Jon Heder, the title character in the 2004 hit independent film, "Napoleon Dynamite." In his farewell season on the NSA track and field team, Phillips hopes to drum up some explosions of his own.

"It's a fun sport to take up," said Phillips, who's sharing captain duties with Joey DiRenzo this year. "It's time to teach the younger kids to throw better.

"I want to hit 130 feet this year," said Phillips, whose personal best is 111. "I feel like I've gotten a lot better."

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Joey's sister Lauren is one of the younger ones; the eighth grader will be launching the shotput.

"You don't have to have muscles to throw this thing," she said, hefting the eight-pound cannonball (boys throw a 12-pounder). "If you're forming right, you'll be able to fling it as long as you want. It's about technique and balance."

The girls took fifth and the boys sixth in a meet on Thursday at Norfolk Academy, where they'll go back on Wednesday for their next meet.

Girls captain Jenna Robb finished eighth in the 100-run, one spot ahead of Eliza Peak and six up on Minka Foster. Robb and Peak were third and seventh in the 200, and Ashley Butler fourth in the 400. Molly Dvorak was ninth in the 800 and eighth in the 1,600.

Robb soared to third in the long jump, and Butler got 13th. Foster was seventh in the high jump. Meredith Gersbach tossed the shotput sixth, with Lauren seventh and Tiffany Buckley ninth. Gersbach and Lauren were seventh and 10th in the discus.

Butler is the only lady newcomer this season.

"High jump's harder than long jump, because it's hard to tell which foot to jump off of," she said. "It gave me something else to do. I want to reach 12 feet by the end of the season."

Phillips was third in the discus and fifth in the shotput. Johnny Floyd was seventh in the high jump, and Jacob Branchaud was eighth in triple jump. Jeff Whaley got 10th in the long jump and the Saints took fourth in the 3200-relay.

Cameron Boone was third in 110 hurdles. Joey and Branchaud were sixth and 13th in 3,200, and Jeff Iiames, Spencer Norman and Julius Buckley finished 10th, 24th and 26th in 800.

Jeff Gandy was fifth in 1,600, Buckley 18th and Steven Turner 26th.

"It's a good workout and there's lots of competition," Gandy said of distance running. "I'm not that fast. I'm just worried about catching the guy in front of me and passing him."