Suffolk scores titles and qualifiers

Published 10:34 pm Saturday, February 22, 2014

Suffolk produced three regional champions and several other state qualifiers at the Group 4A South Region indoor track and field championships on Thursday in Hampton.

King’s Fork High School’s Gabrielle Snipes won the long jump with a 17-foot 11-inch leap, and she was also part of the 4×200-meter relay team that placed first with a time of 1:46.40.

King's Fork High School's Courtney Ricks makes it to states with this run in the 300-meter dash at the regional championships on Thursday.

King’s Fork High School’s Courtney Ricks makes it to states with this run in the 300-meter dash at the regional championships on Thursday.

Nansemond River High School’s Zakiya Rashid took the shot put regional title with a 44-foot 0.5-inch throw.

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Marvin Ricks, coach for King’s Fork, was pleased with his team’s performance, despite the interruption in training caused by recent winter weather.

“I think they did pretty good,” he said. “The overall goal was just to advance to the state level, and I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

He had two athletes qualify for states on the day. The top six finishers in each event make the cut, and his daughter, Courtney Ricks, finished sixth in the 300-meter dash, while Andrew Gould took fifth in the 500-meter dash.

The girls’ 4×200, also including Courtney Ricks, Roneka Spady and Danielle Hill, had already qualified to go on, as had Snipes in the long jump and the 55-meter dash.

The other state qualifiers prior to Thursday were Hannah Hinson in the shot put and the girls’ 4×400-meter relay team, which features the same runners as the 4×200.

Nansemond River coach Justin Byron approached regionals as a tune-up for states.

“I was happy from looking at the competition and looking at what we put out there,” he said. “I was happy, not ecstatic.”

The Nansemond River girls’ team came the closest of any Suffolk squad to a win, putting up 52.50 points for third place out of 22 teams to score. NR also produced the highest boys’ team score from Suffolk, scoring 26 points to come in ninth out of 24 scoring teams.

One thing Byron was thrilled by was the way Rashid won the shot put title.

“That was her best throw ever,” he said, including outdoor marks. “That was a bomb.”

Rashid also used regionals to qualify for states in the triple jump.

Other Nansemond River state qualifiers to come out of Thursday’s event included Kara Dixon, Terrence Lambert and Benjamin Littlejohn in the 1,000-meter run; Kara Lyles in the 55-meter hurdles; and the boys’ 4×200-meter relay team, including Jonas Jones, Lambert, Kadeem Middleton and Xavier Williams.

Among the state qualifiers prior to regionals were Middleton in the 300- and 500-meter dashes, Rashid in the shot put and 55-meter hurdles and Mia McClain in the 55 hurdles, 55-meter dash and the 300.

The girls’ 4×200 and 4×400 were already set for states, along with all three boys’ relays.

Lyles and Brandee Johnson both had the most pre-existing state qualifications. Lyles was set in the 55 dash, the 300, the 500, the high jump and the long jump. Johnson was set in all of those, plus the 55 hurdles and the triple jump.

All athletes will be limited to three running events at states, with no limit on field events.

Not qualifying, but still turning in strong performances for Nansemond River were Candice James, placing seventh in the 500 and Casey Williams, placing ninth in the 3,200-meter run.

Lakeland High School coach Gregory Rountree evaluated his team’s showing.

“We could have done a little bit more, but I was satisfied with the performance,” he said.

The boys’ 4×200 meter relay team, featuring Ja’Len Baker, Gregory Rountree Jr., Jordan Stokley and Rimar Williams, qualified for states, as did the girls’ 4×200. That team includes Teahney Walker, Kiera Rountree, Alexus Copeland and Khadijah Clouden.

Already qualified were Rountree and Clouden in the triple jump and the 4×800-meter relay team of Alexis and Jamee Albright, Alexus Copeland and Kristen Vick.

The Virginia High School League Group 4A state championships will be held at Liberty University on Feb. 28 and March 1.