LYNCHBURG — The last time Handley's Tyson Long competed in the high jump at Liberty University's Osborne Stadium prior to Saturday, he went home with a pretty big smile on his face — he set a PR at the 2017 4A West Region meet.
On Saturday, he also went home grinning ear to ear. Unlike last time, he went home to Winchester with a souvenir from his high-jump experience.
The senior won the first state title of his career with a mark of 6 feet, 4 inches at the Class 4 state meet on Saturday, part of a memorable day for the Judges that saw several of his teammates go home with medals as well.
That group included junior Quinton Newman — who won the first state title of his career by taking the discus with a top mark of 158-3 — and sophomore Malachi Imoh, who had second-place finishes in the 100 meters and 200 and also ran the leadoff leg on the 4x100 team that broke the school record it set last week in taking second.
That trio led Handley to fourth place with 49 points. Loudoun Valley won its third straight state title with 87 points behind the strength of the nation's premier distance crew, as the Vikings grabbed the top seven places in the 3,200 (38 points), five of the top seven places in the 1,600 (24 points) and two of the top three spots in the 800 (14 points). Blacksburg was second with 54. Sherando tied for seventh with 23 points and James Wood was 13th with 17.5 points. Millbrook did not score.
Long was one of three people who had soared to a height of 6-6 heading into the state meet, with Loudoun County's Derek McCandless and Blacksburg's Terry Tiquest the others.
Long won a head-to-head matchup with McCandless at the Region 4C meet when he jumped 6-6 for the first time (McCandless recorded a 6-2), so he felt good about his chances going into Saturday. Part of it was last week's 6-6, and part of it was because his season-best moment as a sophomore in 2017 came when he took ninth with a 5-10 at the region meet.
"I knew the surface [at Liberty] was kind of like [Handley's]," Long said. "Since I had that PR here, I just felt like if there was good weather, I could do well on this track and I'd have a chance."
McCandless could only clear 6-2, and he finished third. That meant the battle for the title would come down to Long and Tiquest. Long had the advantage though because when he cleared 6-4, he didn't have any misses, unlike Tiquest.
They each had three chances at 6-6, but it wasn't a back-and-forth battle. Tiquest had to check out to compete in the finals of the 100, leaving Long by himself. He took all three of his attempts consecutively at 6-6 but couldn't clear the bar on any of them.
Tiquest wound up edging Imoh by 0.03 (11.08 to 11.11) to win the 100, but he couldn't lift himself to edge Long after he came back. He failed on all three of his attempts, prompting Long to quietly pump his fist while his supporters outside of the gate celebrated.
Long went from 5-10 as a sophomore to 6-0 and tying for seventh to earn all-state honors as a junior. There were probably a lot of high jumpers around the state that were glad to see last year's champion Trey Causey head off to Virginia, but another Judge simply wouldn't let the high jump crown leave Winchester.
"It's exciting," Long said. "This is something that I wanted since the beginning of the season when I jumped 6-4. I knew I had the chance to do something special."
Handley head coach Mike McKiernan, who works with the team's high jumpers, said it was great to see.
"He's come so far as a high jumper," McKiernan said. "I'm so proud of him."
Later in the afternoon, Newman added to Handley's state championship haul. Newman said he took the lead with his first throw in the discus, and he never gave it up. He led with a 155-7 after the preliminaries, then improved on his mark with a 158-3 in the finals.
Newman entered the postseason as the No. 3 discus thrower in the state — and No. 3 discus thrower in Winchester-Frederick County — behind James Wood senior Chance Grove and Sherando senior Isaiah Allen. But at the end of the Class 4 Northwestern District, Region 4C and Class 4 state meets, the one going home with the gold medal was Newman. He had the best throw of any Class 4 discus thrower this year with his school-record toss of 167-5 at the Region 4C meet.
At last year's state meet, Newman took seventh while Grove took third and Allen took fourth. The shot put state champion Allen (second with a 155-3) and Grove (fourth with a 150-2) repeated as all-state performers.
"It's awesome [to win]," Newman said. "Honestly, I just want to jump and scream and everything, but I'm trying to keep my cool."
Allen has jokingly complained in the past that Newman doesn't show enough emotion. McKiernan and all the other people associated with Handley got Newman to smile pretty big though when they had him pose for pictures with the discus performance marker that had "158-3" on it.
"I'm so excited for Quinton," said McKiernan of the person whose top mark was 147-9 last year. "He's really worked on the discus and become a much better discus thrower."
Imoh capped a spectacular season on Saturday. Running into a headwind, the sophomore who was tied for the eighth-best time coming into the meet came up just short of beating Tiquest in the 100. Imoh came in as the fourth seed in the 200, qualified for the finals with the fourth-best time in Saturday morning's preliminaries (21.97) and finished only behind Courtland's Matthew Spicer (21.61) in the finals with a time of 22.07.
Imoh was most pleased with the 4x100. Though the team of Imoh, sophomore Jayden Vardaro, freshman Stephen Daley and junior Miles Ashe would have loved a state championship, the Judges still shattered the school record for the second time in a week. Handley recorded a time of 42.63 to break the previous mark set in 2000 at the Region 4C meet, and on Saturday the Judges recorded a 42.26, just 0.06 behind Blacksburg.
"We ran a good time and PR'd," Imoh said. "We have to be happy with that."
McKiernan said he was extremely proud of the team as a whole. The Judges also received two all-state performances in the pole vault from senior Jack Armel (fifth, 13-0) and freshman William McKay (eighth, 12-6).
"We had said at the beginning of the year that our goal this year was to get better," McKiernan said. "I feel like our team's a lot better now than it was at the beginning of April. Between the boys and the girls, the kids met or exceeded their seeds just about everywhere."
In addition to Allen, Sherando also received an all-state performance from junior Darius Lane. Lane took fourth in the 300 hurdles with a personal record of 40.64. Lane did this despite not running in the fastest heat. He won the second of three heats.
In addition to Grove, James Wood received all-state performances from junior William Crowder (fourth in the 100 in 11.37 after running the second-fastest time of the day and a PR of 10.88 in Friday's preliminaries), junior Lavaughan Freeman (tied for seventh in the high jump, 6-0) and Drake Tews, who tied for seventh in the high jump (6-0) and impressively took third in the long jump (21-3.75) after coming in tied as the 30th seed among the 37 state meet entrants. Tews surpassed his PR by almost three inches.
Tews' top jump came in the preliminaries, and he was second heading into finals. He said fatigue got to him on the warm and sunny day at that point (the boys' long jump didn't finish until close to the start of meet-concluding 4x400) and he wasn't able to improve his positioning.
"I thought there was a zero percent chance [of making all-state in the long jump]," Tews said."I was thinking about scratching it to focus on the high jump. I was in first until the last flight even came up, so I was very surprised. I was just trying to get all-state in the high jump, so I'm happy with this."
Grove entered the year as Class 4's top returning discus thrower and entered the postseason with the top mark. He would have liked to have gone out on top, but at his last home meet in May he did improve on the 52-year-old school record he broke last year with a top mark of 163-8.
"I didn't really come out how I wanted to perform today I guess, but I can't say I didn't work for it," Grove said. "I can't say I didn't love competing with these guys. Everybody here works hard. The love's there from all of them. Isaiah and Q are like teammates to me, and I'm going to miss competing with them. I'm definitely content and happy with what I've done in my career."
James Wood coach Mike Onda had a lot of reasons to be pleased this weekend.
"Drake had some great performances in some conditions, so I'm really happy for him getting all-state in two events," Onda said. "Will did really well in the 100, and he helped the 4x100 break the school record again [Tews, Freeman and Jackson Clyburn helped James Wood take 10th in 43.68]. I was telling them it took the entire history of the school for a 4x1 team to break 44 seconds, and they did that three times this season. Real happy with that.
"Chance leaving is going to leave a big hole in our throws program. I know he would have liked to have done better today, but I'm really proud of what he's done in his career."
For complete results, go to milestat.com.