Virginia Peninsula Community Sports Notebook - The Best of 2018

Lady Gators Change League Affiliation; Win Championship
The Hampton Roads Lady Gators started the year by finding a new home, as the women’s football team realigned itself by joining the United States Women’s Football League.
At the time, team owner Katisha Simpkins said, "The USWFL is a smaller league with great competition geared towards smaller teams. The owners are great people and I appreciate that they are allowing us to show our talents in their league."
The move immediately proved to be successful. After an inaugural campaign which ended with a 2-6 record in the Women’s Football Association, the Gators caught fire in mid-season and reversed its first season record with a 6-2 mark and a playoff berth.
In their playoff opener, the Gators defeated the Fayetteville Fierce. And in the Division 3 (Ironwoman) Championship. The Gators overcame an early deficit and beat the Tri-Cities Thunder 20-14. The Thunder had scored early in the second half to take a 14-8 lead, but Keonna Rheubottom knotted the score with her second rushing touchdown with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
However, Kenya Wilkerson (four of eight, 90 yards, six carries, 70 yards. TD) was injured on the Gators’ next possession, forcing offensive coordinator Michael Smith to insert Meghan Bradford into the offense at quarterback. To complete the adjustment, the Gators changed to a spread offense and the move paid off as Bradford connected with Ja’Quaria Barnes for the 80-yard game-winning score.
Chantry, Samaha Help Set Track Relay WR
In March, Williamsburg’s Steve Chantry, who had recovered from a calcified Achilles tendon and perforated colon, won four gold medals and ran a leg of a world record relay at the Masters Indoor Championships.
After a four-year period of nagging injuries, Chantry, 62, said, “I had pretty much decided to forego any more track training and racing, and just concentrate on easy distance and have fun in local road races.”
However, his health returned to form sooner than expected, and within six months, he had built his distance base to the point of running 60 miles per week, which made the possibility of high-level track competition a reality again.
At Indoor Nationals, Chantry won the 3000 meters on Friday, lapping all of the runners on the 200-meter oval, except for the runner-up, who finished 12 seconds behind. He also won the 1500 in 4:52.
Later in the day, Chantry, along with three other runners including Williamsburg’s Rick Samaha, combined to run a world record time for the men’s 60-plus 4-by-800 meter relay. Chantry’s anchor leg of 2:25.1 helped the quartet to a 9:50.90 time, which broke the existing world record (9:55.96), set by the Shore Athletic Club of New York, by just over five seconds. Samaha’s split of 2:25.3 was second-fastest among the winning foursome.
Road Racing Returns to Jamestown Island

With the first-ever Democracy Dash 10K taking place in April, a tradition that started in 1691 was renewed – road racing on Jamestown Island.

The Democracy Dash will serve as the final leg of the newly installed Historic Triangle Triple Crown, joining the Yorktown 10K and Williamsburg’s Duke of Gloucester (DOG) Street Challenge 5K run, which are both held two weeks apart in April.

In the late 17th century, then-Virginia Governor Francis Nicholson held foot races, along with other sporting competitions, on Jamestown Island. Nicholson’s competitions marked the first recorded organized and official sporting events in the English New World. With a 327-year legacy to protect, it is noteworthy that there will now be races in all three cities of the Historic Triangle.

Coast Guard Blue Dolphins Score at States
At Virginia Swimming Inc.'s (VSI) Senior Championships, CGBD took first place overall in the Medium Team Category, with the Women's team capturing first and the Men's team third overall. Standout swimmers were Danika Katzer with two Virginia Swimming titles in 100 and 200-meter breaststrokes, Kade Younger in the 100 backstroke, and Chris Verastek earning a title in the 100 breaststroke. Katzer, Morgan Miller, Jacqueline Tinneny, Alex Slayton, and Chelsea Marstellar comprised five relays that broke eight CGBD team records.
At the VSI's 2018 Age Group Championships, CGBD again captured first place overall in the Medium Team Category. Clayton Whetstine came away with three Virginia Swimming titles in 200 and 400 individual medley (IM) and 200-meter backstroke. Laura Gaffney won the 200 backstroke. Brooke-Lynn Clark placed first, winning the 400 IM, while Ian Rodgers won the 11-12-year-old 200 butterfly, breaking another CGBD team record with the win.
CGBD had fantastic representation at the Virginia Swimming Awards Event. Carter Whetstine (11-year-olds), Kyleigh Tankard (13-year-olds) and Katzer (17-18-year-olds) were all recognized as VSI Swimmers of the Year. This accomplishment is the highest honor for individual swimmers presented by VSI. 

PSC Winners
Dr. William R. Harvey and Paul S. Trible, Jr., the presidents of Hampton and Christopher Newport Universities, shared the Herbert Morewitz Sports Person of the Year award at the 69th Annual Peninsula Sports Club Awards, held in July.
Long-time Daily Press sports writer Marty O’Brien received the Bob Moskowitz Media Award, while Gene Thompson was honored with the Sports Person Emeritus Award. Belinda Langston, athletic specialist with over 40 years of experience in Newport News Public Schools, won the Charles Karmosky Award.
Menchville and Jamestown high schools captured the Julian Rice and Red Simpson awards, given annually to the most successful athletic programs in the Peninsula and Bay Rivers conferences.
Jamestown’s All-American volleyball player, Emma Schriner, won the Betsy Thomas Outstanding High School Female Athlete, and Patrick McCormick, four-time state champion wrestler from Poquoson, won the Julie Conn Outstanding Male Athlete award.
The Thad Madden award was presented to seven recipients – Quanisha Bruce, Lisa Dillard-Hanks, Allen Iverson, Yvette Lewis, Francena McCorory, Bev Vaughan, Jr., and Keith Witherspoon.
Kermit Buggs, Troy Fullwood and Bill Nettles earned special achievement awards. In 2017, Nettles announced his 1,000th football game, at Todd Stadium.
The PSC also awarded ten $1,000 scholarships to Peninsula student-athletes.


Loudoun Valley CC Changes Culture and National Titles Follow (as seen on MileStat.com)

As Loudoun Valley ran away with both state Class 4 titles at the VHSL cross-country championships four weeks ago, it becomes harder to the average distance running follower to remember just how far the program has come in such a short time.
Last summer, at the Virginia Track Coaches Association meeting, held inside the Freeman Center at Christopher Newport University, co-coaches Marc and Joan Hunter presented to about 40 coaches from around the state, explaining how they turned around a stagnant program, and in four short years, turned it into a prep distance juggernaut, replete with two national championships, earned by the boys at last year's Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, OR. Not only did the Viking boys win last fall, they scored a mere 89 points in the process, and topped national powerhouse Manlius (NY) by 70 points. Two weeks ago, they repeated the feat.
Entitled "From Ultimate Frisbee to National Champs: How A Small Rural School Overcame a Broken Culture," the presentation provided a unique look into the Loudoun Valley program, but not a rare one. Like many successful coaches, the Hunters are accessible, but not like all coaches, they are happy to share how their program works. In fact, one can find Loudoun Valley distance workouts online as the Hunters are one of 15 coaching entities who contribute to the highschoolrunningcoach.com website.
While the Hunters were well known in Northern Virginia coaching circles five years ago, it had nothing to do with their work at Loudoun Valley. In fact, they re-entered the arena in 2012 after a decade-plus absence (to raise their nine children), but had established themselves with stops at Madison and South Lakes where they helped to jumpstart the prep career of a young ninth-grader named Alan Webb.
And while having the likes of a Webb, or later, their own son Drew, on their coaching resume, helped to draw young runners to the Viking program, the challenge was more about changing the culture surrounding the Valley team, which had enjoyed little success prior to 2012. In fact, the girls' fourth-place state finish in 2001 was the only notable event in a 35-year period, beginning in 1970.
As the Hunters describe it, Drew had success in 2012-13, at which point, the couple joined forces as assistant coaches. Joan wrote the workouts, while Marc helped to "pick up the pieces." A medical problem forced the head coach to step away early in the 2013 cross-country season, and suddenly, the couple found themselves in charge of the program.
Thrust to the head position, the Hunters drew on their experiences and decided that an evaluation of the team culture was needed. What they discovered was a congenial environment among the team members, but one that was lacking in setting standards, or "raising the bar." The competitive focus was lacking. Practices were missed without explanation or worry, and summer training was not an expectation. Injuries were many, and as the Hunters state, that "is" a culture problem. From Day 1 at the helm, the Hunters focused on changing the scenery and building an accountable team.
It didn't take long to drive their point home. In 2013, the boys won the conference championship, while the girls' team qualified for state.
The Vikings improved exponentially in 2014, with the emergence of Drew as a nationally recognized runner. He and teammate Ciara Donohue qualified for Foot Locker Nationals, and a year later, Drew won the individual National championship. Two years later, individual success had transformed into a team national title.
At Great Meadow, Loudoun Valley not only swept the Class 4 races, but tacked on a few milestones along the way. For the girls, winning their first state championship also broke the seven-year run enjoyed by Blacksburg, and the 44-48 margin of victory showed that Blacksburg was not in a hurry to see their streak end.
Ricky Fetterolf paced the girls with a winning time of 18:23, followed closely by Blacksburg's Kaitlynn Wolfe (18:36) and then Loudoun Valley teammate Elise Abbe (18:40). Although Ailene Edwards and Audrey Link of Blacksburg took sixth and seventh, the Vikings ruled the day as Ally Talley (11th), Caroline Bolen (16th), Abby Keane (25th) and Leah Snyder (26th) paced the team to victory. With the individual runners etched out, the Vikings scored a 1-3-9-13-18 team finish.
The boys, as expected, rolled. Sam Affolder (15:30) won by 27 seconds over teammate Jacob Hunter, while Kellen Hasle, Connor Wells and Carlos Shultz placed in the top-seven as the Vikings led with a team-low 16 points.
For the Hunters, it may have been just another day at the office. But thanks to a change of culture in Purcellville, it only took a few years to make the right turn.
Or, as Joan Hunter put it metaphorically at CNU in July, "We knew the tide was changing when one of the kids came up after a run and said. You know? Today, I took the right turn when we got to the W&OD (Washington & Old Dominion) trail. For years, I always took the left (shortcut)."


Stone Bridge Advances to Virginia Class 5 Football Semis

For three months, Broad Run had been the dominant football team of Loudoun County. With an 11-1 record, even the only blemish on their record was a 2-0 forfeit loss to Potomac Falls – a game they won 31-0 before realizing that they had mistakenly played an ineligible athlete. They reported the error on their own cognizance, but still were forced to give up the win.

Two weeks ago, their status as favorites appeared sealed as the Spartans beat Stone Bridge 26-20 in the annual “Battle of the Burn.” Even as the rematch against the Bulldogs loomed yesterday at the Region 5C championship, the Spartans had an undefeated record in games played, a previous win against their opponent, and home field advantage, as they took the field on Friday afternoon.

That’s why yesterday 35-6 loss to the Bulldogs was most surprising. The Spartans missed the chance to capitalize on a couple of early opportunities, which included a fumble recovery in Spartan territory, and later a first play, 54-yard run by Tim Baldwin that brought the ball from their 20 to the Spartan 26.

The fumble recovery could have given Broad Run immediate momentum. On the game’s second play, the Bulldogs Jared Cole was headed up the middle with a handoff when he was drilled and coughed up the ball. The Spartans recovered at the SB 42, but couldn’t convert a first down, and the drive stalled when Baldwin was stuffed on his third straight run, on fourth and three.

The stop on Baldwin turned the momentum to the visitors and, after a holding penalty forced the Bulldogs to start with first-and-23, Mason Tatum immediately found sophomore wideout Tai Felton for a 19-yard completion. A seven-yarder to Felton gave Stone Bridge a first down, and three plays later, Tatum caught Felton for a third time, this one on a fly route, and the speedy receiver dashed into the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown.

Felton finished the day with seven catches for 116 yards. Looking ahead to next week’s state semifinal matchup against North Stafford (11-2), who defeated Massaponax 46-21, Felton said, “I believe that if we are able to execute and keep the same energy like we did yesterday, we will be able to compete and advance to the state championship.”

On the next play, Baldwin fumbled, and it was Cole who recovered the fumble at the Spartan 21, setting up Nick Mell’s one-yard surge through the middle for a touchdown, giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 cushion. They wouldn’t need to score again.

Mell credited the team’s preparation for their solid performance. “Practice went great this week and we knew it’s win or go home, so we came ready to play Broad Run,” said the senior back, adding, “When we were up two touchdowns and kept stopping their offense’s momentum I knew we would win if we just kept scoring.”

A Taye Davis interception on Broad Run’s next possession gave the Dogs a chance to put away their opponent for good, but the SB drive netted only 16 yards and the Bulldogs pooch punted on fourth-and-13.

Baldwin (24 carries, 92 yards) responded with his 54-yard dash, but was later stuffed on fourth-and-one at the Broad Run 17, as the defense thwarted a potential score.

Broad Run did get on the scoreboard on their next possession as Mitch Griffis (10-18, 129 yds, TD, 2 INT) connected with Jake Busser 31 yards down the left sideline and Busser juked around a defender at the 2 and placed the ball down two yards inside of the goal line plane for the Spartans’ first, and only touchdown.

After a missed Stone Bridge field goal, the Spartans had one last opportunity to score just before halftime, driving 71 yards on seven plays. A pair of passes from Griffis to Luke Lindenfeldar were the key plays, especially the second, from the Bulldog 45, which featured Lindenfeldar catching a short pass, stiff-arming a defender and rambling for 36 yards before being driven out of bounds.

However, with time running out and second-and–goal from the 9, Griffis scrambled to find a receiver, but opted to make a run for the goal-line, falling just short as he was stopped by a pair of Stone Bridge linebackers at the 3. With no timeouts remaining, the Spartans could only watch as the clock ran out, completing a play the Bulldog coach Mickey Thompson called the game’s most important.
In the second half, the dominant ground game of Stone Bridge took over as Cole (nine carries, 125 yards) ran for a pair of touchdowns, from 31 and 45 yards, and Mell’s short TD in the final quarter delivered the exclamatory blow.
For Thompson, who recently led the program to its 200th program win (in just 16 years), the state semifinals are not a new experience as the Bulldogs have won 12 region titles. However, their luck in the final four is not stellar – Thompson has won a single state title, while dropping seven championships, including a pair to Highland Springs, in 2015 and 2016. The Retrievers, who blasted Henrico 40-6 yesterday, have won the last three Class 5 championships, and will be the favorites heading into the final four.

Stone Bridge (12-1) 7, 7, 14, 7 – 35
Broad Run (11-2)     0, 6, 0, 0 – 6

First quarter

SB – Tai Felton 45 pass from Mason Tatum (Hayden Baron kick)

Second quarter

SB – Nick Mell 1 run (Baron kick)
BR – Jake Busser 31 pass from Mitch Griffis (kick failed)

Third quarter

SB – Jared Cole 31 run (Baron kick)
SB – Cole 45 run (Baron kick)

Fourth quarter

SB – Mell 4 run (Baron kick)